Julia Backhaus (J.)
In her doctoral research, Julia studies assumptions that individual actors or actor groups involved in change initiatives towards more sustainable, just or inclusive societies hold about what is at stake and about how change can be brought about. In addition, she is involved in the TRANSIT project that aims to develop an empirically-grounded, theoretically-rich and practically-useful theory of transformative social change. Her main research interests revolve around societal change, sustainable consumption and energy transitions.
Next to her research, Julia coordinates, tutors and lectures in courses at Bachelor and Master level and regularly supervises undergraduate and graduate research projects. She is also part of the Steering Committee of the European branch of the Sustainable Consumption Research and Action Initiative, SCORAI Europe. Julia holds an interdisciplinary BSc (cum laude) and an MSc in Science and Technology Studies.
- sustainable living
- behavioural change
- social innovation
- transformative change
- practice theories
Professional career history
Before joining ICIS, Julia worked at the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN), one of the leading knowledge institutes on renewable energy technologies, energy policies, market mechanisms and social changes accompanying transitions to a low-carbon future. She participated in and led a variety of research projects on demand-side management, behavior change (Changing Behaviour) and sustainable lifestyles (SPREAD), as well as on social perceptions and user involvement in the development and implementation of energy technologies (e.g. smart grids, hydrogen and electric vehicles). Methods employed include small-scale pilot experiments, scenario development and backcasting methods, as well as survey and interview analyses. All projects involved the development or improvement of tools to support policy and other decision-makers in future planning and strategy development or project managers in the design, implementation and evaluation of behaviour change programmes.
Julia followed a Research Master (MPhil) at Maastricht University entitled “Cultures of Arts, Science and Technology” which taught students about (how to conduct) research on the mutual shaping of the arts, science, technology and society. Prior to that, she graduated with a BSc cum laude from a Bachelor programme in the Liberal Arts. If she were to select a theme for her Bachelor studies, based on her interdisciplinary curriculum that included courses in psychology, neuroscience, sociology and philosophy, that theme would be "Being and Becoming".