Liza Diane Gordin and Ines Stelk took home the Kremers Incentive Awards 2019 in the bachelor’s and master’s categories.

Ines Stelk and Liza Diane Gordin win Kremers Incentive Awards

Liza Diane Gordin and Ines Stelk took home the Kremers Incentive Awards 2019 in the bachelor’s and master’s categories on Saturday 30 November. During Dansen op de Mijnen at the Parkstad Limburg Theatre in Heerlen, Dr Sjeng Kremers presented the awards, each including a cash prize of €1,500.

The Kremers Award is a biennial prize for theses and dissertations on regional socioeconomic restructuring. It is an initiative of Stichting Behoud Mijnhistorie (Foundation for the Preservation of Mining History, SBM), which aims to keep alive the lessons learned from the closure of the mines in South Limburg. For the 2019 award, there were six nominations in the bachelor’s, master’s and PhD categories. Liza Diane Gordin won the Incentive Award for her bachelor’s thesis ‘Equity in the transition to higher education of prospective first-generation students in Limburg’. Ines Stelk received the Incentive Award for her master’s thesis ‘The role of citizen participation in transformations: A study of remunicipalisations and the German energy transition’.

Incentivising further research

Sjeng Kremers, the chair of the jury, praised both theses. For her MSc in Public Policy and Human Development at Maastricht University and United Nations University–Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT), Ines investigated the impact and role of civic engagement in structural transformations. Before that, she conducted an in-depth case study on energy transition in Wolfhagen, Germany. The jury was impressed by the topical nature of her thesis, focusing on an issue with which many governments are currently grappling. The jury also appreciated the comparison with Germany, which, unlike the Netherlands, is not a ‘polder country’ (i.e. a country with a strong culture of consensus decision making). Ines’s qualitative study led to the formulation of 13 concrete hypotheses that the jury believes are ripe for further study, and which swayed their decision in her favour.

Liza Diane Gordin wrote her bachelor’s thesis at University College Maastricht (UCM) on the prospects of first-generation students (i.e. students whose parents did not receive a higher education). In the jury’s view, she laid a solid foundation for a highly interesting study drawing on theories of sociocultural and economic capital, but her recommendations could have been more concrete. The SBM chair Karel Major, who presented the prize, expected more fireworks and revolutionary ideas from Liza Diane, who is herself a first-generation student with a track record of social engagement. Given the potential reflected in her thesis, the jury challenged Liza Diane to produce an outstanding master’s thesis in a few years’ time.

Ward Ooms (OU) won first prize in the PhD category with his dissertation ‘Innovation through collaboration: Challenging the assumptions’. Dirk Janssen (Eindhoven University of Technology, graduate of UCM) won the master’s category with his thesis ‘Learning strategies of high tech software firms: The case of Brainport’s High Tech Software Cluster’.

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