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  3. 2 PhD positions for NWO Vidi project ANTICIPLAY: Unlocking the potential of simulation gaming for anticipatory governance (1.0 FTE)

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2 PhD positions for NWO Vidi project ANTICIPLAY: Unlocking the potential of simulation gaming for anticipatory governance (1.0 FTE)

Utrecht University's Faculty of Geosciences is looking for 2 PhD candidates in the project 'Unlocking the potential of simulation gaming for anticipatory governance'. Interested? Read more and apply here.

8 maanden geleden


Domplein, Utrecht, Utrecht
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
36 - 40 uur
€ 2325 - € 2325 per maand


State and non-state actors around the world are urgently seeking new ways to reach global goals such as global climate change targets and the UN-led Sustainable Development Goals. They need new approaches to ‘anticipatory governance’ – governance that actively considers the future to inform present day decisions. However, while current model-based foresight methods are able to provide macro-level analyses about the scale of change needed, these approaches are unable to offer insights about changes needed to systems of governance and to the roles of different societal actors. This is an important societal and scientific gap – because imagining and enacting concrete and actionable changes to current systems of governance is crucial.

The NWO Vidi project ANTICIPLAY is led by Dr. Joost Vervoort, and is housed at the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University. ANTICIPLAY seeks to create a radical new direction for the research and practice of anticipatory governance. It aims to unlock the potential of simulation gaming as a new approach to experimenting with future governance systems. Because simulation games focus ‘roles’ and ‘rules’, they represent a research direction with significant potential for governance simulations. Moreover, the game sector currently eclipses all other media in scale, and is therefore a significant cultural influence - and games are starting to be used for large-scale political change efforts.

ANTICIPLAY aims to investigate when and why simulation gaming can impact anticipatory governance as well as the representation of systems of governance in simulation games. To do this, it investigates 1) the past, current and potential roles of games in formal governance spaces such as participatory policy formulation processes and major civil society-supported strategy development; and 2) the past, current and potential roles of the commercial game sector as spaces for publics to engage with new social imaginaries and develop futures literacy. These insights are brought together to 3) develop a ground-breaking new methodological approach – game co-design for anticipatory governance – to be applied in the cities of Utrecht and Kyoto. ANTICIPLAY combines analyses of existing global and national practices with high-level governance experiments in two case study countries: The Netherlands and Japan. The project builds on a long history of global research by Dr. Vervoort on futures methods for policy guidance, and on gaming for governance. ANTICIPLAY’s research has concrete applications for research and action in many global contexts. The project runs from January 1st 2020 until the end of 2024.

In the context of this project, we are advertising two PhD positions (1.0 FTE for four years each):

  • PhD 1 will focus on researching the use of games in formal anticipatory governance contexts. This includes analysing and evaluating existing cases globally, in the Netherlands, and in Japan; as well as research by experimental game design;
  • PhD 2 will focus on researching the role of the game sector in enabling and/or limiting the futures literacy and the future imaginaries of publics involved in sustainability in informal anticipatory governance contexts. Just as with PhD 1, this research will involve the analysis of existing cases in the Netherlands and Japan, and research by experimental game design.


Specific requirements
• The candidate for PhD 1 should have an MSc in a field relevant to the interaction between games as a governance intervention, and the governance of (future) sustainability challenges. Examples would be a political science degree in a futures/planning/sustainability context; or a game-focused degree with a strong political science and sustainability focus.
• The candidate for PhD 2 should have an MSc in a field relevant to the interaction between games as a cultural phenomenon and the capacities among societal actors to imagine and engage with futures. Examples would be a sociology, anthropology or social psychology degree with a focus on games; or a game studies degree with a strong focus on sociological, cultural and social psychology aspects of games.

NOTE on language: because of the case study focus of this project, applicants to either PhD positions should be fluent in either a) Dutch or b) Japanese; fluency in both is a plus.

Requirements for both PhD positions
• A strong background and interest in sustainability challenges, strategic planning, and futures.
• Experience in and enthusiasm for the organization and facilitation of multi-stakeholder processes.
• Experience with the analysis of historic case studies.
• Hands-on experience with game design/development is a plus.
• Ability and willingness to work across social science disciplines.
• Excellent English communication skills (both written and oral).
• Ability to work independently as well as under supervision.
• Able to work under time pressure.
• Good team player.
• Strong affinity with working in an interdisciplinary and international research environment.


This is an appointment of 1.0 FTE for the duration of four years. The gross salary starts with €2,325 per month in the first year and increases to €2,972 per month in the fourth year of employment (scale P according to the Collective Employment Agreement of the Dutch Universities) for a full-time employment.

Besides that, you will receive a holiday allowance of 8 % and a year-end bonus of 8.3 %. Utrecht University also has an appealing package of terms of employment, including the choice for a good balance between work and private (a good arrangement for leave, among other things), possibilities for development and an excellent pension scheme. More information on working at Utrecht University can be found here.

Additional information

For more information about this position, please contact Dr. Joost Vervoort (Assistant Professor of Foresight and Anticipatory Governance), via j.m.vervoort@uu.nl or +316 41 12 81 15.