UNMAKING: a research programme on the disruption of capitalism in societal transformation to sustainability


Research Team

Giuseppe Feola – programme leader

Giuseppe Feola is Associate Professor of Social Change for Sustainability at Utrecht University. Giuseppe conducts research on social-ecological change in modern societies, with a primary empirical focus on agri-food systems. He aims to develop an empirically based theory of societal transformation to sustainability, to contribute to the societal debate on this challenge, and to build a bridge between theory and political action. Giuseppe is the recipient of a European Research Council Starting Grant and of a Netherlands Research Organisation VIDI Grant that fund UNMAKING.
E-Mail: g.feola@uu.nl | Personal websiteProfile

Laura van Oers

Laura van Oers is a PhD candidate on the NWO-funded VIDI project within the UNMAKING project. She graduated in 2017 from the MSc in Innovation Sciences at Utrecht University and wrote her thesis on the creation of legitimacy in Dutch Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) initiatives. In the PhD project, Laura studies CSA and permaculture as cases of radical grassroots innovation in the context of food and agriculture in the Netherlands. Through empirical studies she sets out to understand how grassroots innovations, as alternative spaces, may contribute to sustainability. Laura worked as a junior researcher and lecturer at the Copernicus institute of Sustainable development from 2017 until 2019. Other research topics she explored include smart urbanism, knowledge politics, visions and expectations.

Learn more about Laura’s PhD research project here.

Contact: l.m.vanoers@uu.nl | Profile

Jacob Smessaert

Jacob Smessaert is a PhD-candidate on the NWO-funded VIDI project on UNMAKING. He holds a double degree in agronomic sciences (University of Liège, Belgium) and political ecology (AgroParisTech, France). He graduated with a thesis on the commodification of nature and the ways in which politicizing nature might open new perspectives for alternative collective futures. Within the UNMAKING project, Jacob will work on grassroots innovations as agents of societal transformation towards sustainability, with an empirical focus on Spain and the Netherlands.

Learn more about Jacob’s PhD research project here.

Contact: j.d.a.smessaert@uu.nl | Profile

Guilherme Raj

Guilherme Raj is a PhD candidate focused on UNMAKING case studies in Italy. He graduated in 2018 from the MSc in Communication, Health and Life Sciences, specialization Innovations in Sustainable Food Systems at Wageningen University. His thesis investigated the power relations and dynamics that influence the development of alternative food networks in Kyoto, Japan.

Learn more about Guilherme’s PhD research project here.

Contact : g.desapavariniraj@uu.nl | Profile

Leonie Guerrero

Leonie Guerrero is a PhD Candidate within the UNMAKING programme. She graduated in 2018 from the MSc in Social-Ecological Resilience and Sustainable Development at Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University. Her thesis focused on food initiatives using traditional knowledge as a source of innovation for more sustainable food systems.

Learn more about Leonie’s PhD research project here.

Contact:  l.guerrerolara@uu.nl | Profile

Julia Spanier

Julia Spanier is a PhD candidate on the ERC project, investigating spaces of UNMAKING in Germany. She holds a MSc in Nature, Society and Environmental Governance from the University of Oxford. In her thesis, she analysed the assembling of postcapitalist, more-than-human, rural-urban futures in the French countryside. Having worked as a Mercator Fellow on food sovereignty with FIAN International, FIAN Ecuador and Oxfam Solidariteit-Solidarité before joining the UNMAKING team, she seeks to combine academia and activism in a critical human geography perspective.

Learn more about Julia’s PhD research project here.

Contact: j.r.spanier@uu.nl | Profile


Advisory Board

The research projects in this program are supported by an international Advisory Board that is composed by the following academics:

  • Prof. Peter Driessen, Environmental Governance, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University.
  • Prof. Ellen Moors, Innovation Studies,  Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University.
  • Prof. Hens Runhaar,  Environmental Governance, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University.
  • Prof. Jenny Pickerill, Department of Geography, University of Sheffield.
  • Prof. Marta Guadalupe Rivera Ferre, Agroecology and Food Systems, University of Vic.
  • Prof. Giorgos Kallis, Institute of Environmental Science & Technology, Autonomous University of Barcelona.
  • Dr. Marion Ernwein, Department of Geography, The Open University.

Ethics advisor for the ERC project

  • Dr. Anke van Gorp, Institute for Applied Safety and Security Studies and Centre for Social Innovation, University of Applied Sciences Utrecht.