PhD Candidate Geo-technologies for Infrastructuring Urban Futures

PhD Candidate Geo-technologies for Infrastructuring Urban Futures

Published Deadline Location
21 Nov 17 Dec Enschede

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Job description

Contemporary urbanization is accompanied by a variety of challenges with regard to the quality of urban life. In the literature and recent urban policy and planning debates, geo-technologies - defined as the ensemble of tools, devices and infrastructures to acquire, process and visualize geo-spatial data (e.g. Geographic Information Systems, spatial simulation tools, location-based technologies) - are seen as crucial for addressing pressing urban issues such as basic service provision, disaster risk reduction, urban mobility or urban poverty. They are increasingly embedded into urban governance, planning and management processes, daily lives of urban residents and private sector analytics for a variety of purposes. Drawing heavily on recent developments with regard to data analytics and advanced computing, cities across the globe have the vision to become smart, sustainable and inclusive cities. At the same time, however, such a technocratic approach is critiqued for its narrow vision, positivist assumptions, exclusionary effects, controversial impacts on empowerment, privacy, and surveillance, and its inability to represent complex issues. Although there are several empirical examples with regard to the use of geo-technologies for addressing urban issues, we know too little with regard to their potential to achieve normative urban goals such as creating inclusive cities.

This PhD project aims to investigate the potentials and limitations of geo-technologies for ‘infrastructuring urban futures’ with respect to one selected urban infrastructure (e.g. water and sanitation, solid waste management, transportation, or energy). It will analyse 1) whether the practices of geo-technologies enable, constrain, or disrupt the governance (from the perspective of service provider) and use (from the user’s perspective) of the selected infrastructure; 2) how these practices are locally embedded; and 3) what societal implications these practices may engender. The multi- and transdisciplinary project combines a critical analysis of existing practices with an experimental approach (e.g. with a professional or residential community) to get a better understanding of the implications of well-designed geo-technological interventions, e.g. by introducing an application that helps in acquiring information about a certain issue. The study area of the empirical investigation depends on the candidate’s expertise and will be decided upon with the supervisors. In the first period of the PhD, the PhD candidate will elaborate a research proposal that will be evaluated 6 months after the start by a Qualifier committee. The PhD project is closely related to another PhD project which focuses on the development of a geo-technological application.


University of Twente (UT)


We are looking for a creative and motivated candidate. You should have:

  • A MSc in Geo-Information Science with a social science orientation, Urban Studies, Human Geography, Urban Planning or related field.
  • Knowledge of geo-information science (e.g. knowledge of GIS, remote sensing or sensor systems) as well as qualitative social science research methods.
  • Excellent written and spoken English language skills and communication skills.
  • Fieldwork experience, preferable in developing countries. 

Short-listed applicants will be required to submit a concept paper of 1500 words describing how they plan to study this topic.

Information and application
For more information you can contact Prof. Dr. Karin Pfeffer (e-mail: You are also invited to visit our homepage.

Please submit your application (detailed Curriculum Vitae and a letter elaborating the motivation for the application) through the form before December 16, 2017 (choose “apply now” below).

Conditions of employment

We offer you an inspiring multidisciplinary and challenging international and academic environment. The university offers a dynamic ecosystem with enthusiastic colleagues in which internationalization is an important part of the strategic agenda.

You will be fulltime employed for a period of 4 years. Salary and conditions will be in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement (CAO-NU) of the Dutch Universities.

  • A starting salary of € 2.222,- in the first year and a salary of € 2.840,- in the fourth year gross per month;
  • A holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.3%;
  • A solid pension scheme;
  • Minimum of 29 holiday days in case of full-time employment;
  • Professional and personal development programs;
  • Cost for moving to Enschede may be reimbursed.


The University of Twente. We stand for life sciences and technology. High tech and human touch. Education and research that matter. New technology which drives change, innovation and progress in society. The University of Twente is the only campus university in the Netherlands; divided over five faculties we provide more than fifty educational programmes. The University of Twente has a strong focus on personal development and talented researchers are given scope for carrying out pioneering research.

The Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC) of the University of Twente provides international postgraduate education, research and project services in the field of geo-information science and earth observation using remote sensing and GIS. The aim of ITC's activities is the international exchange of knowledge, focusing on capacity building and institutional development in developing countries and emerging economies.


  • PhD positions
  • Natural Sciences; Engineering
  • max. 38 hours per week, temporary
  • €2222—€2840 per month
  • University Graduate
  • 948726


University of Twente (UT)

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Drienerlolaan 5, 7522 NB, Enschede

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