PhD Position Prototypes for Socially Just Transitions in the Housing-Energy Nexus

PhD Position Prototypes for Socially Just Transitions in the Housing-Energy Nexus

Published Deadline Location
14 Nov 7 Jan Amsterdam

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Job description

PREFIGURE: addressing the housing / energy precarity nexus

We are looking for a PhD candidate to contribute to the research project PREFIGURE, which explores to what extend the demand for energy transition and the related social, political, economic and ecological practices, can address housing inequality and energy poverty.

Project Summary
: In this challenging social, political and economic context, PREFIGURE puts the spotlight on existing and emerging individual and collective efforts to actively produce alternative and innovative practices triggering a more just and sustainable housing security and energy transition. The project aims at identifying, tracing, analysing and networking emerging and active ‘prototypes of change’ with regard to the housing-energy efficiency/energy poverty nexus. Such ‘prototypes of change’ are an array of structured social, political and economic practices of innovation contributing to affordable housing renovation schemes, and solution concepts targeting housing inequalities favouring vulnerable households and communities.

: Access to affordable housing is a crucial challenge for many million tenants across Europe, affecting exceptionally women-led single-parent households, ethnic minorities, refugees, and other non-privileged groups with low income. The recent sharp increase in energy prices has consolidated existing social vulnerabilities. The result is that energy poverty and housing inequalities are mutually reinforcing each other. Furthermore, homeowners and professional housing companies are also facing substantial financial constraints because of the need to conduct fast, large-scale deep renovations of the existing housing stock to achieve higher energy efficiency, which has now a lower profitability and higher financing costs, due to increased interest rates.

The PhD candidate:
will be supervised by Prof. Maria Kaika & Dr. Mendel Giezen. The candidate will be embedded in the research group Urban Planning (UP) in the Department of Geography, Planning and International Development Studies (GPIO) at the University of Amsterdam. The PhD position is also embedded in the Amsterdam Institute of Social Science Research (AISSR), which hosts the PhD programme.

What will you do
As a PhD candidate, you will be an integral part of the PREFIGURE project. In PREFIGURE, the University of Amsterdam research team will take the lead in theorizing the housing/energy nexus and in developing a methodology to scrutinize active and emerging prototypes of change; these will be social, political and economic practices of innovation in delivering energy and housing that contribute to affordable housing renovation schemes and favour vulnerable households and communities. The project aims to provide in-depth understanding of these incentives, of what drives them of how and why they evolve and if and how they can be scaled up.

As a PhD candidate, you will help develop the theoretical and methodological framework. You will also apply it to two case studies (one in the Netherlands, the second to be defined). You will cooperate with the project’s international partners. You will conduct fieldwork, data collection and analysis in both case studies, using qualitative and quantitative research methods (e.g. a survey that will need to be developed and implemented by all partners collaboratively).

Together with prof. dr. Maria Kaika and dr. Mendel Giezen, you will participate in many international workshops and meetings organized by the project partners and will contribute to several of the work packages of the project.

This requires good language, communication and cooperation skills, a drive for learning and for developing new skills and a willingness to travel.

Your tasks
  • Write and complete a PhD dissertation within three and a half years maximum, which will include:
    • The development of an analytical framework for researching the project’s prototypes
    • Contribution to developing a conceptual framework on the housing/energy transition nexus
    • Conducting fieldwork and comparative research
    • Positioning your research within international academic and societal debates
    • Take the lead in authoring academic articles and project reports
  • Participate in the UvA's PhD training program;
  • Assist in the (under)graduate education programmes of our department (10% teaching);
  • Join the research group of UP which includes seminars and workshops;
  • Travel for fieldwork but also for international conferences, workshops, seminars and other scholarly activities.

What we are looking for
We are looking for a driven and enthusiastic candidate who has a passion for doing research and is keen on doing fieldwork and on working on issues within the nexus of Housing and Energy. The successful candidate should have:
  • a masters degree in geography, urban studies, political ecology, urban and regional planning, or another related field.
  • a particular interest in issues of political ecology and/or housing
  • an interest in conducting fieldwork and rigorous empirical research conduct.
  • some prior experience in primary data collection and analysis (e.g. masters degree with a research-based dissertation element).
  • an interest in conceptual work
  • good writing skills in English.
  • Ability to adjust to different and unexpected conditions, work across disciplinary boundaries, and find creative solutions to emerging research problems.


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


Candidates should hold a (Research) Masters degree in geography, urban studies, political ecology, urban and regional planning, or another related field. Preference will be given to participants with proven track record of ability to conduct rigorous and independent primary research and to (single)author academic work.

We are looking for candidates who:
  • Are passionate about and have demonstrated aptitude for conducting research and academic writing;
  • Have demonstrated experience doing fieldwork in unfamiliar settings;
  • Have demonstrated experience with qualitative methods, and mixed methods;
  • Have very good academic writing skills
  • Are able to develop critical and complex arguments;
  • Are team players, but are also able to work independently.
  • Have excellent command of the English language in both communicating and writing
  • Knowledge of the Dutch language (written and oral) is desirable but not necessary

Conditions of employment

The position offers a temporary employment contract of 38 hours for a maximum term of 3,5 years. The initial employment is for one year. If there is a positive assessment after these first 12 months ( and barring altered circumstances), the employment contract will be extended for a further period of maximum 30 months, giving the candidate a total of 3,5 years to complete a PhD.

The UvA offers excellent possibilities for professional development and education. You will be given the opportunity to attend training courses and to present your work and the work of the research team at national and international events. You will also have the opportunity to develop experience in teaching at Bachelor's level. For this position, the University Job Classification profile 'Promovendus’ applies. Your salary will be €2,770 gross per month in the first year and will increase to €3,539 in the final year, based on full-time employment and in keeping with the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities. We additionally offer an extensive package of secondary benefits, including 8% holiday allowance and a year-end bonus of 8.3%.

What else do we offer
  • A position in which initiative and input are highly valued;
  • A strong supervision team with whom you will collaborate in research and publications;
  • A leading research group (Urban Planning Geography and International Development) that is international and open to new colleagues;
  • An international research network ;
  • Resources for fieldwork abroad;
  • An inspiring academic and international working environment at the heart of Amsterdam.


Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

The University of Amsterdam is the largest university in the Netherlands, with the broadest spectrum of degree programmes. It is an intellectual hub with 39,000 students, 6,000 employees and 3,000 doctoral students who are all committed to a culture of inquiring minds.

The Department of Geography, Planning and International Development Studies is one of the six Departments in the FMG. Research and education are carried out by special institutes. The Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR) is responsible for research in the social sciences. The College of Social Sciences (CSS) and the Graduate School of Social Sciences (GSSS) are responsible for undergraduate and graduate teaching programmes in the social sciences.

Research and teaching in the Department of Geography, Planning and International Development Studies is organized in five thematic programme groups: Governance and Inclusive Development (GID), Urban Geographies (UG) and Urban Planning (UP), Political and Economic Geographies (PEG) and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences (ISW).

About the faculty

A challenging work environment with a variety of duties and ample scope for individual initiative and development within an inspiring organization. The social and behavioral sciences play a leading role in addressing the major societal challenges faced by the world, the Netherlands and Amsterdam, now and in the future.

Want to know more about our organization? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • 12349


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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