Edwin de Jong

Edwin de Jong
I find it special to observe how students develop their knowledge, skills, and identity, ultimately finding their own position in the world.
Edwin de Jong
Anthropology and Development Studies
Current role
Programme Director and Associate Professor at Anthropology and Development Studies

Edwin de Jong is an associate professor at Radboud University.

Can you introduce yourself?

After completing my studies and dissertation, I conducted research in Anthropology and Development Studies at Radboud University as a postdoc and Assistant Professor. My broad interests have proven very useful in this role! In my teaching, I cover both methodology and theory, so students may encounter me in various courses within the Master's programme. Additionally, they might recognise me as the programme director, responsible for steering the Anthropology and Development Studies programme in the right direction. 

Why did you choose to study/work in this field? What makes this field so interesting?

I find Anthropology and Development Studies incredibly fascinating because it is intrinsically connected to people. We study and talk about people, but it is also for and by people. In this field, we explore human experiences and societal structures, trying to understand the world from diverse perspectives. In other words, we seek to comprehend the lived realities and experiences of human beings. This exploration allows me to grasp the complexity, often termed as ‘wickedness’, of various issues, gradually unravelling the bigger picture by integrating multiple areas of expertise. 

My enthusiasm naturally led me to teaching. As an educator, I aim to impart not only knowledge and skills to students, but also a certain critical perspective. Therefore, my vision involves promoting socially engaged learning, which means engaging with and for society to address contemporary challenges and achieve social change and make an impact.

What are you currently doing your own research on?

In Indonesia, we are developing a roadmap against water-related disasters using a social-ecological relations theory. This involves studying how processes between different aspects of flooding in urban regions can be transformed or mitigated by (groups of) people. As principal investigator, I oversee both the content and management of this project, ensuring everything stays on track. A rewarding aspect of this work is the involvement of Master's students, who contribute both from the Netherlands and on location in Indonesia. 

I also supervise doctoral research focused on social aspects of water management and farmers' perspectives on agriculture and sustainability. By involving farmers, we gain valuable local expertise and give a voice to local stakeholders in the development process.

What advice do you have for students making their study choice?

That's a good question! It helped me to consider community involvement. Reflect on how society inspires you and which elements and aspects fascinates and engage you. Our programme deals with current, real-world issues. Identify the themes that resonate with you. My advice is to find where your personal interests overlap the field of study. Within the Master's programme, you will conduct research in a socially engaged way, develop your own vision, and position yourself as an advocate for change. Does this align with your aspirations?

What does your work in practice bring to your academic work, and vice versa?

“The more you know, the more you realise you don't know.” This becomes evident in both my teaching and research. My practical work and academic pursuits are deeply intertwined. I bring practical topics to my classes and strive to apply academic insights in real-world contexts. This integrating is a core strength of Anthropology and Development Studies. Studying complex and large issues in small places, calls for adopting multiple perspectives to understand and address effectively. From these different perspectives, we then do our best to understand a “wicked problem” and thereby contribute to a possible policy recommendation. A lesson I have learned: good research often concludes with even more questions. 

What is the best part of being a lecturer?

Students enter the Master's programme with a Bachelor's degree, often still adjusting and searching for their next steps. Witnessing their growth over the year is incredibly rewarding. Learning form setbacks and mistakes, they tackle challenges with so much energy and passion. I find it special to observe how students develop their knowledge, skills, and identity, ultimately finding their own position in the world. Seeing this journey, with its peaks and troughs, is truly inspiring.