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PhD Position Critical Computing in the Public Interest

For a project on Programmable Infrastructures we invite applications for a PhD position in computer science and/or software production from a public interest perspective.

3 maanden geleden


Mekelweg, Delft, Zuid-Holland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
32 - 40 uur
€ 2395 - € 3061 per maand


Reflection and critique have been instrumental in the development of new approaches in computer science. This is evident from progress made in privacy or transparency enhancing technologies, distributed computing, fairness and explainability, protective optimization technologies as well as "critical computing" and design. What these approaches have in common is their recognition of the role of computational power and its impact on society. These strands of research and practice intend to rethink and propose alternatives to common methods and techniques in computer science and software engineering in order to ensure the protection of fundamental rights and equitable outcomes.

However, both computer science and software production have been undergoing paradigmatic changes due to transformations in the computing industry, reconfiguring the potential and efficacy of existing critical approaches to computing. In particular, many of our societies are now dependent on, and impacted by computational infrastructures that are controlled by a small number of large companies. These companies pursue the development of “programmable infrastructures” (https://www.tudelft.nl/tpm/programmable-infrastructures/), a political, economic and technological vision that advocates for the integration of computational infrastructure onto our common infrastructures like transportation, energy, health, education, or labor. An important part of this vision is the use of data-intensive computation that increases dependency on cloud infrastructures and privileges optimization as its approach. These unprecedented changes are reconfiguring what it means to do critical computing in the public interest, and necessitate new directions of reflection and interdisciplinary exploration.

PhD Position
This position invites applicants interested in developing research in critical computing, exploring new methods in computer science or software production, and/or addressing the challenges of ensuring that computational infrastructures serve the public interest.

Possible topics for this position include, but are not limited to:

  • privacy enhancing technologies and privacy engineering
  • protective optimization technologies or other critical approaches in machine learning
  • measurement studies in service ecosystems and cloud infrastructures
  • political economy of software industries, including cloud infrastructures, service architectures, production environments etc.
  • empirical studies of software production and integration in programmable infrastructures
  • requirements engineering or software engineering methodologies
  • alternative design and infrastructures for public interest technologies

Successful candidates will benefit from working in a dedicated setting that appreciates and promotes interdisciplinary research at a leading technical university. Succesfull applicants will be able to work with dr. Seda Gürses in building an international community of scholars advancing socio-technical and critical studies of computer science and current computational infrastructures. Successful candidates will also benefit from close collaborations with dr. Roel Dobbe and his group in the Engineering Systems and Services (ESS) department working on AI from a socio-technical perspective. The selected candidates will have access to a broad network of academics, civil society actors, activists and artists working on public interest computing at TU Delft and elsewhere.


Candidates for the PhD position are expected to bring the skills and motivation necessary to conduct interdisciplinary research and successfully complete a PhD position within the dedicated time. Formally, the applicants should have a Master degree or equivalent in computer science or a field that provides a good basis from which to engage computer science or software production. Candidates should be comfortable with conducting research, open to learning new methods and topics, and interested in seeking collaborations with others. Given the topics, the candidates will have some knowledge of either software engineering, machine learning, cryptography or experience working in the software or hardware industries. Some background or interest in critical theory, e.g., feminism, decoloniality, post-secularism, or disability studies, is a plus. The candidates should have interdisciplinary skills, the ability to work independently and collaboratively, and some excitement for imagining other possible worlds. Proficiency in written and spoken English is a prerequisite.


TU Delft offers PhD-candidates a 4-year contract, with an official go/no go progress assessment after one year. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2395 per month in the first year to € 3061 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation.

Additional information

For information about this vacancy, you can contact Seda Gürses, Associate Professor, email: f.s.gurses@tudelft.nl.

For information about the selection procedure, please contact Olivie Beek, Human Resources, email: o.f.y.m.a.beek@tudelft.nl.