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  3. PhD candidate on the project 'Tipping the iceberg: leveraging a food transition for indigenous communities in the Bering Sea' (1.0 FTE)

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PhD candidate on the project 'Tipping the iceberg: leveraging a food transition for indigenous communities in the Bering Sea' (1.0 FTE)

Are you interested in researching pathways to a sustainable future food system for Arctic indigenous communities? Then this PhD position is perfect for you!

3 maanden geleden


Domplein, Utrecht, Utrecht
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
36 - 40 uur
€ 2395 - € 2395 per maand


Indigenous Arctic communities experience a fundamental, undesired and unsustainable shift in their food system. Science-based visions of sustainable solutions are lacking and the capacity within communities to evoke change is low. This project aims to identify and initiate pathways to a sustainable future food system for Arctic indigenous communities. Meadow’s leverage points will be used as a conceptual basis to identify places in the system where a small shift may lead to fundamental systemic changes.
The project will combine fundamental research to gain a structural system understanding with an action-oriented project component, to directly integrate our scientific insights into management. Specifically, this interdisciplinary PhD research will (1) analyze the current structure of the food system by building a multiple-layer social-ecological network, (2) explore how the food system is influenced by the changes in people’s values and paradigms from the past until today, and (3) identify key leverage points for a food system transformation. Combining these perspectives allows us to identify the links between humans and nature that represent the interdependencies and feedbacks between them, and how they can be translated into leverage points for sustainability transformations.

To make the research actionable for future change, a Transformation Lab (T-Lab) will be established that involves and empowers community members to identify, agree upon, and manage transformation pathways towards a sustainable future. The research will take a place-based approach focusing on an indigenous community in the Bering Sea in Alaska, USA.

The PhD position is funded by the Complex Systems Fund installed by Dr Peter Koeze and aims to stimulate interdisciplinary research on complex systems. The PhD research is based at the Centre for Complex Systems Studies (CCSS), in collaboration with the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development and the Descartes Centre for History and Philosophy at Utrecht University. International collaborators are the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and the indigenous community on St. Paul Island, Bering Sea.

The prospective PhD candidate will partake in teaching activities organized by the CCSS, which include a bachelor’s and master’s minor in complex systems as well as a yearly summer school. Teaching commitments are limited to a maximum of 10% of your employment time. You are also expected to be an active junior member of the CCSS and contribute to activities such as science jams.


We are looking for a candidate with the following attributes:

  • a master’s degree (or an international equivalent) in environmental science, sustainability science, quantitative social science or related field;
  • a keen interest to work at the intersection of natural and social science;
  • experience in statistical data analysis, modelling and systems-thinking mindset;
  • willingness to learn and use interviews, participatory methods and qualitative data analysis;
  • strong social skills to establish the T-Lab and lead workshops with people of different backgrounds in the context of an indigenous community in the Bering Sea;
  • willingness to spend prolonged periods (up to 3 months) each year on remote islands in the Bering Sea;
  • excellent scientific communication skills (written and orally) in English.
The following criteria are also desireable:
  • research experience on food systems;
  • field experience within an indigenous context;
  • experience with (social-ecological) network modelling or agent-based modelling;
  • interdisciplinary background rooted in natural science with some experience in social sciences.


This is an appointment of 1.0 FTE for the duration of 1 year fixed with expected extension of an additional 3 years. The gross salary starts with €2,395 per month in the first year and increases to €3,061 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 Ine Dorresteijn (Main Supervisor), via i.dorresteijn@uu.nl or+31 30 253 4291