Board Members

Petra van Dam

pasfoto 2019 door Bert B

Petra J.E.M. van Dam is one of the main experts in the field of ecological (or environmental) history in Europe. As vice-chair of the European Society for Environmental History she contributed to establishing the ESEH Summer schools, she was the organizer of the ESEH Amsterdam 2007 Conference, ‘Global Perspectives.’ She co-founded the book series ‘The Environment in History: International Perspective’ (Berghahn Publishers, Oxford-New York) together with Russia specialist Prof. dr. David Moon (York University, GB), Prof. dr. Christof Mauch and Prof. dr. Helmut Trischler (directors of the Rachel Carson Center for Environmental Studies, München). She is also an editorial committee member of the scholarly Journal Environment and History (Cambridge). At the VU she holds the Chair for Water, Environment and History in the Faculty of Humanities, Department of History, funded by the Schilthuisfonds. She is co-founder of the Environmental Humanities Center at this Faculty.

She is convinced that currently, after decades of growing awareness among ever larger groups, generally consensus exists about the urgency of environmental and sustainability issues. One feels this most strongly among university students. Their questions are directed towards investigating ‘historical imaginaries’, finding solutions and models of behaviour and political decisions in the past, that will lead to more sustainable ways of living in the future. Her research interests are assessing the balance between the natural and human agency in environmental change and studying the resilience vulnerability of societies to natural disasters. Petra van Dam and her students wrote some 10 books and 80 scholarly and general articles. Her latest book is Van Amsterdams peil naar Europees referentiepeil. De geschiedenis van het NAP tot 2018 (2018) [The history of the Amsterdam Vertical Reference Level]. Her upcoming book is Swimming Rabbits. An Amphibious Society dealing with Environmental Change.

Julia Kantelberg


Julia Kantelberg is Research Master student in Visual Arts, Media and Architecture at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Media, Art, Design and Architecture with a specialisation in design. Her interest goes out to the relationship between design, ethics and environmental issues. She wishes to continue her research in this cross-disciplinary field.

Sjoerd Kluiving


Sjoerd Kluiving currently holds the position of assistant professor at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, working in the fields of geoarchaeology, Quaternary geology and landscape archaeology. Since 2016 he teaches the course Environmental Archaeology at Amsterdam University College. Sjoerd earned his BSc and MSc in Physical Geography and Glacial Geology at the University of Amsterdam in 1986 and 1989, and his PhD in Geology at the University of Alabama (US) in 2001, where he specialised in subglacial processes in the Ross Sea, Antarctica.

Sjoerd coordinates 15 PhD candidates in the EU Horizon 2020 Marie-Skłodowska-Curie Project: MSCA-ITN-TERRANOVA (2019-2023). This project researches previous and future energy regimes in Europe, combining geology, archaeology, ecology, (palaeo)climatology, landscape management and rewilding. It is also a co-applicant in the funded NWO-project ‘What went into the melting pot? (2019-2023), with 2 PhD candidates in geoarchaeology and palaeobotany, and a post-doc on pottery practices in the period 1000-500 BC in the Mediterranean area.

Sjoerd leads the International Association of Landscape Archaeology (IALA), uniting geologists, archaeologists and historians. He has vast experience in convening interdisciplinary sessions in soils, landscapes and archaeology at EGU, EAA and LAC, and is guest editor of multiple special volumes dedicated to this theme. Sjoerd is co-supervising 4 PhD students in the field of landscape archaeology on the interface of archaeology and the earth sciences. Besides his teaching position, he has a research and consulting company in earth sciences and works for government agencies and archaeological companies. Sjoerd has a special interest in interdisciplinary collaboration between nature and culture and Anthropocene studies.

Stephanie König

Stephanie is a Research Master student in the Humanities with a specialisation in Literature and Contested Spaces at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. She graduated from her Bachelor of Arts at the University of Zurich in English Literature and Linguistics and Film Studies. Throughout her studies she has developed an interest in the relationship between geographies, movement/migration, identity and representation. She wishes to focus her research on the interactions between storytelling and the environment.

Joëlle Koorneef


Joëlle Koorneef is the current student-assistent of the Environmental Humanities Center. She is a Humanities Research Master student with a specialisation in Literature and Contested Spaces at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Joëlle graduated from University College Roosevelt with a Bachelor of Arts in religion, antiquity, and literature. She is interested in studying the way that language and narrative shape our compassion for animals. As a scuba diver, she appreciates marine biodiversity and is concerned for the decline thereof. As part of her job as student-assistant she will help organise the Transitions Workshop in fall 2019.

Katja Kwastek


Katja Kwastek is professor of modern and contemporary art history at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Her research focuses on processual, digital and post-digital art, media history, theory and aesthetics, and digital humanities.  Under the notion of ‘slow media art’, she researches artworks which explores the interrelations of human and non-human, technological, cultural and biological timeframes. The concept of slowness has recently been significantly broadened towards a more metaphorical understanding, which does encompass questions of sustainability and a rehabilitation of the local (c.f. the popular notion of ‘slow food’). In 2004, Katja Kwastek curated the first international exhibition and conference project on “Art and Wireless Communication”. She has lectured internationally and published many books and essays, including her most recent “Aesthetics of Interaction in Digital Art” (MIT Press, 2013).

Tim Renders


Tim Renders is a first year Research Master student in Visual Arts, Media and Architecture at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He graduated from his Bachelor Media, Art, Design and Architecture last year and wrote his thesis on artworks that relate to environmental issues and sustainability. He is especially interested in the relationship between art, sustainability and environmental activism and would like to develop more knowledge on these intersections.

Kristine Steenbergh


Kristine Steenbergh is lecturer and researcher in English literature at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Her research focuses on the early modern period (1500-1700), the history of emotions, and ecocriticism. She is a board member and webmaster of the Benelux Association for the Study of Art, Culture and the Environment (BASCE), and general editor of the journal Cultural History. Kristine has taught several courses in ecocriticism, focusing on the early modern period  as well as on contemporary novels. She also co-taught a course on the Environmental Humanities in the research master for students of literature and history.

Former board members

Ankie Petersen

Ankie Petersen

Ankie is an MA student Heritage Studies and Design Cultures who has a special interest in urban history and sustainable urban development. Currently, she is doing research on new developments in sustainable heritage management in the UNESCO zone of Amsterdam, and works for the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam on the Week of the Vacant Building – heritage redevelopment publication that will be published February 2018.

Sarah Rodrigues

Sarah Rodrigues is enrolled in the MSc Environment and Resource Management programme at Vrije Universiteit and is a part-time vegan Pastry Chef. She has a FdA in Art & Design from Central Saint Martins in London and a BA in Liberal Arts & Sciences from Amsterdam University College. Her academic interests include art, film, philosophy, anthropology and environmental studies. Currently, her master thesis research is focused on medicinal plant businesses and sustainable rural economic development in Portugal, and will be published as an audio-visual essay on-line. She is interested in pursuing an interdisciplinary career in (artistic) research, environmental consultancy and project management.

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