Two Ph.D. Researcher Vacancies Sustainable and just transition pathways for mobility and energy

Two Ph.D. Researcher Vacancies Sustainable and just transition pathways for mobility and energy

Published Deadline Location
3 Aug 31 Aug Rotterdam

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DRIFT is seeking to expand its team with a new driven, motivated and outstanding PhD researcher interested in sustainability transitions with a focus on mobility and energy and with a passion in linking scientific understanding and insights to policy and practice. The doctoral researcher will be part of the NEON research project and as thus connected to a national collaboration between different universities and research groups, NGOs, public authorities and companies. As part of the DRIFT team, the researcher will also engage in other activities in the field of research, education, consultancy and practice.

Job description

The NEON project

Societal transitions in energy and mobility are driven by persistent problems: not only environmental pollution and waste of resources, but also inequalities, negative impacts on health and safety, spatial pressures and injustices, and transport poverty. Dominant approaches to knowledge, innovation and policy are not able to develop the types of changes that fundamentally address these issues. But there are however all sorts of alternatives emerging, such as new technologies, business models, user-practices, guiding visions and other adjacent transformative innovations around electrification, digitalization, sharing and sustainability.

To explore how such alternatives in sustainable energy and mobility could lead to a desired transition and what the different transition pathways are to a zero carbon, smart, electric mobility for all, DRIFT is taking part in the NEON project, a national collaboration between different universities and research groups, NGOs, public authorities and companies. A lot of the work in the NEON project focuses on the technological, economic, and institutional feasibility: can it be done, how and at what costs. DRIFT will focus more on the social and governance dimension: under what conditions could this transition to a sustainable mobility future be just, inclusive and equitable? And what is the role of governance and policy in facilitating a transition towards this just and sustainable future? For both questions, the challenges is to better understand current lock-ins and path-dependencies created by the socio-technical ‘regimes’: the dominant culture, (physical and economic) structures and practices of the mobility system. The aim is to use this understanding to enrich the models and roadmaps developed within NEON as well as to engage with policy and practice to explore and experiment with ways to accelerate desired transitions.

To support our work in NEON we are looking for two applied researchers that will work within DRIFT projects and research on two interrelated and complementary PhD projects. Their role will be to develop new knowledge on the socio-cultural and governance dimensions of this mobility transition. They will do so by traditional forms of research and conceptual work but at least as important is the interaction with researchers in the NEON consortium and co-creation and experimentation in practice with (local and regional) government. Our mission at DRIFT is to develop knowledge in and with practice for sustainability transitions: your role will therefore be to develop your PhD project as an impact and action oriented project and to have your activities directly support the transition to a just and sustainable future.

1.    PhD1 will focus on the socio-economic dimensions of the mobility transition (inequality / access / income distribution / use of public space / participation), envisaging just and sustainable futures and how to embed the implications into scenarios, models and decision making. How can we change the socio-economic impact of mobility from lack of access and unequal distribution of resources, space and negative impacts towards the active support of inclusivity, health and justice?

2.    PhD2 will focus on the governance challenges in transforming to a just and sustainable mobility future. As it assumes large scale behavioural change (no more individual cars), a completely different economy (no income from fossil or parking) and a much more collaborative culture, what are the types of governance strategies and instruments to support this, to implement phase out of existing undesirable practices and to support large scale behavioural change?

Other activities

In other DRIFT projects and activities, the PhD researcher will support consultancy projects. He/she may also be required to help with acquisition of research proposals, bridging science to practice by supporting consultancy projects and also supporting education with the Transition Academy.


Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)


Candidate Requirements

The successful applicant will have an excellent academic track record, a completed M.Sc., M.A. or equivalent university degree, and demonstrated capacity for interdisciplinary science research. We encourage candidates with a multi-disciplinary background in Sustainability Science, Innovation Studies, Environmental Governance, Policy Studies, Urban Planning and Environmental Sociology to apply. An affinity with sustainability transitions, transition management and transdisciplinary research, and experiences with conducting empirical research are highly desirable. Also competences and affinity to support consultancy projects are required.

The candidate should be proficient in English (both writing and speaking) on a C2 CEFR level (or equivalent). Candidates should be very proficient in Dutch (CEFR C1), as part of the PhD will be to engage in consultancy and training activities of DRIFT. During any stage in the selection process, DRIFT may choose to ask you take a language assessment.

The Supervisory Team
The research will be supervised by an experienced and collaborative team comprising:

·         dr. Gijs Diercks

·         prof. dr. Derk Loorbach


Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: one year, with conditions for extension to three further years depending on performance.

Conditions of employment

In accordance with our employment policies, you will be offered a temporary contract for one year, with conditions for extension to three further years depending on performance. You will be employed by the ESSB faculty of Erasmus University and placed on secondment to the DRIFT institute.

Salary is subject to salary grades P0 to P2 (currently € 2.395 to € 3.061 gross (bruto) amounts). On inception of the employment contract, you will be placed in salary grade P0 (€ 2.395) for a period of 12 months. Salary grades correspond to the Collective Labour Agreement of the Dutch universities (CAO), a 40 hour-work week, with a generous amount of leave days. In addition to the monthly salary, an end-of-year payment of 8,3% and a holiday allowance of 8% will be paid. We offer a dynamic and challenging environment and good working conditions as well as a flexible pension plan and various collective insurances. Employees can use the sport accommodation and the university library. The initial period is one year. At the end of the first year, performance will be evaluated, and if progress towards a PhD is satisfactory, the employment will be prolonged.


Dutch Research Institute for Transitions (DRIFT)


The Dutch Research Institute for Transitions is an action research institute located at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Founded in 2004, Drift evolved from a Dutch based research institute to an internationally oriented institute with worldwide networks, projects and contributions in the field of sustainability transitions. We are a young, ambitious and interdisciplinary group of researchers, trainers and consultants that combine academia with reflexive activism. Our backgrounds range from innovation studies and environmental science, to sociology, political science, policy analysis, geography, anthropology, engineering, history, as well as economics and philosophy. Drift aims to understand, facilitate and accelerate sustainability transitions, by putting scientific theory into practice and by implementing and developing innovative governance approaches, such as Transition Management. Next to (action) research, Drift advises governments and companies within the Netherlands, Europe and non-European countries. Furthermore, Drift is actively involved in education through multiple courses, coaching trajectories, workshops, in-company trainings and creative educational experiments.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • max. 40 hours per week
  • €2395—€3061 per month
  • University graduate
  • DRIFT 030820 PHD


Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)

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