What can NGOs do if they have a research question but don’t have the money to fund the research? The campus has the perfect solution: the Science Shop. It originated because students at the then Agricultural College didn’t ‘just’ want education and research. They wanted a problem-oriented approach that also encompassed groups in society who had little or no access to science. To prove their point, they occupied one of the college buildings. For four weeks, until the Science Shop’s predecessor was established.
These days, WUR needs a lot less persuading to support the Science Shop. For example, WUR gave funding of almost half a million euros last year for the Science Shop’s projects. The money was used to study the recycling options for non-wearable textiles and figure out what mobile grazing management with cows and chickens means for grassland with herbaceous plants on sandy soil — to give a couple of examples. But the principal research theme at the Science Shop is food production, accounting for 19 of the 51 projects in 2021.
It is very satisfying to be out in the field working on insights that are badly needed
The best thing about the Science Shop is that the work is meaningful, say the researchers (mostly a mix of students and WUR professionals). It is very satisfying to be out in the field working on insights that are badly needed, with no risk that all you do is produce a report no one ever reads. The NGOs that come to the Science Shop are enthusiastic too as it gives them access to knowledge. They are taken more seriously as a result, and that helps them make the world a better place. So things are going well. There is one wish, though: to be even more accessible and better known. This article should help.
There are about 100 companies on campus. We introduce them to you in Resource. This time: the Science Shop.