Me and my colleague Jorge have talked about two groups, green telecommuters and urban homesteaders, who both blur the line between urban and rural. It's possible to live outside of a large city and do (part) of your work from home with the help of ICT. It's also possible to live in a city and be pretty serious about gardening and small-scale husbandry.
Me and Jorge are, I guess, thinking about putting together a research application later, but as a first step we met a month ago and started to discuss what a thesis proposal in this area might look like. This week we met and finalized a thesis proposal we called "Green distance work in Sweden" [written in Swedish].
We are especially interested in "distance workers with a green agenda", something we define as:
1) distance workers who live in a smaller city or on the countryside,
2) who work from home a least one day per week (and who might have "downshifted" and work less than 40 hours/week)
3) who have a "green agenda" behind this decision of theirs (i.e. to lower their energy use and their CO2 footprint etc.)
We did in fact define three distinct tasks/theses proposals, and in a best case scenario, different students would explore two or all three questions in parallel. The thesis proposal is fine, I guess, but we would need to beef up the list of proposed literature a little more. We still went ahead and published it though and add to the literature list later. Please add your own suggestions for literature in the form of a comment below!
Talking about thesis proposals, I have a blog solely for this purpose and where every blog post in fact is a thesis proposal. I haven't been very active lately though, and this was only the second to appear this year.
We will have a new batch of students who will write their bachelor's thesis at our department during the spring, and I have set as a goal to publish at least ten new proposals before the end of this year. That's not as difficult as it sounds, I have at least twice as many ideas and drafts that I just haven't had the time to finalize. That's one of the tasks for December though, when my two courses (that keep me very busy indeed at the moment) end.