Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies

Emil Evenhuis

Emil Evenhuis

Your postgraduate research

My PhD project started from the idea that the problems that many old industrial regions cope with: 

  • comparatively less prosperity
  • lower quality of life (more poverty, crime, segregation, etc) 
  • decline in population

can be related to a lack of adaptation to changing circumstances, including: 

  • technology
  • market competition 
  • lifestyles 

The aim was to explain the mechanisms of (a lack of) adaptation. This focused on the institutional aspects concerning regional economic development. 

These included arrangements regulating the way various actors in the regional economy interact with each other. I compared these processes of (lack of) adaptation in three old industrial regions.

I was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and Newcastle University. I received a three-and-a-half-year full studentship. 

The extra half year was to complete research training (Postgraduate Certificate in Research Training). This was provided by the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Choosing CURDS

I started looking into places for a PhD well before actually applying. I had some rough ideas of what I wanted to do. I put them on paper, and arranged talks with professors that I thought could help me. 

My ideas developed further and I got a better sense of: 

  • the topic for my proposed project
  • the relevant literature on this topic
  • the people that could supervise my project

In the end, I wanted to go to a British university (I am from The Netherlands). There is more expertise on old industrial regions. I also liked the adventure of spending several years abroad. 

I found people at CURDS (Andy Pike, John Tomaney and Stuart Dawley) had published articles related to my research. They covered aspects I wanted to highlight. These included governance and institutional aspects in evolution of regions. 

So I e-mailed them with a first draft of my research proposal. They immediately got back to me and supported my application at the university. They later helped with the ESRC-studentship.

Academic and career history

I studied Economics and Philosophy at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. I obtained a Masters' in both subjects. 

I also did a BA in Japanese Studies, also in Rotterdam, and studied a year in Japan as an exchange student. After finishing my studies in 2004, I worked as an economic consultant in The Netherlands for about seven years. 

I advised governments at various levels on investments in: 

  • urban development
  • infrastructure
  • real estate projects. 

I also completed a two-year part-time MPA-programme at the Netherlands School for Public Administration in 2010.

Studying with CURDS

I liked how CURDS combines theoretical developments with what's going on in practice. Because CURDS consults on real-life issues, they are in touch with what is going on in the world. 

They know current concerns for policy makers; much more so than other universities. 

Moreover, CURDS takes quite an integral view to regional development. There is a lot of freedom to devise your project in the way you deem fit. 

This means students can transcend disciplinary boundaries and combine insights from many strands.

Student life at Newcastle University

The postgraduate research students all had a desk in a large common room. The community was quite close, and students had coffee, lunch and drinks together. 

The library and IT-facilities are definitely quite good. 

All PhD-students enter a research training programme. This had some useful modules, especially if you are new to higher education in the United Kingdom.

Living in Newcastle

Newcastle is not a big city so you can get around walking or cycling; but the public transport is also good. The city centre and riverfront are quite pretty, with nice Georgian and Victorian architecture. 

There are a lot of students in Newcastle, with two universities. So there are many pubs, bars, inexpensive places to eat and clubs around. 

Not far from Newcastle there is beautiful scenery in Northumberland, Scotland, the Lake District and Yorkshire. I joined the student hiking society, so every now and then I would go for a walk in these places.