Future Students

I supervised a few dozen of Master students at various institutions (VU Amsterdam, TU Delft, ADA University, Utrecht University and ISS) and a number of Ph.D. students over the years covering a wide range of topics in environmental governance and public policy. I am currently interested in supervising new Ph.D. students and would be open to supervising MA students at ISS (and beyond) whose topics fall under the broad categories outlined below.

Policy Translation and Narratives

I am interested in applying an interpretive lens to understanding policy design and implementation. By the interpretive lense, I mean the exploration of meanings of public policies to various groups of populations (so-called interpretive communities), co-existence of various framings of policy problems and solutions, and the role of politics in what we come to know and hold as “true knowledge” in regard to policy. Methods to study policy interpertively include, among others, discourse analysis, in-depth interviews, narrative studies and ethnographic methods.

Within this broad theme, I remain interested in studying how, and to what effect, environmental and water policy innovations travel across various borders (often from Global North to Global South, but also from South to South and from South to North). This research line concerns itself with the three categories of policy translation during such cross-jurisdictional travel: the politics of meaning, the politics of scale and the politics of contingency (see page on Policy Translation on this blog for more details, or read Mukhtarov, 2014).

Knowledge Pluralism and Policy (Institutional) Design

I am interested in how policy-makers and public managers can make use of multiple ways of knowing in public policy and governance. Scientific knowledge is only one type of knowledge, there is indigenous knowledge, knowledge based on rituals, practices and values. They all are valuable and need to be included in the policy-making process.

The role of discourses and framing of knowledge make an important part of this research avenue, including the struggles over meanings and their plasticity. However, the key challenge in policy-making, in my understanding, is the ability of the system to allow for stitching together knowledge claims that come from different sources (e.g. knowledge based on experience as opposed to knowledge based on books), not only different frames.

Behavioural Approaches to Public Policy

I am interested in the role of emotions and nudging in changing environmental (as well as policy) attitudes and promoting sustainable public policies in the world. I approach emotions and behavioral science from a public policy perspective and ask questions about the transition to sustainability and the place of so-called “libertarian paternalism” in it.

Taken broader, this theme includes my interest in understanding the role of emotions, cognition and behavioural aspects in public policy, be it in an environmental domain or any other policy domain.

Global Water Governance Under Neo-liberalism

This is the most recent research interest of mine that sprung out of the empirical obervation of various ethical and political dilemmas around the use of global water governance and international water cooperation by the Global North to pursue the twin goals of a) development in recipient countries (often Global South) and b) profits for themselves. The rise of neo-liberalism in international aid, aid and trade and, arguably, global water governance, raises serious issues around effectiveness, equity, fairness and power that need to be researched. Within this line of inquiry, I am interested in understanding the role of branding, networking and soft-power in the global field of water governance.