LH.20.010 – Agricultural collectives 1980-2020: Comparative learning histories

Route: Living history

Cluster question: 006 How can we protect and preserve the quality of the substrate for humans and the environment while leaving room for social and economic development?

The main goal of this project is to extract actionable knowledge from the past of agricultural collectives/associations like Noardlike Fryske Walden, Groningen West, Agrarische Natuur Drenthe and Rivierenland (see: https://www.boerennatuur.nl/collectieven/) by doing a historical research into their development from the start (early 1980s) to the present. The key objective of this project is to learn general lessons from how these collectives, in relation with their stakeholders, have developed ‘nature inclusive agriculture’ in response to rules and legislation imposed by external political systems. The focus is on the complicated balancing act between environmental and policy concerns on the one hand and economic interests on the other. The collectives’ development will be reconstructed by employing the method of learning histories. This interdisciplinary method has been developed at M.I.T. and elaborated since 2004 at the University of Groningen. Based on the theory of learning organizations, the project will focus on the development of nature inclusive and economically robust agriculture as a learning process between the collectives and the main institutions they have to deal with. Learning histories enable organizations to learn by discovering their ‘blind spots’: what did the collectives ‘see’ and what did they ‘miss’ in their communication with other partners and institutions in the field? The research question is therefore: what have been the collectives’ blind spots in the development of nature inclusive and economically robust agriculture in the past four decades? The deliverables will focus on ‘lessons learned’ from the past to prepare organizations similar to these collectives for the future. In line with this, there will be a heavy focus on the dissemination of the results of this project to relevant third parties.


agricultural business models, Circularity, learning history, living past, sustainability

Other organisations

extraordinary chair group 'Regional Vitality & Dynamics', Faculty of Arts, Noardlike Fryske Walden, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (RUG)


Organisation University of Groningen (RUG), Faculty of Arts, Department of History
Name Dr. R.G.P. (Rik) Peters
E-mail r.g.p.peters@rug.nl
Website https://www.rug.nl/staff/r.g.p.peters/