PhD Candidate in STS, ageing and digitalisation

PhD Candidate in STS, ageing and digitalisation

Published Deadline Location
12 Jan 28 Feb Heerlen

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Job description

The PhD postion is part of the international doctoral network HOMeAGE that involves a nine-country collaboration between leading research units, major intergovernmental organisations, international civil society actors and governmental and non-governmental organisations. HOMeAGE aims to institute an interdisciplinary, intersectoral, and international programme of doctoral training and research that drives the development of new leaders in excellence for the advancement of evidence-based innovation on ageing in place. HOMeAGE will address the three interconnected challenges of (1) needs and systems, (2) home and belonging and (3) rights and voice. The 12 Doctoral Researchers will be hosted across the network, and in addition to conducting an original research study they will participate in a 36-month network-wide training program, public engagement activities and collaboration with network members through short-term secondments in European intersectoral partner organisations.  

As part of the Challenge 3 – Rights and Voice of the HOMeAGE network, the successful applicant will investigate the increasing entanglement of ageing in place policies with the promises and practices of digital technologies, in particular those that rely on algorithms and data infrastructures (Artificial Intelligence). Your research will (1) critically interrogate the actual/symbolic representations of ageing that come to prevail in the development and implementation of such digital technologies; (2) study the processes through which these representations come into being (for instance, in pilot project/homes/neighbourhoods or the creation of data bases and ground truths); (3) explore alternative practices that are more responsible and reflect ageing diversity. The policy component will translate results into recommendations for ageing in place technology policies. A policy brief on innovation practices for ageing in place, and a brief on design recommendations will be produced.

Secondment(s):  As part of the PhD project, the successful applicant will undertake two secondments of 4 months duration each:  Secondment 1 with Prof. Anu Siren (Tampere University, Finland) will focus on symbolic exclusion theory and technology as a mediator of exclusion. Secondment 2 with Dr. H.H. Nap (Vilans, The Netherlands) will provide learning on policy processes and formulating stakeholder advice.


The Open Universiteit (OU)


All applicants must fulfil the following general eligibility criteria for the HOMeAGE doctoral network, or otherwise will be rejected:

  • must have completed a Master's degree or equivalent at the time of start (Sept 2023).
  • must not have a doctoral degree at the date of their recruitment;
  • should comply with the mobility rules, where they must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of the recruiting organisation for more than 12 months, at any point during the 36 months immediately before their
  • recruitment date (short stays such as holidays or compulsory military service are not taken into account);

Specific requirements for this PhD position: Highly motivated, independent and enthusiastic doctoral researcher with relevant Master's degree in the social sciences or humanities (ideally in Science and Technology Studies with a profile in ageing and/or health technology, or in ageing studies/social gerontology with a focus on digital technology), excellent track record of academic achievement and a strong interest in conducting original research on place and digital technologies in later life. Experience of working in transdisciplinary contexts involving social scientists and engineers/designers as well as (in)formal care givers and older people, and an affinity with policy making processes, is desirable.

Desired skills for this position:  The ideal candidate thrives in international and transdisciplinary environments, can communicate effectively with various stakeholders and has sharp analytical skills. Specifically, the position requires:

  • expertise and skills in qualitative, empirical research; experience with ethnographic field work is desirable;
  • an affinity with the human aspects of digital technologies related to ageing and/or ageing in place;
  • excellent written and oral communication skills in English; written and oral skills in Dutch are not a requirement, but we expect the candidate to acquire a good command of the Dutch language within 1.5 years.
  • the ability to work in a self-propelled manner in interdisciplinary teams

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: temporary position for 4 years within the context of the doctoral network HOMeAGE.

The PhD candidate will be appointed for a period of 12 months. The appointment will be extended to 48 months after a successful assessment in the first year. The salary is € 2.541,= gross per month in the first year and is expected to increase to € 3.247,= in the fourth year, for a full time appointment, contingent on satisfactory performance.

The OU offers good secondary and flexible employment conditions in areas such as training and mobility, working part-time, hybrid working, and paid parental leave.

In good consultation, you are expected to be present in Heerlen on a regular basis (in the case of a full-time appointment 2 days a week).


The Open Universiteit

Flexible studying anywhere in the Netherlands and (Belgium) Flanders
At the Open Universiteit (OU) in the Netherlands, students follow personalised and activating academic distance education and disciplinary research is carried out within the various fields of science. Students can complete bachelor and master programmes in seven fields of study. The characteristics of education are openness, flexibility and quality (see Much attention is paid to improving the study success of students. The OU has over 18,000 students and more than 750 employees. The OU has branches in the Netherlands and Belgium (see The main office is located in Heerlen, the Netherlands.

The latest technologies and educational insights are applied both in the bachelor's and master's programmes and courses and in projects and programmes with partners. Nationally and internationally, the OU plays an important role in the innovation of higher education. Education is interwoven with research, which also ensures that the current state of science is incorporated. The OU invests not only in disciplinary research in eight scientific fields, but also in research in a multidisciplinary programme: Innovating for resilience.


The Faculty of Humanities

The Faculty of Humanities focuses on the cultural dimension of grand societal challenges of our time, such as those relating to technological innovation and digitalisation, identity, globalisation, urbanisation, climate and sustainability and (mental) health. The Faculty has more than 2500 students and 50 staff members. Based on their cultural-scientific view of these themes, they seek collaboration with partners within and outside the higher education sector. The Faculty is at the beginning of a re-profiling process called Connected Humanities 2020-2025 (Cultuurwetenschappen in verbinding), which aims to seize opportunities that exist for a non-traditional form of humanities, tackling issues outside its traditional domain, consisting of history, art, philosophy and culture. As such, Connected Humanities seeks collaboration across the borders of the Humanities and the Social Sciences.

More information about the Open University and the Faculty of Humanities can be found on our website



  • PhD
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • AC/CW/23005


The Open Universiteit (OU)

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Postbus 2960, 6401 DL, Heerlen

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