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Phd Position In Institutionalization Of Public Engagement

The VU Amsterdam has the ambition of fostering research and education that contribute to (local) societal issues. This contribution can be realized, amongst …

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De Boelelaan, Amsterdam, Noord-Holland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
32 - 40 uur
€ 2395 - € 3061 per maand


The VU Amsterdam has the ambition of fostering research and education that contribute to (local) societal issues. This contribution can be realized, amongst other forms, through transdisciplinary approaches that promotes students’ learning through their active participation in experiences of community/public engagement. It is not only beneficial for students and teachers for improving social engagement and enhancing skills and aptitudes, but also to community partners to address pertinent issues in the society.
In order to institutionalise public engagement, a systems approach is required. This means that we do not only see this process that takes place not only VU-wide, but also considering its interconnectedness and in interactions with the environment. Therefore, other actors involved in the system (faculty, researchers, students, social partners, municipality, funding agencies, etc.) must be considered.
This PhD position involves research on institutionalizing of transdisciplinary processes that involve engagement of academic and non-academics actors in research and education and how this process may contribute to lasting societal, professional and institutional, change. To do so, a combination of qualitative methods (literature review, interviews, focus groups) and quantitative methods (surveys, experiments) should be used.

Your duties

As a Ph.D. student on these projects your main tasks and responsibilities are:

  • to work in close collaboration with the community service learning (CSL) team, and students, teachers and community partners.
  • to carry out literature study, surveys, interviews, and focus groups with stakeholders to understand how competences are developed in public engagement processes within VU Amsterdam.
  • to develop new ideas and insights which will lead to international publications and a Ph.D. thesis
  • to assist in teaching activities of the department
  • Your work will be supported with committed supervision and additional training in methods you are not familiar with. If you share our enthusiasm for the academic challenges and relevance of the proposed research topic and meet the requirements below, then we encourage you to apply for the position.


We are looking for an enthusiastic, curious, and creative candidate who has:

  • a master’s degree preferably in the field of science, economics, organizational behaviour, sociology or a related field with interdisciplinary and/or transdisciplinary focus
  • practical experience with qualitative research methods: collection or analysis of interviews/focus groups (knowledge of Atlas.ti, NVIVO, or comparable is an advantage) and/or practical experience with quantitative methods: statistical analysis (SPSS, STATA, or R)
  • previous experience with one or more of the following: participatory methodologies, mixed-methods research approach, stakeholder interaction, or other co-creative processes
  • previous knowledge of (neo)-institutional theories is an asset
  • Good organizational, networking and communication skills to interact and connect successfully with students, lecturers, community partners, other stakeholders as well as researchers of other disciplines
  • fluency in spoken and written English and Dutch are essential
  • the ability to work both independently and as part of a team
  • strong track record and research skills, relative to experience, and excellent academic writing and presentation skills


A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts to a minimum gross monthly salary of €2,395 (PhD) and a maximum €3,061 (PhD) based on full-time employment. The job profile is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 0.8 FT. The PhD student can choose to divide their duties between either 75% research - 15% education - 10% other activities or 50% research - 40% education - 10% other activities. With the 40% education option there is the possibility of obtaining BKO qualification

The appointment will initially be for 1 year with a possible extension conditional upon assessment of adequate functioning.

Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment,
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus,
  • solid pension scheme (ABP),
  • possibility to save holiday hours,
  • for sabbatical leave, child daycare facilities available on campus

Additional information

Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until 7 october 2021.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Prof. Dr. M.B.M. Zweekhorst
Position: Chair Innovation and Education in the health and life sciences
E-mail: m.b.m.zweekhorst@vu.nl

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