dr. A.A.C.G. van der Graaf (Shenja)

Assistant Professor

About Me

Shenja van der Graaf is a digital society scholar at the Department of Communication Science at the technical University of Twente. If there is one common thread joining her research activities together, it is an interest in moments of transition and the dynamics that accompany them arising from innovations associated with information and communication technologies. Interests and expertise focus on production and consumption cultures; media (histories) and everyday life; media infrastructures; media / ICT (responsible) innovation and regulation in the public interest; and, alternative economic and governance systems.

Van der Graaf has held several research, advisory and management positions, in particular in the Netherlands, Belgium, UK, Japan, and USA. In various positions she has served as a PI on major grants and consulted with public and private entities, such as OECD, European Commission, UN, Turner Networks, and Microsoft. Her expertise has also been shown and translated into various lectureships, (board) memberships and publications. In this capacity, she has been committed to exploring how greater understanding of media systems can inform and assist citizens, scholars and policymakers in Europe and abroad to advance campaigns for technological literacy, creative expression, social justice, and human rights. 

Before joining the BMS faculty, van der Graaf was Principal Researcher at imec-SMIT, VUB leading the Unit ‘Data Governance & Communities’ (former ‘Smart Cities’), where she also served as a Board member.

Van der Graaf is a graduate of Utrecht University (MA, 1999), Leiden University (Postgrad, 2000) and the London School of Economics and Political Science (PhD, 2009). She has been an honorary fellow at MIT Media Lab (ID3 Hub), a fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society (Harvard) and the Research Center for Information Law (University of St. Gallen), a consulting researcher at Convergence Culture Consortium (MIT), an alumna of the Oxford Internet Institute (Oxford), and worked as consultant for Hakuhodo Inc. in Tokyo.



If there is one common thread joining my research activities together, it is an interest in moments of transition and the dynamics that accompany them.

Amidst social, technological and economic challenges, I have been particularly intrigued by the governance of new technologies and digital culture, and organizational and micro-level change, especially, at the intersection of commerce and the community.

Currently, I am developing a research track in the ways the web, mobile devices, virtual and augmented reality seem to rescript our nervous system, and change the structure of our brain and challenge functions for empathy and decision-making. I am interested in developing new models of contemporary human online culture. For this purpose, I am working at the intersection of digital culture and neuroscience.


  • Digital, cumulative culture & evolution
  • Information repertoires and everyday life
  • Media infrastructures
  • (Transmedia) narratives / storytelling
  • Urban, economic and governance alternative systems

Some keywords to investigate these themes:

Social life development (in individuals, over generations, communities); Digital polarization; Information repertoires (perception and practices in transition); Narrativity; Co-creation; (More-than-human) Ecosystems; Predictive modeling; Niche construction; Active inference; Media studies; User innovation; ...

I welcome PhD + Postdoc enquiries from candidates wishing to pursue projects in the above subject areas.


Veeckman, C., Claes, S., van Audenhove, L. , & Graaf, S. V. D. (2023). A framework for making citizen science inclusive with storytelling methods. Frontiers in Environmental Science, 11, 12. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.3389/fenvs.2023.1211213
Montakhabi, M., Madhusudan, A., Mustafa, M. A., Vanhaverbeke, W., Almirall, E. , & Graaf, S. V. D. (2023). Leveraging Blockchain for Energy Transition in Urban Contexts. Big Data & Society, 10(2). https://doi.org/10.1177/20539517231205503
Grasa, E., Seppälä, J., Alonso-Solis, A., Haapea, M., Isohanni, M., Miettunen, J., Mendivelso, J. C., Almazan, C., Rubinstein, K., Caspi, A., Unoka, Z., Farkas, K., Usall, J., Ochoa, S. , van der Graaf, S., Jewell, C., Triantafillou, A., Stevens, M., Reixach, E., ... Corripio, I. (2023). m-RESIST, a Mobile Therapeutic Intervention for Treatment-Resistant Schizophrenia: Feasibility, Acceptability, and Usability Study. JMIR Formative Research, 7, Article e46179. https://doi.org/10.2196/46179
Montakhabi, M. , van der Graaf, S., & Mustafa, M. A. (2023). Valuing the value: An affordances perspective on new models in the electricity market. Energy research & social science, 96, Article 102902. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2022.102902
Ibrus, I. , Van Der Graaf, S., & Nieborg, D. B. (2022). Introduction: Welcome to the Metaverse! (again?). Baltic Screen Media Review, 10(2), 198-200. https://doi.org/10.2478/bsmr-2022-0014
Montakhabi, M. , van der Graaf, S., Madhusudan, A., Sarenche, R., & Mustafa, M. A. (2021). Fostering Energy Transition in Smart Cities: DLTs for Peer-to-Peer Electricity Trading. In 2021 17th International Conference on Distributed Computing in Sensor Systems (DCOSS) (International Conference on Distributed Computing in Sensor Systems (DCOSS); Vol. 2021, No. 17). IEEE. https://doi.org/10.1109/DCOSS52077.2021.00078
Huybrechts, L. , van der Graaf, S., D'Hauwers, R., & Pierson, J. (2021). Belgium: adoption of the sharing economy. In A. Klimczuk, V. Cesnuityte, & G. Avram (Eds.), The Collaborative Economy in Action: European Perspectives (pp. 52-66). University of Limerick. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.5546596

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Zoek de Verschillen! De rol van zoekcultuur in digitale polarisatie. Grant: SIDN (2023-2025)

Digital Polarisation (Dutch Search Experience, partnership with Queensland University of Technology and AWS) (2022 - 2023). Grant: UT (2022)

PhD supervision

Carina Veeckman; "The democratising effects of citizen science: engaging the public in scientific research" (VUB-UT; co-promotor) (2023 - present)

Lilian Boerkamp; "A multi-step approach toward digital inclusion support for households in poverty" (UT, co-promotor) (2022 - present)

Mehdi Montakhabi; "How can digitalization transform an institutionalized industry setting? Emergence and scale-up of business ecoystems in regulated industries"(imec-smit, Vrije Universiteit Brussels; co-promotor) (2019 - present)


Prometheus (2021-2023): Grant: EIT-HEI Initiative (EC)

Sense-Data-Reflect (Vrije Universiteit Brussels; Global Minds, with University of the Western Cape) (2020 - 2022)


Contact Details

Visiting Address

University of Twente
Drienerlolaan 5
7522 NB Enschede
The Netherlands

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Mailing Address

University of Twente
P.O. Box 217
7500 AE Enschede
The Netherlands

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Office: C223

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