Read the latest news from the VU Graduate School of Social Sciences.

News - incl. Confirmed Course dates!

The Graduate School organized the PhD Induction Program for all FSS’s first year PhD candidates. Theo van Tilburg and Naná de Graaff gave an introduction to the Graduate School, followed by the PhD career preparation workshop. Participants were challenged to think about their career path after their PhD and what steps they should take during their PhD to achieve this. During the alumni panel, Dhoya Snijders, Jacomijne Prins, Elske Stolte, and Sylvia Klokgieters answered all questions the new PhD candidates had. The day ended with drinks & dinner in The Basket. On Saturday participants followed the workshop Efficiency Skills and Project Management in PhD Projects by Hertz Training for Scientists. The participating PhD candidates can start their projects well prepared. Good Luck!

Inductie okt 2019

During the General Members’ Meeting (GMM) of September 20th 2019, Lucille Mattijssen was elected new president of the PhD Network Netherlands (PNN), the interest group for and by PhD students. Mattijssen is a PhD candidate of the Vrije UniversiteitAmsterdam, and will succeed Anne de Vries, who will leave the board of PNN after having been president for more than a year.
Mattijssen is looking forward to improving the position of PhD candidates in the coming year, together with the PNN board members and the PhD representatives from the universities. “PhDs are crucial for research and education at universities. At the same time, they are in a vulnerable position: their employment prospects in science are limited and they are highly dependent on their supervisors. The PNN unites PhD candidates and thus has the opportunity to put their interests on the agenda of policy makers.” 

Various topics require specific attention in the coming academic year. For example, PNN is closely following developments regarding the experiment on PhD students in Groningen. Mattijssen: “The argument that, as students rather than employees, PhDs would have more freedom in their project in no way outweighs the employment rights they lose. Giving PhDs a student status therefore means a net deterioration of PhD programs.” The influx of international bursary PhDs also brings new issues. “The scholarships these PhD students receive are often insufficient to make ends meet in the Netherlands.” Furthermore, the mental well-being of PhD candidates, the quality of the PhD programs and the labour market opportunities of PhD candidates remain important issues that PNN continues to stand up for. 

Within the PNN board, two new portfolios have been created for topics that the PNN wants to pay more attention to in the coming years. Tjitske van Engelen (Amsterdam UMC) will take on the portfolio Diversity and will focus on the problems that specific groups of PhDs in the Netherlands face. Carola Schoor (Maastricht University), an external PhD candidate herself, will be focusing in particular on the interests of external PhD candidates, a large group of PhDs who are often lost out of sight. She will also act as communication adviser for the PNN. Kimberley Anneveldt (Isala Zwolle) and Nicolien van Vliet (LUMC) have already taken office before the summer, as new secretary and board member for PhDs in academic medical centres respectively. Mattijssen: “With a total of nine board members, PNN is fully set for all challenges in the new academic year!”



Larger research projects provide enormous opportunities for PhD students to create an international network, to learn from experienced scholars and to obtain unique data sets or scripts. They, however, can also significantly delay dissertations and at times tend to be fertile grounds for data-driven projects instead of theoretically motivated work. Having experienced the opportunities and challenges of such projects first hand, Marc Jungblut provides some best practice for how to conceptualise, plan and write your thesis in a large collaborative project.

  • Writing Marathon: 15 November
  • Pizza Session: 7 November
  • Brown Bag Lunch: 12 December
  • Pizza Session: 12 December
  • Christmas Diner: 19 December

•    Arjen Schmidt will defend his dissertation entitled Turbulent Societies: How Governments Can Respond to the Mobilization of Societal Actors during Crises on 27 November, 13:45, Aula
•    Nelly Schotborgh-van de Ven will defend her dissertation entitled De wortels van publieke fraude en corruptie in het Caribisch deel van het Koninkrijk on 11 December, 11:45, Aula

Grace (Xiaodan) Feng
•    Research Topic: contemporary heritage industry in China, the discourse and its production and consumption.
•    Supervised by: Prof. dr. P.J.  Nyiri (SCA) and Prof. dr. B.J. de Kloet (UvA)


Nina Onopriychuk
•    Research Topic: Integrity agents? Understanding and enhancing the motivations of public servants
•    Supervised by: prof. dr. C.E. de Vries (BP) and prof. dr. G. de Graaf, (BP)


Sakina Loukili
•    Research Topic: Fighting the turn to the Right. 'Muslim' political parties in the Netherlands between 2014-2021.
•    Supervised by: prof. dr. I.L. Stengs (SCA), prof.dr. A. van den Bosch (Meertens Instituut) and dr. E. van den Hemel (Meertens Instituut)


Maura Gardeniers
•    Research Topic: Trajectories of disability and care among the oldest old
•    Supervised by: prof. dr. M.I. Broese Van Groenou (SOC) , prof. dr. M. Huisman (SOC) and Dr. E. Meijboom (external)


Yentl Dudink
•    Research Topic: Identiteitsversterking ABN AMRO
•    Supervised by: prof. dr. M.B. Veenswijk (ORG), prof. dr. I. Drori (ORG) and dr. Y.T.A. Taminiau (ORG)


Zahra Runderkamp
• Research Topic: Citizens in the making? The role of youth consultation programmes in the inclusion of young people in EU decision-making
• Supervised by: prof. dr. Ben Crum (B&P) and Dr. Liza Mügge (UvA)



Saud Al Busaidi
• Research Topic: Crisis Communication and CSR Communication
• Supervised by: dr. ir. Kees Boersma (ORG)


Gözde Duran
• Research Topic: Towards nursing competencies which improve access to care for Turkish and Moroccan migrants with dementia and their informal caregivers.
• Supervised by: prof. dr. Marjolein Broese Van Groenou (SOC), dr. H.P.J. van Hout (VUmc),  and Dr. Carolien Smits (Windesheim)


Alana Castro
• Research Topic: Rethinking the politics of reconciliation — Towards good Governance in the heritage sector
• Supervised by: prof. dr. Gert-Jan Burgers (HUM) and dr. Pieter Wagenaar (B&P)


Aleeha Ali
• Research Topic: Digital Mourning: YouTube majlis amongst Shi’ite Muslims in Europe
• Supervised by: prof. dr. Thijl Sunier (SCA)