Research Assistant Social Change for Sustainability (1.0 FTE)

Research Assistant Social Change for Sustainability (1.0 FTE)

Published Deadline Location
13 Jul 31 Aug Utrecht

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Job description

We are looking for a motivated Research Assistant to assist with the literature review for the development of a theoretical framework for the analysis of mechanisms of societal transformation to sustainability. The position is funded by a NWO Vidi-funded project ‘Societal transformation to sustainability through the unmaking of capitalism? A comparative study of radical grassroots innovations’, led by Dr. Giuseppe Feola at the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University.

Modern, capitalist societies engage destructively with the natural environment. Societal transformation to sustainability is urged, but it implies a degree of disruption of capitalist ways of being and doing. Radical grassroots innovations – those that posit a profound cultural, economic, and political transformation of dominant institutions and practices - hold the potential to lead such transformation, but may be constrained by their marginal, local, small-scale character. This project aims to understand to what extent, under what conditions and through what processes radical grassroots innovations unmake modern, capitalist institutions and practices.

This position is an exciting opportunity to engage with theories of transformation to sustainability and to contribute to develop a cutting edge framework to identify and theorize mechanisms of unmaking that are involved in radical grassroots innovations. The Research Assistant will spend most of her/his time searching and critically analyzing Social Science literature for the development of the theoretical framework. It is envisioned that the Research Assistant will co-author one or more academic articles.


Utrecht University


We are looking for candidates that meet the following requirements:

  • a Master’s degree in Social Sciences, preferably with interdisciplinary orientation;
  • familiarity with, and interest in key concepts and theories in the fields of: social change and social movements studies, transformation to sustainability, grassroots innovations for sustainability, political ecology, degrowth, decoloniality, and/or other critical social sciences;
  • ability and willingness to work across social science disciplines;
  • ability to conduct critical and in-depth literature reviews;
  • excellent English communication skills (both written and oral);
  • ability to work independently as well as under supervision;
  • ability to work under time pressure;
  • willingness to learn and curiosity.

Conditions of employment

We offer a temporary position (1.0 FTE) for six months. The gross salary - depending on previous qualifications and experience  - ranges between €2,640 and €2,763 (scale 10 according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) gross per month for a full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8 % and a year-end bonus of 8.3 % per year. We offer a pension scheme, (partly paid) parental leave, collective insurance schemes and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). More information is available at: working at Utrecht University.


A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, colleagues from various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Sustainability, Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, and Life Sciences.


Utrecht University has been ranked in the 2017 Academic Ranking of World Universities as the best university in the Netherlands, and as one of the leading research universities in Europe. Utrecht University’s sustainability research has the greatest citation impact worldwide according to a study conducted by Times Higher Education (2016).

The city of Utrecht is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, with a charming old centre and an internationally oriented culture that is strongly influenced by its century-old university. Utrecht has been consistently ranked as one of the most livable cities in the Netherlands.


Utrecht University's Faculty of Geosciences offers education and research concerning the geosphere, biosphere, atmosphere and anthroposphere. With 3,400 students (BSc and MSc) and 720 staff, the Faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The Faculty of Geosciences is organized in four Departments: Earth Sciences, Human Geography & Urban & Regional Planning, Physical Geography, and the Department of Sustainable Development. The research of this Department is organized in the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development.

The Copernicus Institute is part of the Faculty of Geosciences. The Copernicus Institute has been evaluated in a 2014 international review as the highest ranked Research Institute in Environmental Sciences in the Netherlands. Since then, the Institute has intensified its efforts in maintaining its leading position, among others by investing in several new international Faculty appointments and by developing new, internationally oriented teaching programmes.


  • Support staff (Clerical, Administrative, Facility); Research, Development, Innovation
  • Natural Sciences; Behaviour and Society
  • 38—40 hours per week, temporary
  • €2640—€2763 per month
  • University Graduate
  • 988515



Domplein 29, 3512 JE, Utrecht

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