PhD Candidate: Realising a just and effective energy transition in challenged neighbourhoods

PhD Candidate: Realising a just and effective energy transition in challenged neighbourhoods

Published Deadline Location
7 Jul 7 Aug Nijmegen

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Job description

Are you an aspiring researcher looking for a new opportunity in the field of sustainability and energy transitions? Would you like to join a friendly and open environment where you can develop your skills and learn new things? Then you could play a part as a PhD candidate. Adopting a social science perspective, you will investigate the technical and societal dimensions of a just and effective energy transition. 
In light of climate change, environmental care and the autonomy of our energy provision, the Dutch government stimulates a decentralised renewable energy system in which residents and neighbourhoods play an important role. However, while energy prices are rising, some people are worried about what the future may bring, for they are already struggling to pay their energy bills right now. Shaping an effective and just energy transition is easier said than done. As residents are crucial in planning and co-creation of housing renovation in their neighbourhood, such transformations are in need of knowledge about the in-house energy practices of residents, both now and in the future.

JUST PREPARE is a four-year research project funded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO-KIC). It is about involving residents in tailoring in-home systems and renovation in the built environment to their practices and needs. Realising better energy performances and improving energy systems is particularly urgent in the housing stock in challenged neighbourhoods, in which technological interventions coincide with social issues such as inequalities, poverty, low trust in institutions, criminality and unemployment.

The JUST PREPARE project is based on co-creation of approaches and solutions for the energy transition with a forward looking dimension. You will work together with municipalities, housing corporations, residents and other relevant actors. You will contribute to developing the necessary methodological and substantive knowledge on energy practices and collaboration in challenged neighbourhoods. This is done with four living labs in different municipalities (the cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Nijmegen and the village of Gemert-Bakel). Your research will mainly focus on Nijmegen and Gemert-Bakel. The emphasis is on challenged households (sometimes labelled as underprivileged neighbourhoods), which are suffering from high energy prices, problematic access to solutions and lower degrees of involvement. This might lead to uneven distribution of costs and benefits and makes these households extra vulnerable in the process of the energy transition, while these households often experience a lack of agency regarding their own life and their lived environment.

In your part of the project you will be using ethnographic methods to explore and analyse the needs and in-house social practices of residents (e.g. in cooking, laundering, keeping warm, keeping cool) in challenged neighbourhoods. This information of daily social practices which will be translated to practice-based design of in- house energy infrastructure and tools.

Your research project includes the mapping of in-house energy practices and their expected future trajectories, and the development of effective methods for exploring needs and social practices in close collaboration with the residents. This knowledge ‘from the inside out’ will be used to inform researchers from Industrial Design and the Built Environment (technical universities) to redesign energy infrastructures and tools (e.g. effective and just energy interfaces). At a later stage, knowledge from these in-house practices of residents is brought together with knowledge from other work packages in JUST-PREPARE dedicated to methods of involving residents in designing renovation strategies at the building and neighbourhood level (‘from the outside in’). Joint information on in-house energy practices and their infrastructures and residents involvements in neighbourhoods is integrated with a justice and future-oriented perspective, creating a basis of municipalities to reflect on shared and opposing assumptions about the future and justice of residents, energy and retrofit installation companies and policy makers. Finally, you will be investigating the role and use of policy instruments that trigger residents to change social practices (or not) by selecting actors engaged in policy making, implementation, technology installation, and design, and residents by way of interviews and facilitating focus groups.

Your teaching load may be up to 10% of your appointment.


Radboud University


  • You have a Master's degree in a relevant social scientific field, e.g. Environmental Social Science, Sociology, Political Sciences, Public Administration, Geography or Spatial Planning.
  • You have affinity with sociological research on social practices and are interested in the governance of social practices.
  • You have experience in areas such as energy transition, sustainability, governance and justice issues, challenged and/or unprivileged neighbourhoods, evidenced by previous course work or papers.
  • Affinity with futures studies or anticipation research is an advantage.
  • You have knowledge of and experience with qualitative research methods, especially research methods related to ethnography, participatory research, action research or focus groups.
  • You are willing to teach Bachelor’s degree courses in Geography, Planning and Environment.
  • You have an interest in interdisciplinary research and an ability to work in teams.
  • You have proven academic writing skills and an excellent command of written and spoken Dutch and English.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: You will be employed for an initial period of 18 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 2.5 years (4 year contract).

  • Employment for 1.0 FTE.
  • The gross starting salary amounts to €2,443 per month based on a 38-hour working week, and will increase to €3,122 in the fourth year (salary scale P).
  • You will receive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus.
  • You will be employed for an initial period of 18 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 2.5 years (4 year contract).
  • You will be able to use our Dual Career and Family Care Services. Our Dual Career and Family Care Officer can assist you with family-related support, help your partner or spouse prepare for the local labour market, provide customized support in their search for employment and help your family settle in Nijmegen.
  • Working for us means getting extra days off. In case of full-time employment, you can choose between 29 or 41 days of annual leave instead of the legally allotted 20.
Work and science require good employment practices. This is reflected in Radboud University's primary and secondary employment conditions. You can make arrangements for the best possible work-life balance with flexible working hours, various leave arrangements and working from home. You are also able to compose part of your employment conditions yourself, for example, exchange income for extra leave days and receive a reimbursement for your sports subscription. And of course, we offer a good pension plan. You are given plenty of room and responsibility to develop your talents and realise your ambitions. Therefore, we provide various training and development schemes.


You will join the Environmental Governance and Politics (EGP) Chair group at the Nijmegen School of Management. The chair group is a social scientific team of researchers that aim to critically reflect on and contribute to sustainability transformations. The group develops useful insights into the why and how of such processes, which can serve to enable, accelerate, deepen and broaden the transformation towards a global sustainable society. To this end, they often engage in research, teaching and collaboration with societal partners. EGP is specialised in the relations between agriculture, animal, biodiversity, circular economy, climate change, energy, and freshwater governance. Theoretically, we mainly use discursive, institutional, and practice-based perspectives. The Nijmegen School of Management enables students, institutions and companies, societal actors and governments to play their part in a transformation towards sustainable societies. In doing so, the faculty is committed to Radboud University’s mission of contributing to a healthy, free world with equal opportunities for all. In the context of our mission 'Responsible governance for sustainable societies', we address scientific and societal challenges from a good governance perspective. Our work focuses on the topics Beyond Economy, Climate, Inclusivity, Safety, and Democracy. By building, questioning and extending the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), we acknowledge their interrelatedness and focus on a number of grand challenges within society. At Nijmegen School of Management, academic research and teaching are carried out in challenging educational programmes. These programmes are offered in the areas of Business Administration, Economics and Business Economics, Geography, Planning and Environment, Political Science and Public Administration. Academic research takes place within the Institute for Management Research (IMR). The Nijmegen School of Management currently has some 5,000 students and 350 FTE staff.

Radboud University
We want to get the best out of science, others and ourselves. Why? Because this is what the world around us desperately needs. Leading research and education make an indispensable contribution to a healthy, free world with equal opportunities for all. This is what unites the more than 24,000 students and 5,600 employees at Radboud University. And this requires even more talent, collaboration and lifelong learning. You have a part to play!


  • PhD
  • Economics
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • 1193498



Houtlaan 4, 6525 XZ, Nijmegen

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