foto Javier Esparcia Perez
PDI-Catedratic/a d'Universitat
Department: Geography
Javier Esparcia Pérez Dr. en Geografía e Historia (Univ. de Valencia) Dr. en Sociología (Univ. Autónoma de Barcelona) Catedrático de Análisis Geográfico Regional Institudo Universitario de Desarrollo Local Departamento de Geografía - Facultad de Geografía e Historia Apdo. 22.060, 46.010 Valencia (España) Tel. 96 386 4764
(9638) 64764

Javier ESPARCIA is PhD in Geography from the University of Valencia (1990) and in Sociology from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (2017), becoming Associate Professor (1990) and finally Full Professor of Geography (national qualification in June 2004, effective in January 2006) at the same University, to which he is linked.

After his PhD in Geography (1990, University of Valencia), in September 2017 his has finished with Cum Laude his doctorate in Sociology (Autonomous University of Barcelona), defending his second PhD thesis, about “Social Capital and Territorial Development: Social Networks and Leadership in the new Rural Dynamics in Spain”.

He is currently inter-university coordinator of the Doctorate Programme Local Development and International Cooperation, and editor of the Journal of Studies on Depopulation and Rural Development-AGER (AGER Youtube channel).

He currently has five complements (six years each) of research productivity (positive evaluations). He has been manager of the National Programme of R+D+i in Social Sciences (2004-2009) (Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness, Secretary of State for Research, Development and Innovation); Spanish representative in the European Science Foundation-ESF (Management Committee [2005/2007] and Social Sciences Standing Committee [2007-2013]); member of the National Commission for the Evaluation of Research Activity -CNEAI- (2013-2015); and area coordinator in the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology -FECYT- (2016), and evaluator of scientific journals for several years. He is a member of the ESF College of Review Panel Members and the Expert Panel H2020 of the European Commission. From 2016 to 2021 he chaired ANECA's E-19 University Teaching Staff Accreditation Committee. Since 2018 he is an evaluator in the Social Sciences Discipline Committee of the Czech Science Foundation.

He has been Head of the Department of Geography from April 2009 to October 2010, and director of the Master in Management and Promotion of Local Development (at the Research Institute for Local Development, University of Valencia), until September 2011.

He is Principal Researcher in the Research Group on Rural Development and Public Policy Evaluation-UDERVAL (GIUV2015-214) at the University of Valencia, to which belong, among others, Dr. Jaime Escribano, Dr. J. Javier Serrano, Dr. Nestor Vercher, Cristina Herraiz, Rafael Mesa, Dr. Francisca Camacho, Diana Mendieta and Sergio Bellés.

He develops his research activities on several topics within the line of research of local and territorial development, mainly in rural areas:

1. Depopulation processes and territorial development: based on the project "Depopulation in Spain: from Demographic Challenge to Territorial Challenge" (2021-2025), four major perspectives are addressed, demographic and active population, legal-administrative, support systems (services, housing, etc.), and the civic, social and institutional environment. The territorial perspective takes into account, on the one hand, local production systems and labour markets and, on the other hand, entrepreneurship and the business and organisational climate. As cross-cutting elements, the gender perspective, the role of young people and immigration, among others, are considered.

2. Social capital and territorial development: social networks, power elites and leadership in rural areas. This line of work uses the Social Network Analysis approach.  This line of research is completed with the thematic areas of crisis and resilience in local communities.

3. Entrepreneurial fabric and socio-productive systems in rural and intermediate areas: culture and entrepreneurial networks, innovation processes, social networks and, in general, factors that contribute to territorial social capital and to processes of social and economic transformation. Recently, and in connection with the work on social capital, work is being done on issues of social innovation in development projects and initiatives in rural areas.

4. Local and territorial development policies and strategies in rural areas: socio-economic transformation processes, new activities, actors in territorial management and territorial development policies.

In his professional scientific activity he has been a contributor to the Spanish Unit of the European Observatory, then Animation and Promotion of Rural Development Unit (Ministry of Agriculture) and Member of the Editorial Board ofActualidad LEADER- Journal of RuralDevelopment (1999 - 2004), in which he has published numerous articles. He also collaborated with DG Agri of the European Commission preparing material for the application of the Community Initiative LEADER. He has been expert evaluator for the European Commission in the different R+D Framework Programmes since 1998 to the present, including COFUND programmes and Marie Curie Actions, in fields as Common Agricultural Policy, policies of regional development, cooperation, environment and research.

From 2004 to January 2009 he has been Manager in charge of Social Sciences in the National R+D+I Programme (DG Research). He was the Spanish representative in the Management Committee of the European Science Foundation (2005-2007), becoming appointed by the Ministry of Science and Innovation and the National Research Council as the Spanish representative in the Social Sciences Standing Committee of the European Science Foundation (2007 to October 2013).

He has conducted and participated in the evaluation of rural development policies, especially the LEADER and PRODER programmes for both regional government of Valencia and the European Commission, and was appointed as member of group of experts who evaluated both programmes for General Directorate of Rural Development (current Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment, 2011). More recently he conducted the intermediate evaluation of LEADER in Spain (Esparcia, J. and R. Mesa, 2021: LEADER en España. Cambios recientes, situación actual y orientaciones para su mejora. Universitat de Valencia. Estudios y Documentos & Red Rural Nacional, 32. 456 p.)

His scientific activity has focused mainly on regional, local and rural development as basic research issue, especially aspects such as socio-economic transformation processes in rural areas, the role of new activities, social capital and the actors in land management and rural development policies. On these subjects he has been the supervisor of several doctoral theses, being some other in-progress under his responsibility. He belongs to the scientific board of several journals and he is actively involved in the evaluation of papers as external reviewer, such as Sociologia Ruralis, Journal of Rural Studies, International Journal of Sustainable Development, Urban Geography, International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food, The Geographical Journal, Geoforum, African Journal of Agricultural Research, Ecological Indicators, International Journal of Sustainable Development, in addition to national journals such as Investigaciones Regionales, Revista Internacional de Sociología, Papeles de Geografía, Revista Española de Estudios Agrosociales, Revista de Estudios Regionales, Estudios Territoriales, Geographicalia, Anales de Geografía de la Universidad Complutense, AGER-Revista de Estudios sobre Despoblación y Desarrollo Rural, Cuadernos de Geografía, etc.

He is also doing research on local socio-productive systems in rural areas, research which is completing with analysis of the relationship between social capital and regional development, and specifically the role of social networks, leadership and elites and structures power in the socio-economic dynamics of rural areas (funded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation). Depopulation is also a main topic (having chaired the Depopulation Catedra of the University of Valencia until december 2020) and now conducting a research project with the participation of about 25 researchers across Spain (2021-2025); he uses to give lectures and conferences on different related issues across the country.

His research activity has been developed on numerous research projects, mainly funded by the European Commission and to a lesser extent the DG Research (national government) or other regional governments. He has also worked on projects and contracts, also mainly for public administrations. During the last years his main research is devoted to the analysis of social capital and territorial development, and depopulation processes in rural areas.

The main research projects are:


  • Depopulation in Spain: from a demographic challenge to a territorial challenge. Spanish National Research Agency. Ministry of Science and Innovation.  PID2020-114554RB-I00 (2021-2025.
  • Rural-Urban Outlooks: Unlocking Synergies (ROBUST). European Commission. Research & Innovation, H2020-RUR-2016-2 (Rural Renaissance – Fostering innovation and business opportunities). 727988-2 (2017-2020). 
  • Personal networks and rural territories: spatial and temporal dynamics, innovations and social support. Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (3016-2018).
  • Social capital and territorial development. Crisis, resilience and leadership in the new rural dynamics in Spain. Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (3013-2015).
  • Social capital and territorial development. Social networks, power elites and leadership in the new rural dynamics in Spain. Ministry of Science and Innovation, DG Research (2010-2012).
  • Rural Areas, People and Innovative Development (RAPIDO). Commission of the European Communities, DG Research, VI Framework Programme (2007-2009).
  • A Cognitive Approach to Rural Sustainable Development: The Dynamics of Expert and Lay Knowledges (CORASON). Commission of the European Communities, DG Research, VI Framework Programme (2004- 2006).
  • Entrepreneurship and social and productive local systems in lagging rural regions in Spain. Ministry of Science and Innovation, DG Research. (2003- 2006).
  • Building New Relationships in Rural Areas Under Urban Pressure (Building Rurban Relations). Commission of the European Communities, DG Research, VI Framework Programme (2002-2005).
  • Aspatial Peripherality, Innovation and the Rural Economy (ASPIRE). Commission of the European Communities, DGXI, VI Framework Programme (2001-2004).
  • Supporting and Promoting Integrated Tourism in Europe`s lagging Rural Regions (SPRITE). Commission of the European Communities, DGXI, VI Framework Programme (2001- 2004).
  • Partnerships for Rural Integrated Development in Europe (PRIDE). Commission of the European Communities, DGVI, FAIR Programme (1999- 2001).
  • Regional Images and the Promotion of quality products and services in the lagging regions of the European Union (RIPPLE). Commission of the European Communities, DGVI, FAIR Programme (1997- 1999).
  • Improving the Economic Impact of Public Institutions on lagging Rural and Coastal Regions. Commission of the European Communities, DG-XII-XIV-VI, AIR Programme (1994- 1996).


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Subjects taught and teaching methods
Second semester
Second semester
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PhD Thesis