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Every year ASI makes budget available for up and coming interdisciplinary research projects. In a competition for so-called seed money proposals research projects are evaluated that can further strengthen the VU profile theme of “Science for Sustainability”.

The winning proposals are selected based on the following criteria: inclusion of multiple faculties, interdisciplinarity, innovativeness, societal relevance, sustainability impact, and last but not least their potential contribution to the kickstarting of the ASI Thematic Clusters.

This year ASI aimed to fund projects that reflect new and innovative research with a focus on interdisciplinarity and present a strong societal relevance and impact. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are also highlighted throughout these projects and connect them to a larger, global goal. After a thorough review process by ASI’s seed money committee, the five winning research proposals will be chosen. 

Do you want to apply with your project?

Applications are possible until the 1st February 2022.

Apply now

Seed money projects in previous years

  • Edition 2021

    Gold in Crisis – New environmental threats and global crime in South America

    South America is a region of prolonged social and ecological crisis. This project takes gold mining as a productive lens to examine these social dynamics for the cases of Colombia and Venezuela. Access to gold-rich territories is highly contested, mining causes pollution and deforestation, and from the moment of extraction, gold is a substance that has direct exchange value in global business networks that operate between formal and informal institutions. As such, the project explores the question: How do local dynamics of gold mining in Colombia and Venezuela drive contemporary global forms of social and environmental crisis? To highlight the relationship between local land uses and global forms of crisis and crime, we rely on a hybrid methodological approach that involves ethnographic fieldwork, qualitative criminological research, and spatial analysis and geospatial modelling of deforestation. By taking a multi-disciplinary approach, our project empirically connects local land uses, resource economies and alternative governance regimes to new forms of global exploitation of people and the environment.

    Contact persons:

    • Dr. Jesse Jonkman, Social & Cultural Anthropology, Faculty of Social Sciences
    • Dr. Žiga Malek, Environmental Geography, Faculty of Science
    • Dr. Clarissa Meerts, Criminology, Faculty of Law
    • Dr. Eva van Roekel, Social & Cultural Anthropology, Faculty of Social Sciences

    FireScapes – Towards an interdisciplinary understanding of wildfire risk mitigation in the Dutch landscape

    Over the last year, the number of wildfires has increased dramatically in the Netherlands and they are expected to increase further. This increase can be attributed to both climate change and changes in the use and management of the land. Researchers and fire practitioners plead for measures to prevent the spreading of fires over large natural areas, for example by developing vegetation buffers of low flammability between highly flammable areas. There are some important knowledge gaps that hamper the design of appropriate and effective prevention methods of wildfires in the Netherlands. While some measures exist, they may not be suitable for the Dutch landscape. Secondly, the current increase as well as prevention and mitigation of wildfires are the result of complex human-nature interactions. The design of appropriate measures therefore requires transdisciplinary collaboration and knowledge production. In this project, we want to map this knowledge gap on the relationship between wildfires, wildfire risk reduction and mitigation measures and the ecological, cultural and political values of the Dutch landscape. 

    Contact persons:

    • Dr. Linde Egberts, Art and Culture, History, Antiquity, Faculty of Humanities, CLUE+Research Institute
    • Dr. Evelien de Hoop, Athena Institute,Faculty of Science
    • Dr. Marleen de Ruiter, Water & Climate Risk, Institute for Environmental Studies, Faculty of Science
    • Dr. Sander Veraverbeke, Earth & Climate, Faculty of Science

    Festivals as innovative spaces for sustainability transition

    The urgent need for transition towards a sustainable society calls for novel initiatives to engage and mobilize people. In this research, it is claimed contemporary festivals can provide spaces for sustainability transition. Festivals are purposeful (inter)organizational productions that form temporary, ‘liminal’ spaces, set apart from ordinary, everyday settings, in which co-creation and innovation arise, having transformative potential. The research further taps into the notion that festivals are microcosms that can serve as prototypes for wider society. Namely, innovations can be tested in a festival space like a living lab representative of society, after which they can be applied or upscaled beyond the space if proven fruitful. Examples include the (re)design and (re)construction of energy, water, food and waste in a circular and sustainable way, and the formulation of alternative cultural norms, values and practices to raise awareness and shape behavior towards sustainable communities. To explore this, the aim of this qualitative research is to investigate how festivals can be conceptualized and organized as transformational spaces, and the theoretical and societal implications thereof. The expected contribution of this research is the implication that festivals represent new organizational forms and innovative spaces to facilitate sustainability transition.

    Contact persons:

    • Dr. Leonore van den Ende, Organization Science, Faculty of Social Science
    • Prof. Alfons van Marrewijk, Organization Science, Faculty of Social Science
    • Dr. Ernst Graamans, Management and Organization, School of Business and Economics
    • Dr. Edina Doci, Management and Organization, School of Business and Economics

    Firm-survey evidence on environmental policy and barriers to energy efficiency investments

    Hazards of climate change require us to make more efficient use of energy, as fossil energy usage often goes hand in hand with damages to the environment and climate. Firms play an important role in reducing fossil energy usage and increasing sustainable energy use. Energy is an important input to any firm’s production process. Since energy is costly, economic theory predicts that profit-maximizing firms make investments that profitably reduce energy usage. Nevertheless, many studies have identified a gap between seemingly optimal energy-efficiency investments and actual investments. This gap has been dubbed the ‘Energy Efficiency Paradox’. With the ASI seed money funds, we will survey Dutch firms to investigate the reasons for the existence of the energy-efficiency gap. Our survey will focus on issues related to environmental policy, labor market bottlenecks, capital market imperfections, misperceptions held by firms, and uncertainty over future technologies and policies. Results will contribute to current policy discussions in the Netherlands and allow for policy recommendations to increase energy-efficiency investments among Dutch firms.

    Contact persons:

    • MSc Leon Bremer, Spatial Economics, School of Business and Economics
    • MSc Sacha den Nijs, Spatial Economics, School of Business and Economics
    • Dr. Gerard van der Meijden, Spatial Economics, School of Business and Economics
    • Dr. Mark Koetse, Institute for Environmental Studies, Faculty of Science
    • Prof.dr.ir. Bart Bossink, Science, Business & Innovation, Faculty of Science

    Interrelating in the Anthropocene

    Operating at the interface of the humanities: theology/religious studies, the social sciences, and biology this project investigates the potential of cultural and religious imaginations, practices, and conceptualizations for reimagining human-nature relationships in the context of the Anthropocene. In a series of focused workshops (on human-plant relations; human-animal relations, and food practices), an interdisciplinary group of experts will come together to discuss how, why, or even if cultural and religious conceptualizations and practices matter for human-nature relationships in the Anthropocene.

    Contact persons:

    • Prof. Dr. Peter-Ben Smit, Text & Traditions, Faculty of Religion and Theology
    • Dr. Kristine Steenbergh, English Literature, Faculty of Humanities
    • Prof. Dr. Jessica Vance Roitman, Text & Traditions, Faculty of Religion and Theology
    • Dr. Frans Kamsteeg, Organization Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences
    • Dr. Harry Wels, Organization Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences
  • Edition 2020

    Enabling and empowering social entrepreneurship

    Contact persons:

    • Prof. Enno Masurel, Department of Management and Organization / VU Center for Entrepreneurship, School of Business and Economics
    • Dr Neil Thompson, Department of Management and Organization, School of Business and Economics
    • Dr Michel Verver, Department of Organization Sciences, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Social Science

    Plastic, science and society symposium: An exploration of the power of transdisciplinarity in sustainability research and education

    Contact persons:

    • Dr Heather Leslie, Department of Environment & Health, Faculty of Science
    • Miranda van Holland, 3D Program Coordinator, EARS, Valorization Officer Faculty of Religion and Theology

    Growing up with hope or despair? Investigating Dutch teenagers’ comportment towards the future in the age of climate change

    Contact persons: 

    • Dr Gerdien Bertram-Troost, Faculty of Religion and Theology and Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences 
    • Drs Jan Jorrit Hasselaar, Amsterdam Centre for Religion and Sustainable Development, Faculty of Religion and Theology
    • Dr Barbara Regeer, Athena Institute, Faculty of Science
    • Dr Pim Klaassen, Athena Institute, Faculty of Science
    • Dr Willemine Willems, Athena Institute, Faculty of Science

    Dutch homes gas-free by 2050? Speeding up the rate of energy-efficient renovations with the help of behavioral research

    Contact persons: 

    • Dr Julia Blasch, Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), Faculty of Science 
    • Dr Menusch Khadjavi, Department of Spatial Economics, School of Business and Economics 
    • Dr Giuliana Spadaro, Department of Experimental and Applied Psychology, Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences

    Human mortality in European cities under climate change

    Contact persons: 

    • Prof. Wouter Botzen, Department of Environmental Economics, Institute for Environmental Studies, Faculty of Sciences 
    • Prof. Hein Daanen, Department of Human Movement Sciences, Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences

    Does climate change cause emotional stress and undermine attention and productivity?

    Contact persons: 

    • Prof. Paul A. M. van Lange, Department of Experimental and Applied Psychology, Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences 
    • Dr Menusch Khadjavi, Department of Spatial Economics, School of Business and Economics

    Looking where no one is looking – a food system horizon scan to identify emerging food system issues

    Contact persons: 

    • Dr Verena Seufert, Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), Faculty of Science 
    • Dr Lia van Wesenbeeck, Amsterdam Centre for World Food Studies (ACWFS), School of Business and Economics 
    • Dr Tomris Cesuroglu, Athena Institute, Faculty of Science

    ICT 4 Food Security (I4FoodSec)

    Contact persons: 

    • Prof. Patricia Lago, Professor of Software Engineering and Sustainability, Faculty of Science 
    • Anna Bon, Senior Advisor, CIS-VU – Center of International Collaboration 
    • Wendelien Tuyp, Advisor Sustainable Land Management, CIS-VU – Center of International Collaboration
  • Edition 2019

    Workshop transitions in food-water-energy infrastructures

    Contact persons: 

    • Prof. P.J.E.M. van Dam, Environmental Humanities Center, Faculty of Humanities 
    • Dr S.J. Kluiving, Environmental Humanities Center, Faculty of Humanities 
    • Prof. K. Kwastek, Environmental Humanities Center, Faculty of Humanities 
    • Dr K. Steenbergh, Environmental Humanities Center, Faculty of Humanities 
    • Dr F.K. Boersema, Institute for Societal Resilience, Faculty of Social Science 
    • Dr T.I.E. Veldkamp, Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), Faculty of Science

    Misconceptions of Millennials: An interdisciplinary pilot study on consumer misconceptions about sustainable food choices and motivations for dietary change

    Contact persons: 

    • Dr Julia Blasch, Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), Faculty of Science 
    • Dr Harry Aiking, Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), Faculty of Science 
    • Dr Ziga Malek, Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), Faculty of Science 
    • Jantsje Mol MSc, Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), Faculty of Science 
    • Dr Meike Morren, Department of Marketing, School of Business and Economics 
    • Ivar Maas, Department of Experimental and Applied Psychology, Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences

    In hope we trust?

    Contact persons: 

    • Prof. Philipp Pattberg, Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), Faculty of Science 
    • Dr Paul Koster, Department of Spatial Economics, School of Business and Economics 
    • Prof. Peter-Ben Smit, Department of Texts and Traditions, Faculty of Theology and Religion 
    • Drs. Jan Jorrit Hasselaar MA, Amsterdam Centre for Religion & Sustainable Development, Faculty of Theology and Religion

    Drivers of climate-related human mortality and economic impacts

    Contact persons: 

    • Prof. Wouter Botzen, Institute for Environmental Studies, Faculty of Science 
    • Prof. Hein Daanen, Department of Human Movement Sciences, Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences 
    • Mireille Folkerts, Department Human Movement Sciences, Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences 
    • Mike Martinius, Institute for Environmental Studies, Faculty of Science

    Smart blue-green roof at VU Aula

    Contact persons: 

    • Dr Martijn Westhoff, Institute for Earth and Climate, Faculty of Science 
    • Dr Ralph Lasage, Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), Faculty of Science 
    • Prof. Jacob de Boer, Department of Environment and Health, Faculty of Science 
    • Prof. Petra van Dam, Environmental Humanities Center, Faculty of Humanities