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Dr. S. Jalal Mirnezami

Universität Osnabrück
Institut für Geographie
Seminarstraße 19ab
49074 Osnabrück

Raum: 02/310
: +49 541-969-6427


Dr. S. Jalal Mirnezami

Scholarship holder Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung

Research interests: Agency-structure relations, Sustainability transformation, Policy change processes, Policy implementation, Institutional history of water

From June 2021 I have started my post-doc fellowship funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation at the Resource Management Group.

The proposed research project will hopefully elaborate on an overlooked aspect of water governance research: the researchers themselves. For a relatively good period of time maybe at least two decades, researchers who have had an interest to delve into the roots of water management issues, have chosen to study different aspects of the water governance system. All various origins of interest for pursuing water governance studies, naturally reflect levels of concern for changing the business-as-usual, and this is why the water governance field of research is mostly regarded as transdisciplinary. However, so far the contributions of such researchers and their motivated identities have not been the matter of scrutiny. Thanks to the support by Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, here hosted by Prof. Dr. Claudia Pahl-Wostl, I have the opportunity to embark on this new self-reflexive research.

Shocked by my first professional experience (in my home country Iran) after receiving my Master of Science in the Water Resources Engineering in early 2010s at the University of Tehran, I found my expertise falling short to deal with the problems on the ground. In fact, the non-technical issues were dominating the problem situation and at most my knowledge had very little to contribute. By coincidence after reading a few analytical studies on the water governance, I found myself completely interested in this field of research and so it began.

From 2011 I started my PhD research at Tarbiat Modares University in Tehran. During my PhD, I received the opportunity to visit the CSTM in the University of Twente, the Netherlands. Successfully defended my dissertation in 2017, which was about the groundwater governance and the challenges that confront the groundwater conservation in Iran, a very tough problem that threatens the nations and of course the political systems in arid and semi-arid countries. My research showed that for several reasons even in highly distressed situations of groundwater downfall, neither the people nor the states might not be able to react properly or enough actively for finding resolutions. This was actually an implication of the huge burden on the shoulders of different actors including the researchers.

After my PhD, I continued doing research at the Sharif University of Technology (Sharif Policy Research Institute) in Tehran. Involvement in a few projects after my PhD was a relatively new experience that I could exercise, learn and reflect on my role as researcher in changing the status quo. Fortunately, I could see that some contributions are relatively being acknowledged at intellectual communities and beyond. Our study on the water reallocations in Iran and the ongoing silent dispossession of water was quite successful as it could win two national contests for best researches. We could bring the topic in the rhetoric of some national authorities, while it was also ignored or clearly disregarded by many. However, I gradually understood that I am getting more interested to think and write critically against the status quo and policy makers, sometimes flavored with deep affections. Despite the achievements in my contributions, I was actually witnessing that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to make the real changes, because we are playing in an endless undiscovered and complex arena which renders our contributions for the problem solving very unlikely. This was the moment that I realized, we as researchers require looking more deeply and critically to ourselves, and this could be the start to rethink the roles of different actors in water governance problems.

Research project

Our research will emphasize the agency of researchers from a self-reflective view.

The ultimate goal of this research is to gather and build upon our current understandings about the agency, to provide a common language for describing, communicating and developing our effectiveness in pursuing the change in the status quo. Therefore, we are going to conceptualize and investigate our agency in three different levels:

·  Science-policy relations - the agency of science and scientific works
What patterns of relation are observable between science and policy?

·  Researchers’ practices - the agency of researchers
What practices researchers take for gaining a practical authority for change making?

·  Researchers’ minds - the self-belief of researchers’ for exercising agency
What changes are happening to the self-efficacy belief of researchers?


Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have comments/suggestions or are interested to engage in our research.