PhD Position on Inclusive Mobile Ageing

PhD Position on Inclusive Mobile Ageing

Published Deadline Location
10 Jan 15 Feb Utrecht

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We are looking for a PhD candidate for a project on ‘Inclusive Mobile Ageing’. Interested? Apply now!

Job description

We are looking for a PhD candidate who will critically examine older adults’ perspectives on and experiences with new digital mobility technologies. More specifically: How do older adults experience mobility technology across different transport modes, and what does it mean for their social inclusion and well-being? And, in what ways are mobility technologies adopted, used or non-used amongst older adults, and which processes lead towards adoption or non-adoption?

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The project is funded by an Utrecht University Stimulous Grant titled 'Inclusive Mobile Ageing' led by Dr Dea van Lierop. The PhD will be embedded into the Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning and will formally collaborate with The Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development.

Revolutionary technological innovations in mobility, like on-demand services (e.g. ride-sharing and hailing services like Uber and Lyft), micro e-mobility (e.g. shared electric bicycles or scooters), and even automated vehicles, are increasingly seen on city streets worldwide. Additionally, access to traditional transportation modes like public transport, specialised transport and taxi services is also increasingly digitalised, for instance, through digital ticketing and scheduling. These many forms of traditional and new mobility require individuals to interact with transportation modes via digital devices. This excludes people who are less digitally skilled and/or are physically constrained.

Inequalities in mobility and accessibility impact social inclusion, access to opportunities (e.g. healthcare destinations) and overall well-being, which affect how older adults age-in-place. Accordingly, the PhD research aims to critically examine older adults’ perspectives on and experiences with new mobility technologies and how this affects implementation and further development.

This PhD project:
  • investigates how older adults experience digital mobility technologies across different transport modes, and what it means for their social inclusion and well-being; and
  • assesses in which ways mobility technologies are adopted, used or non-used amongst older adults, and which processes lead towards adoption or non-adoption.

Comparative research will be conducted in Dutch areas with rapidly ageing populations, comparing suburban and rural regions to high-density urban areas. This PhD project uses a mixed-method approach including quantitative spatial mapping analysis with qualitative focus groups, semi-structured interviews with guided photo-voice enabling ethnographic observations about individuals’ daily travel habits, and co-creation workshops. We will investigate studying how values (like inclusiveness, autonomy, agency) of different stakeholders like citizens, policymakers and mobility providers, interact and play a role in mobility. Candidates with an interest in mobility and ageing and a specialisation in any of the mentioned methods are encouraged to apply for this PhD position.

As the PhD candidate, you will systematically document and analyse the mobility habits and norms of older adults. Tasks as part of the PhD will be analysing national transport and population data to understand mobility patterns of older adults as well as for case study selection. In a next stage, the PhD will develop and lead semi-structured interviews with guided photo-voice as well as focus groups. Lastly, stakeholder outreach will be conducted for co-creation workshops. In addition to research (90%), you will also be involved in teaching and educational activities within the Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning (10%).


Utrecht University


We are looking for an enthusiastic, motivated team member who brings multiple of the following qualifications:
  • You have a Master degree in Human Geography, Urban Planning, Transportation Planning, Social Science, Public Health, Science and Technology Studies, International Development Studies, Sustainable Development, Innovation Studies, or a related field with a clear affinity for mobility research.
  • You have experience and/or a strong interest in a combination of mobility and transportation research, accessibility research and the social aspects of digital, smart technologies.
  • You are interested in engaging with older adults in interview settings.
  • You are interested in using qualitative methods in research; particularly interviews, focus groups and co-creation workshops and you have experience coding in Nvivo or Atlas.ti (or a similar software or you are willing to get acquainted with these).
  • You are comfortable mapping data using GIS, and are familiar with basic statistics and able to use R, SPSS or a similar software.
  • You are fluent in Dutch (because of the interviews and focus groups) and have excellent academic writing skills in English.
  • You are intellectually curious, flexible, pro-active and quality conscious, have planning and time management skills, a collaborative attitude and good communication and social skills.
  • You enjoy working in an interdisciplinary team and with stakeholders, and can showcase a proactive attitude and organisational skills in these settings.
  • You are excited to contribute to teaching tasks withing the Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning.

Conditions of employment

We offer:
  • a position for one year, with an extension to a total of four years upon successful assessment and with the specific intent that it results in a doctorate within this period;
  • a full-time gross salary between €2,770 in the first year and €3,539 in the fourth year of employment in scale P of the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities;
  • 8% holiday bonus and 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave, and flexible employment conditions based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities.

In addition to the employment conditions from the CAO for Dutch Universities, Utrecht University has a number of its own arrangements. These include agreements on professional development, leave arrangements, sports and cultural schemes and you get discounts on software and other IT products. We also give you the opportunity to expand your terms of employment through the Employment Conditions Selection Model. This is how we encourage you to grow. For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University.


Universiteit Utrecht

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major strategic themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Pathways to Sustainability. Shaping science, sharing tomorrow.

Utrecht University’s Faculty of Geosciences studies the Earth: from the Earth’s core to its surface, including man’s spatial and material utilisation of the Earth – always with a focus on sustainability and innovation. With 3,400 students (BSc and MSc) and 720 staff, the faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The Faculty of Geosciences is organised in four Departments: Earth Sciences, Human Geography & Spatial Planning, Physical Geography, and Sustainable Development.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • 36—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 3495



Princetonlaan 8a, 3584CB, Utrecht

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