PhD Project "Empowering Adolescents: Building Resilience Against Planetary Health Misinformation"

PhD Project "Empowering Adolescents: Building Resilience Against Planetary Health Misinformation"

Published Deadline Location
15 May 5 Jun Amsterdam

Job description

Are you intrigued by adolescents’ susceptibility to planetary health misinformation, including issues like climate change, biodiversity loss, plastic pollution, and other environmental concerns impacting our planet's health? Are you curious about exploring which groups of adolescents are particularly vulnerable to consuming and unintentionally sharing misinformation? Would you like to delve deeper into how we can empower adolescents through targeted interventions? Then apply for this PhD project!

We are looking for an ambitious PhD Researcher for the four-year project “Empowering Adolescents: Building Resilience Against Planetary Health Misinformation”. The PhD Candidate is embedded in the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) and is part of the Persuasive Communication Program Group.

What are you going to do?
Misinformation and disinformation are widely seen as big societal threats, both in the Netherlands and beyond. These threats call for more research and for new solutions to make citizens and societal groups more resilient against mis- and disinformation. This is why the Department of Communication Science at the University of Amsterdam has launched a new initiative focusing on the causes, content, consequences, and counterstrategies against mis- and disinformation in our digital society.

This PhD project is part of this initiative and will specifically address how to build misinformation resilience amongst adolescents.

Since misinformation poses significant challenges, enhancing resilience against it is crucial. While interventions to increase resilience exist, their effectiveness varies, prompting the need for improvement.

Given the urgency of environmental issues (e.g., climate change, biodiversity loss, plastic pollution, and other environmental problems affecting the health of our planet), this project focuses on building adolescents' resilience against planetary health misinformation. Adolescents' unique vulnerability in this regard is addressed through a targeted approach aimed at combating misinformation related to planetary health. To achieve this, the PhD project has four objectives:
  • Understanding the factors driving adolescents’ susceptibility (or resilience) to planetary health related misinformation.
  • Identifying subgroups of adolescents according to (the mechanisms underlying) their susceptibility to misinformation.
  • Developing interventions in co-creation with adolescents themselves, as involving adolescents in intervention design, ensures relevance and effectiveness.
  • Testing the effectiveness and longevity of the interventions. This involves assessing whether targeted interventions are more effective in increasing resilience against misinformation compared to non-targeted interventions, including an examination of long-term impact and potential side effects.

By addressing these objectives, the project aims to develop more effective strategies to combat misinformation and empower adolescents in navigating complex societal challenges, particularly in the realm of planetary health.

The scientific approach of this project is marked by its multifaceted methodology and includes qualitative (focus groups) and quantitative (surveys, experiments) studies. The PhD Candidate will write a paper-based dissertation and strive to publish the results of individual sub-studies in important journals in the field of communication science.

The supervision team consists of supervisors from Persuasive Communication (Dr. Eline Smit – supervisor; Dr. Marijn Meijers – daily supervisor) and Entertainment Communication (Dr. Jeroen Lemmens).

Tasks include:
  • completing an English-language PhD dissertation consisting of research articles within the appointment period;
  • gaining knowledge of the field through literature research, discussion with team members, and internal research meetings;
  • designing empirical studies (focus groups, surveys, and an experimental intervention study);
  • planning, organizing, and conducting data-collection;
  • analysing and interpreting results of the different studies;
  • presenting results at local, national and international conferences;
  • submitting research articles to esteemed international peer-reviewed journals;
  • engaging in valorisation activities;
  • contributing to the vibrant academic life in Amsterdam in terms of events, workshops, meetings, activities, and lectures;
  • spending around 10% of your time on teaching-related tasks.

What do you have to offer?
You have:
  • a (research) master’s degree in Communication Science, Pedagogics, Psychology, or a related field or will obtain this degree before the start of the project;
  • experience with quantitative research methods and data analyses (e.g., in SPSS or R);
  • experience with (or are eager to learn) qualitative research methods and data analyses;
  • an excellent spoken and written command of English (as you will write an English-language dissertation and present at international conferences)
  • an excellent spoken and written command of Dutch (as this project will comprise conducting Dutch-language research among adolescents and keeping in touch with Dutch-speaking stakeholders)
  • good analytical, writing, and presenting skills;
  • good project and time management skills enabling you to meet the projects’ deadlines for finishing analyses, reports and other deliverables;

You are:
  • passionate about research, particularly related to misinformation, adolescents, and planetary health
  • interested in working in an interdisciplinary team
  • open to feedback
  • able to work independently
  • eager to learn and to develop new skills
  • organized, flexible and have attention to detail
  • strongly committed to methodological rigor and scientific integrity;
  • motivated to share exchange knowledge with academic and non-academic audiences.

What can we offer you?
  • a challenging work environment with ample scope for individual initiative and development within an inspiring organization;
  • an interdisciplinary setting, where you will be part of the ASCoR (Program Group: Persuasive Communication, the Mis-and disinformation initiative, and are welcome to join research meetings at ECoLab as well as CSDS;
  • working on a unique project, combining insights from different fields, working with stakeholders from practice, and contributing to shaping the content of the PhD project;
  • an enthusiastic and warm team that is open to new colleagues;
  • an inspiring academic and international working environment in the heart of Amsterdam.

The starting date is flexible, but the aimed starting date is September 1st, 2024. The position concerns temporary employment of 1.0 fte (38 hours per week) for a maximum term of 4 years. The initial employment is for one year. Following a positive assessment and barring altered circumstances, this term will be extended by a maximum of 3 years, which should result in the conferral of a doctorate.

We will put together a curriculum which will also include the opportunity to attend training courses and both national and international events. The position includes teaching duties (approximately 10%). For this position the PhD Candidate (Promovendus) profile 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%.

The UvA offers excellent possibilities for further professional development and education.

About the faculty
The Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) is the research institute for the Communication Science Department in the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences at the University of Amsterdam.

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

To work at the University of Amsterdam is to work in a discerning, independent, creative, innovative and international climate characterized by an open atmosphere and a genuine engagement with the city of Amsterdam and society. Here you can read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.

Do you have any questions or do you require additional information? Please contact:

Please make sure to include the vacancy number in the title of your email.

Job application
Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your application by June 5 2024. You may apply online by using the link below.

Applications in one bundled .pdf should include:
  • a letter of motivation, including a description of your fit for the position (max. 650 words);
  • an academic Curriculum Vitae (no longer than 3 pages);
  • on your CV include the names and email addresses of two references who can provide letters of recommendation, in case necessary later on in the process (no letters of recommendation are needed at this point);
  • on your CV, please state whether you have completed your degree or include a letter from the supervisor in which the expected date of completion of your degree is stated;
  • an English-writing sample (e.g., a master thesis or other recent individual essay).

Please upload this package as a single PDF on the next page in the 'CV' box.
Job interviews will be held Wednesday June 12.

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritise diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

No agencies please.

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University of Amsterdam (UvA)


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 13010


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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Nieuwe Achtergracht 166, 1018WV, Amsterdam

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Application procedure

Application procedure

Make sure to apply no later than 5 Jun 2024 23:59 (Europe/Amsterdam).