PhD Candidate “Socio-technical decision making in building resilient housing and settlements”

PhD Candidate “Socio-technical decision making in building resilient housing and settlements”

Published Deadline Location
21 Feb 29 Mar Enschede

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Job description

Are you thrilled to find out what, where, and when assistance is effective to enhance disaster resilience of the built environment in the global south? Are you willing to explore decision making processes related to disaster-resilient housing and settlements in the global south?

Then join our team to explore what makes a difference! This project answers the call for more evidence about reconstruction decisions of vulnerable groups and the wider impact of housing assistance on people’s lives.

In this project, you will provide evidence to understand why decisions and assistance do not always result in safer houses and settlements. Currently, reconstruction efforts are often hampered by factors such as resources and access to technical knowledge. Governmental or humanitarian support is often insufficiently personalized to needs of households. Your project will seek to understand generic and individual systems of decision-making. Your investigation of decision-making should inform effective humanitarian and governmental assistance to build resilience with respect for local knowledge and construction practices.

Your research methodology will preferably be innovative and transdisciplinary to be able to consider the social, technical, and political dimensions that accompany the issues related to housing and post-disaster settlement reconstruction. The research methodology could include mixed-method data collection considering both qualitative and quantitative approaches such as serious games, participatory methods, stakeholder engagement, citizen science, household surveys, key stakeholder interviews, focus group discussions, stakeholder mapping, or geospatial and participatory hazard mapping. Secondary data from global or national repositories can be combined with the collected data. Data could be analyzed by for exploring linkages between factors developing through advanced statistical analysis. Your method will be tested and improved empirically in close collaboration with local partners. We believe it is beneficial for the success of the PhD project if you have a close understanding of the culture and language of the study area and a network with governmental and humanitarian actors that assist in the reconstruction process. Therefore, we have not predefined the case study area. However, you need to select two case studies of areas affected by multiple hazards (floods, hurricanes, or earthquakes).

You will be trained to produce high-quality in peer-reviewed journals. You will be guided to create active outreach throughout your research process on social media and other outlets. It is expected that PhD candidates spend about 20% of their time engaging with teaching or department duties (this can also include advising MSc students). The PhD candidate will elaborate a research proposal that will be evaluated 6 to 9 months after the start by a Qualifier committee. The PhD project will be closely related to the research work of the main supervisor Dr Eefje Hendriks.


University of Twente (UT)


  • An MSc in disaster or crisis management, communication science, architecture and planning, behavioural science, human geography, sociology, psychology, environmental science, or related fields but with a social science orientation, or a related field preferably obtained no longer than 5 years ago.
  • Curiosity on academic writing, and proficiency in written and spoken English and language skills suitable for the case study area.
  • Good communication skills.
  • Knowledge of concepts such as societal transformation, disaster resilience and (re)construction relevant to the research outlined.
  • Affinity for using innovative mixed-methods research, preferably with experience in qualitative and quantitative research methods.
  • A team-oriented mentality, and ability to collaborate with others in field research and high-quality publications.
  • Proactive, hands-on, and self-driven attitude, taking ownership of research and seeing it to completion.
  • A team-oriented mentality, proactive, hands-on, and self-driven, taking ownership of research and seeing it to completion, including high-quality publications in collaboration with others.
  • Availability for periods of research abroad

Conditions of employment

  • An inspiring multidisciplinary, international, and academic environment. The university offers a dynamic ecosystem with enthusiastic colleagues in which internationalization is an important part of the strategic agenda.
  • Full-time position for 4 years
  • A professional and personal development programme within Twente Graduate School
  • Gross monthly salary of € 2,770.- in the first year that increases to € 3,539.- in the fourth year
  • A holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.3 and a %
  • Excellent support for research and facilities for professional and personal development
  • A solid pension scheme.
  • A total of 41 holiday days per year in case of full-time employment
  • Excellent working conditions, an exciting scientific environment, and a green and lively campus.
  • A professional and personal training programme as part of the Twente Graduate School where you and your supervisors will determine a plan for a suitable education and supervision.
  • Costs for moving to Enschede may be reimbursed.


The department of Applied Earth Sciences (AES) aims to prevent future human suffering using the most advanced geospatial modelling techniques and earth observation tools in collaboration with stakeholders in areas at risk to build resilience to natural hazards. We combine our efforts to study hazards, vulnerability, and coping mechanisms and develop strategies to reduce risk and increase resilience in long-term planning in a holistic manner, for early warning and disaster response, and in the context of post-disaster recovery and reconstruction. The key focus of the work is on developments in the global south and is highly related to global challenges as described in the SDGs.

The Build Back Safer Lab of Dr Eefje Hendriks hosts this position. Our collaborative research draws on concepts of disaster resilience, knowledge adoption, technical innovation, and sustainable transformation. This broad thematic scope enables the analysis of synergies and trade-offs between livelihood objectives and safety and resilience objectives. The lab is involved in teaching at the graduate level and your involvement is welcomed in the Humanitarian Engineering Master program and/or Spatial Engineering.

You will be part of the department’s group for Disaster Resilience and linked to an NWO Veni project “enabling vulnerable communities to build back safer”. In our group, we integrate diverse disciplines to provide a comprehensive understanding of decision-making in past, present and future hazards-affected areas, with a vulnerable built environment. The overarching goal of the Veni project to which this position is linked is to assess the multiple tangible and intangible benefits that people attribute to hazard-resistant restoration and that inform their actions.


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • max. 40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 1674


University of Twente (UT)

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Drienerlolaan 5, 7522NB, Enschede

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