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PhD project on designing sustainable urban practices and their governance

The Department of Political Science of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG) invites applications to PHD positon within a project which is part …

20 dagen geleden


Nieuwe Achtergracht, Amsterdam, Noord-Holland
Vast contract
Uren per week:
38 - 38 uur
€ 2325 - € 2972 per maand


The Department of Political Science of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG) invites applications to PHD positon within a project which is part of a wider, NWO funded project Beyond adaptation and mitigation to regeneration: Transforming behaviour by changing the recursive relationship between behaviour and transition-relevant systems (TransB). This project is a collaboration between the Maastricht Sustainability Institute (MSI) at the School of Business and Economics (SBE) of Maastricht University, the Centre for Urban Studies (CUS) of the Amsterdam Institute of Social Science Research (AISSR) and a consortium of public and private partners in Helmond, Kerkrade, the Province of Limburg and Amsterdam respectively. The project team will consist of three PhD candidates (2 based at Maastricht University, 1 at Amsterdam University) and 2 postdoctoral researchers (one in Maastricht and one in Amsterdam).

What will you be doing?

By creatively combining functional needs such as zero energy housing, water-based recreation, avoidance of sewage overflows and river floods, the use of grey water and re-use of (upcycled) materials new, more integrated solutions can be identified. This proposal will promote development of such synergistic solutions that contribute to multiple urban sustainability transitions, focusing on chances for multiple value creation through functional re-combinations and new governance arrangements.     

Such solutions will imply achieving deep behavioural change amongst citizen-consumers, professionals, government agencies, etc. Following the social theory of practice, we will understand these actor’s behaviour as constituted by their respective practices and their interactions.     

It is thus important that such actors acquire an understanding of and take seriously the motivations of other actors, their capabilities for change, and the arrangements and ways of thinking that govern their actions. This is the core of the rationale for adopting a co-creation approach to designing synergistic solutions.

The present project allows us to strengthen the co-creation process in each of these projects and come up with recommendations for governance, co-creation guidelines for multiple value creation projects, and conducive institutional arrangements. Methodologically novel aspects of the project are 1) the use of the arts and design thinking to enable broad participation and connect innovations to the ways in which citizens act and think 2) the use of transition experiments to learn about behaviour and system change, and 3) the attention to arrangements and structures that enhance Societal Readiness Levels for projects based on multiple value creation.

An extract of the overall project proposal may be downloaded. The PhD candidate we are now hiring will work especially on the Koppelkansen project in Amsterdam.

Key responsibilities of the PhD candidate:

  • conduct transdisciplinary research that contributes to the project deliverables and the writing of a PhD thesis, consisting of four academic articles;
  • being an active member of the Knowledge Action Network Kennisactiewater;
  • undertake relevant coursework and other training;
  • contribute to the teaching programmes (max 10% of the contracted time).


We are looking for a self-driven, curious person who is interested in research, who is a critical and systematic thinker who can easily shift between the concrete and abstract and has a record of high academic achievement (e.g. good grades, a master thesis, other research papers and/or involvement in other academic activities). In the project, you are expected to engage with issues of complexity, normativity and uncertainty, in direct encounters with practitioners. Discussions on ethics and valuation are part of the project. Applicants are asked to send their CV, a motivation letter (maximum of 1 page) and a 1500 word position paper on multiple value creation via reflexive interactive design (Bos, A.P., Groot Koerkamp, P., Gosselink, J.M.J., Bokma, S. (2009)) and transdisciplinary learning.

Eligible candidates must:

  • have successfully completed a Master’s degree (MSc or MA) in Sustainability Science or a Social Science study with courses on sustainability and have a good 'competence' in written and spoken English next to command of the Dutch language;
  • have a Masters degree (MSc or MA) in Sustainability Science or a Social Science Study with courses on sustainaibility;
  • have a good competence in written and spoken English;
  • have close to native speaker command of Dutch, be able to read documents and participate in meetings in Dutch;
  • have affinity with science communication and popular communication;
  • have the ability to work independently, and as part of a team.

Students of Design studies with affinity with social science who have worked with stakeholders in a design for sustainability project are also eligible.


Our offer

The position concerns a temporary employment of 38 hours per week for a maximum term of 4 years. The initial employment is for one year. Following a positive assessment and barring altered circumstances, this term will be extended by a maximum of 36 months, which should result in the conferral of a doctorate.

Your salary will be €2,325 gross per month in the first year and will increase to €2,972 in the final year, based on full-time employment and in keeping with the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities. We additionally offer an extensive package of secondary benefits, including 8% holiday allowance and a year-end bonus of 8.3%. 

What else can we offer you?

A challenging work environment with a variety of duties and ample scope for individual initiative and development within an inspiring organisation. The social and behavioural sciences play a leading role in addressing the major societal challenges faced by the world, the Netherlands and Amsterdam, now and in the future.

To work at the University of Amsterdam is to work in a discerning, independent, creative, innovative and international climate characterised by an open atmosphere and a genuine engagement with the city of Amsterdam and society.

Additional information

If you have questions or require additional information, please contact:

Would you like to learn more about working at the University of Amsterdam? Visit our website.


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