Assistant Professor Transdisciplinarity for Transformation

Assistant Professor Transdisciplinarity for Transformation

Published Deadline Location
31 Oct 22 Nov Amsterdam

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0.8 - 1 FTE

Job description

The recent pandemic and the undeniable manifestation of climate change make it increasingly evident that our conventional ways of governing and innovating are not well-geared to adequately respond to the urgent sustainability and health challenges we face today; our institutionalized ways of working and thinking often prevent the required transformations rather than fostering them.

Climate change, biodiversity loss and related socio-economic and public health challenges come with a need for institutional innovation. These innovations must include a strengthening of the transformative potential of our governance arrangements. Such innovations yet will be constantly contested by institutionalized ways of working and thinking. This requires a research agenda that focusses on institutionalizing reflexivity and (un)learning-in-action amidst paradoxes in public governance.

At the Athena Institute of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam we invite applications for a full-time appointment as assistant professor in Transdisciplinarity for Transformation. Your research will focus on addressing sustainability challenges in balancing social (including health), economic and environmental objectives. Institutional innovation in view of sustainability transitions, including innovation of governing systems, requires inclusive and reflexive (research) practices. To ensure that issue-articulation and the exploration of solutions are developed in collaboration with a wide range of actors/stakeholders, you will conduct research that is primarily transdisciplinary in nature. Research activities will range from reflexive evaluations of climate change policy to developing RRI approaches to innovations in the life sciences. We particularly invite applicants with affinity with climate change policy.

Your duties
The tenure track position starting at the level of assistant professor (research, education, management; 40:40:20%) and is located at the Athena Institute.
Research tasks include, but are not limited to, contributing to research acquisition in this area, further conceptualising this area of research from multiple theoretical perspectives, co-designing and implementing innovations in collaboration with stakeholders from the quadruple helix, and facilitating mutual learning and reflection sessions.
Teaching tasks are embedded in the wide variety of courses offered by the Athena Institute and include course coordination, workgroup coaching and lecturing as well as supervising Master students during their internships and literature reviews on diverse topics pertaining to the wider educational programme of the Athena Institute. In addition, you are expected to fulfil more overarching tasks with respect to curriculum development and quality control.
With respect to management you will supervise several PhD students, junior researchers/lecturers and postdoc researchers and participate in coordination and strategic meetings of the Athena Institute (and beyond).
You are expected to collaborate with different colleagues in projects across a range of research themes.


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)


  • A PhD in transition studies, social science, science, technology & society studies, participatory design, innovation studies, philosophy, political science, or a related (inter)discipline; an additional background in the life sciences is a plus;
  • Proven experience with experimental methods for the transdisciplinary study of challenges in the field of sustainability transitions;
  • Experience with designing and facilitating multistakeholder group discussions and reflection sessions as part of change processes.
  • Familiarity with research approaches such as STS Making & Doing; Responsible Research and Innovation; and Reflexive Monitoring in Action;
  • Preferably have domain-knowledge and relevant connections in the Athena domains of ‘food, environment & sustainability’ and ‘(global) health & well-being’;
  • Proven ability to be a strong collaborator within interdisciplinary teams (capable of listening, flexible, adaptive, pro-active);
  • Strong and relevant publication track-record, commensurate with the candidate’s career stage and complementing and extending the Athena Institute’s research portfolio;
  • Experience with applying for research grants and externally funded projects;
  • Excellent teaching skills and the ability to inspire students (demonstrated through a.o. positive student evaluations);
  • A teaching qualification (in Dutch BKO), or the willingness to obtain one;
  • An (inter)national network relevant to the position;
  • Excellent command of both Dutch and English is imperative.

Conditions of employment

A challenging career track position from Assistant Professor 2 to Assistant Professor 1 in a socially involved organization. On full-time basis the remuneration amounts to a minimum gross monthly salary of €4,332 (scale 11) and a maximum €5,929 (scale 11), depending on your education and experience. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 0.8 FTE.

The initial contract will have a duration of 18 months. After a successful evaluation in your 15th month, permanent employment will be granted.
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment;
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • solid pension scheme (ABP);
  • possibility to save holiday hours, for sabbatical leave;
  • and child daycare facilities available on campus.


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 31,000 students. We employ over 5,000 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science
Working at the Faculty of Science means working together with students, PhD candidates and scientists who are focused on their discipline, yet also have a broad view of the world. We are proud of the collegial working environment within the faculty, which is characterised by an ambitious and pragmatic attitude with commitment to the bigger picture. At the Faculty of Science, scientists and students work on fundamental and complex social issues for a sustainable and healthy future. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to malnutrition, from genetics to pharmaceuticals and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research cover the full breadth of the natural sciences. Scientific teaching and research is highly experimental, technical, computational and interdisciplinary in nature. This is why we collaborate extensively with leading research institutes and industry. The faculty has over 11,000 students studying across 40 educational programmes and employs over 1,600 staff spread over 10 scientific departments, making us the largest science faculty in the Netherlands.

Athena Institute
The position is offered within the Athena Institute, Faculty of Science. The institute’s mission is to study and design interfaces between science and society to contribute both to a deeper understanding of innovation processes as well as a responsible implementation of research and innovation in society. Athena’s research program amongst other focuses on analyzing complex global health challenges, designing interventions and conducting participatory monitoring and evaluation research. For more information about the Athena Institute visit our website.


  • Assistant professor
  • Behaviour and society
  • 30.4—38 hours per week
  • €4332—€5929 per month
  • Doctorate
  • 16447


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)

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De Boelelaan 1105, 1081HV, Amsterdam

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