PhD Candidate: Putting Transformative Theories of Education for Sustainability into Academic Practice

PhD Candidate: Putting Transformative Theories of Education for Sustainability into Academic Practice

Published Deadline Location
31 Mar 23 Apr Nijmegen

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Job description

Are you interested in how higher education institutes (HEIs) can create an environment that promotes student well-being and learning? Are you interested in how university programmes can play their part in current planetary crises through education for sustainability? We have an opening for a PhD candidate devoted to transcending the disciplinary boundaries between transformative learning theories, the philosophy of social sciences and education for sustainability. Are you ready to play your part?

For decades, debates have stressed the various crises HEIs are currently facing. On the one hand, student well-being has come under pressure, as recent reports show that many students experience stress, academic pressure, and little attention for personal development. On the other, there is a vast discrepancy between knowledge building and building of wisdom or action, the so-called knowledge-action gap, particularly in the field of sustainability. While transformative education approaches have been designed to meet these challenges, they are often implemented outside of the regular programmes of HEIs and based on project funding, limiting their long-lasting potential.

This PhD project focuses on the design, implementation and impact on students of transformative education practices for sustainability at HEIs. In these practices, learning is conceptualised as action, taking place in context, and conducted together. In this project you will conceptualise and co-create learning environments by putting transformative theories of education for sustainability into regular academic practice. You will use both quantitative and qualitative methods. A more elaborate description of this project can be requested from Petrie or Saskia (see contact details below).

You will be employed at the Behavioural Science Institute (BSI), embedded in the Learning & Plasticity research programme. As a PhD candidate, you will work together with four researchers who have diverse disciplinary backgrounds (sustainability pedagogy, philosophy of behavioural sciences, student success and diversity in higher education, educational sciences). You will be asked to bridge these paradigms and you will have ample opportunity to further design your own PhD project.

As a PhD candidate, you will initiate, develop and execute several studies. You will write a PhD thesis to complete your project. You will participate in supervision meetings as well as staff meetings of the Learning & Plasticity department and other relevant research meetings. As part of the BSI Graduate School PhD programme, you will be expected to complete several courses related to the basic professional skills of scientific researchers such as presentation skills, scientific integrity, and data management. We will also encourage you to attend and present your work at relevant workshops and conferences. As part of your PhD position, you will have a 10% teaching load and the opportunity to work towards a university teaching qualification.


Radboud University


  • You hold a Master's or Research Master's degree in behavioural science, educational sciences, pedagogical sciences, philosophy of behavioural sciences, biology, or a related field.
  • You are able to critically reflect on theories in the field of social sciences and you are strong in conceptualisation.
  • You have an affinity for various research methods.
  • You have an affinity for interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary problems/work.
  • You are familiar with or would like to become familiar with research in higher education, transformative education and education for sustainability, student well-being and diversity.
  • You are a team player with good social skills, but are also able to work independently and proactively.
  • You have excellent written and spoken English language skills (required for scientific publishing).

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 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) or 3.5 years (5 year contract).

  • It concerns an employment for 0.8 (5 year contract) - 1.0 FTE (4 year contract).
  • The gross starting salary amounts to €2,541 per month based on a 38-hour working week, and will increase to €3,247 from the fourth year onwards (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) or 3.5 years (5 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 30 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 Learning and Plasticity group. The Learning and Plasticity group conducts fundamental and applied research on individual differences in the learning and development of children, teenagers and adolescents. 

Individual differences lie at the heart of our research. We study variations between and within homogeneous age samples in order to describe, predict and explain how people learn and develop. We focus on both typically developing groups and samples with an atypical development in one or more areas (e.g. attention deficits, visual impairment, coordination disorder, giftedness).

Our research relates individual differences in learning and development to characteristics of the individual, the knowledge and skills they have to acquire and the context in which their learning and development takes place.

The outer ring of the doughnut chart represents the main application areas of our research. Each area comes with specific themes, which are prompted by either academic or societal relevance and shape the research questions we seek to answer. Examples include differentiated forms of teaching, learning, treatment and intervention, adaptive and dynamic assessments, and policy measures regarding equal opportunities and inclusive education.

The Learning and Plasticity group is part of the Behavioural Science Institute (BSI). BSI is a multidisciplinary research institute and one of three research institutes in the Faculty of Social Sciences at Radboud University.

Our researchers collaborate across the boundaries of psychology, educational science, and communication science. Our mission is to strengthen people through understanding the foundations of human behaviour, by creating synergy between different paradigms and by facilitating craftsmanship, curiosity and connection in academic research. BSI has seven research programmes covering three major research themes, namely human development, connection and health. BSI conducts fundamental as well as applied/translational research and has excellent facilities and support for lab and field research. Moreover, BSI is known for its successful graduate school and strong commitment to open science.

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
  • Behaviour and society
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • 1208059



Houtlaan 4, 6525 XZ, Nijmegen

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