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PhD position: 'Climate mobility in the West African Borderlands'

Do you have a background in human geography, political science, anthropology or a related social science field, and do you want to join an exciting new …

3 maanden geleden


Droevendaalsesteeg, Wageningen, Gelderland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 - 38 uur
€ 2434 - € 2434 per maand


Do you have a background in human geography, political science, anthropology or a related social science field, and do you want to join an exciting new project on 'Climate Mobility in the Borderlands'? Its core objective is to offer an in-depth and interdisciplinary study of the interplay between climate change and regional borderlands - their history, politics, social relations and drivers of mobility -in shaping cross-border human mobility. Understanding the historical and social nature of mobility avoids assuming climate change-related mobility is per se "new" and "exceptional". Instead, this project aims to uncover how cross-border climate mobility is rooted in mobility histories, contexts and understandings. The project is funded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO).

There are 2 positions available within this project:
PhD1: Climate mobility in the West-African borderlands
PhD2: Climate mobility in the Bengal and Pacific borderlands
This advert concerns the first position. For the second, please click here

PhD1: You will conduct research about the relations between climate change and mobility amongst nomadic fishers and nomadic pastoralists in the West African borderlands. The focus is on the Fante fishers and the Fulani pastoralists - the first affected by climatic changes in the maritime environment and the second by climatic changes in the drylands. Bringing these case-studies together in one PhD project allows for a deep understanding of nomadic and seasonal mobility in the West African borderlands and how that interplays with climatic changes. You will examine the cases in their own right and take account of differences and connections between the case-studies -in terms of historical and seasonal mobility patterns; the type of climate change impacts; the colonial legacy and the shaping of borders; insecurities and social dynamics in the region and how the mobilities under research are being governed. You will spend about 18 months in Ghana and neighbouring countries for fieldwork and knowledge utilization activities; although adjustments to the work plan may be made in the context of the pandemic. You will be based at the Environmental Policy Group (ENP) at Wageningen University, and will work in collaboration with University of Ghana, the University of Cape Coast (Ghana), and Deltares (The Netherlands).

More information on the project
Climate Mobility in the Borderlands is a 5-year research program funded by the Netherlands Scientific Organisation (NWO)'s Vidi program, led by Dr. Ingrid Boas (PI). Its objective is to examine the nexus between climate change and human mobility in borderland contexts. The project will focus on communities who have historically been mobile in relation to environmental challenges. Think of pastoralists or nomadic fishers, or people living in dynamic deltas. We aim to uncover how their mobility is being affected by climate change. Is climate change disrupting or changing their mobility patterns and if so, how? How do the historical and socio-cultural ways of moving intersect with these dynamics? And how does this play out in settings of cross-border movement and border controls? How is the relation between climate change and mobility mediated by the drivers, politics and history of the borderlands in question? The project will centralize the lived experiences and perspectives of those moving, both through participatory mobile/visual methods and collaborative forms of knowledge utilization. In collaboration with Deltares, we will also use interdisciplinary tools to identify the role of climate change in accounts of mobility.


You have

  • a successfully completed Master's in human/social geography, political science, anthropology, sociology or a related field;
  • a collaborative and team-oriented attitude, with an open mind for other scientific approaches and forms of knowledge. You will for instance work with the PI and Deltares using climate change data to complement ethnographic fieldwork, or will work with migrants in knowledge utilization activities;
  • experience in ethnographic types of field research, also using visual methods, is preferred;
  • experience in scientific publishing is preferred;
  • knowledge of the borderland context is preferred. This may include proven connections or research experience in one of the regions/countries of research, and language skills fitting the communities in question. And proficiency of French is preferred;
  • excellent English language proficiency (a minimum of CEFR C2 level). For more information about this proficiency level, please visit our special language page.


Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:
  • sabbatical leave, study leave, and partially paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional compensation / holiday hours by working more, up to 40 hours per week;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.
In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will receive a fully funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team.
The gross salary for the first year is € 2.434,- per month rising to € 3.111,- in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 38 hours. We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended for the duration of the project if you perform well.

There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the "Best University" in the Netherlands for the 17th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad
Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees. Applicants from abroad moving to the Netherlands may qualify for a special tax relief, known as the 30% ruling. Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.

Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research's International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about helping your partner to find a job, housing, schooling, and other issues.

Additional information

For more information about this position or the project, please contact Dr. Ingrid Boas, Associate Professor, ingrid.boas@wur.nl

For more information about the procedure, please contact Sandra Willemsen, Corporate recruiter or Bianca Aversteeg, Recruitment support via recruitment.ssg@wur.nl.

Do you want to apply?
You can apply directly using the apply button on the vacancy page on our website which will allow us to process your personal information with your approval.

Your application should include:
  1. Cover letter motivating your interest and suitability;
  2. Curriculum vitae. Please include here names and contact details for two referees.
Short-listed candidates to be invited for an interview will be requested to provide academic transcripts, a writing sample, and a three-page interpretation of how you would undertake this research based on your reading of the full proposal (to be shared with the short-listed candidates). These candidates will be asked to pitch their approach to the PhD position during the interview. Please do not attach these materials at this time of the application process.

This vacancy will be listed up to and including 20 December 2021. We hope to schedule the first job interviews on 17/18 January 2022.

The preferred starting date for this position is 1 March 2022 or soon after.

Equal opportunities
Wageningen University & Research (WUR) employs a large number of people with very different backgrounds and qualities, who inspire and motivate each other. We want every talent to feel at home in our organisation and be offered the same career opportunities. We therefore especially welcome applications from people who are underrepresented at WUR. For more information please go to our inclusivity page. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment.