The north of the Netherlands has extensive gas fields in the subsurface. The largest, and most actively explored, gas field is lying under the province of Groningen. Besides all the economic benefits for the region the gas exploration also results in gas exploration induced earthquakes. These earthquakes result in damage at several places in the region that has started a big public and political debate if the gas exploration should continue, be reduced or even stopped.
A wicked problem like this is in fact a system of interrelated problems where there are many players and the problem adapts – it changes and anything you do will change the problem. So what can you do to find a solution? Well, learn about the problem, study and watch the system, appreciate other points of view, become skilled in how to use the system and educate stakeholders. In Spatial Engineering you learn the skills and methods to employ three knowledge areas in finding a solution to wicked problems.
- Technical engineering to be able to model and understand the physical processes
- Spatial information to know where, when and what is happening, and
- Spatial planning and governance to be able to use for interventions as well as predict socio economic drivers. For each an explanation follows.
Case study - Man-induced earthquakes
In the first year of Spatial Engineering, one of the case studies focusses on the situation in Groningen. In this project you will be preparing a document for a public hearing in The Hague. It will be based on the viewpoint of one of the stakeholders in the problem but should also consider arguments by other stakeholders. You will prepare one technical document to be defended in a, simulated, public hearing, and an info document for the general public about your technical document.
You will be asked to represent the viewpoint of one of the stakeholders. To balance your analysis you will initially start with an analysis of all possible stakeholders. Through analysis (e.g. decision support methods) you select the five most influential stakeholders for your stakeholder perspective (so five others next to your stakeholder). For your stakeholder and each of the five most prominent stakeholders you identify, at least, five reasons for continuing, reducing or stopping with the gas exploration. Based on this analysis, and including subsurface conditions, technical aspects, and economic and social considerations, you prepare your final stakeholder perspective.