Published Deadline Location
21 Dec 17 Jan Amsterdam

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Job description

Are you  willing to learn new methods and techniques to study the future of landscapes in Europe? Then Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam would like to get to know you!

Job description
The PhD student will work in the collaborative, interdisciplinary project “SIPATH” (Operationalizing Sustainable Agricultural Intensification Pathways in Europe) in a team of researchers that will study historic, recent and future pathways of agricultural intensity in Europe. The project is a collaboration of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands and the research institutes WSL and AGROSCOPE in Switzerland. The PhD will study change processes in European agriculture based on data analysis, choice experiments and multi-agent modelling to understand how farmers will change their production system. Will they adopt new technology? Will they convert to organic farming? Or, will they stop farming altogether? Can we identify which barriers and constraints are found to sustainable intensification of farming and what will be the impact of incentives to alleviate these constraints? The PhD student will work in our case studies in Europe as well as at the European scale in collaboration with the other PhD students and postdocs in the project.
Your duties

  • Collect data and conduct experiments to understand decision making in European agricultural systems
  • Develop multi-agent models for exploring scenarios of technology uptake and adoption of sustainable farming techniques
  • Analyze the constraints and opportunities for uptake of sustainable intensification practices
  • Publish scientific papers on your research in peer-reviewed journals


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)


  • Msc degree in Geography, Environmental Sciences or Agricultural Economics
  • Affinity with quantitative research techniques including spatial analysis and modelling
  • Understanding of the dynamics in European landscapes
  • Eagerness to work in an interdisciplinary teams
  • Able to start between May and July 2019

Conditions of employment

The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts € 2,222.00 gross per month during the first year and increases to € 2,840.00 gross per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment.
The appointment will initially be for one year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a duration of 4 years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • considerable employer’s contribution to the ABP pension scheme
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package


The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. And to be a university where personal education and societal involvement play a leading role. Where people from different disciplines and backgrounds work together on innovations and on generating new knowledge. Our teaching and research embrace the whole spectrum of science – from the humanities, the social sciences and the pure sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 23,000 students. We employ more than 4,500 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible, located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

Diversity is one of our university’s core values. We are an inclusive community, and we believe that diversity and international activities enhance the quality of education and research. We are always looking for people who can enhance diversity on our campus thanks to their background and experience.


Faculty of Science - IVM - Department of Environmental Geography

Established in 1971, IVM is a leading environmental research institute that is internationally recognized for its high quality research output in a range of environmental disciplines, as well as for its interdisciplinary work. The mission of the institute is to contribute to sustainable development and care for the environment through scientific research and teaching. IVM aims to do excellent problem-oriented research that is useful to a wide range of stakeholders in the Netherlands and internationally. A unique strength of our research is to understand sustainability problems in their social and economic context. IVM’s research community works within four departments: Environmental Economics; Environmental Policy Analysis; Environmental Geography; and Water and Climate Risk. Since 2001 IVM is part of the Faculty of Science at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (

The Department of Environmental Geography investigates the role of spatial variation in environmental systems to increase our understanding of environmental change and support environmental management. The focus of the group is on land use change and its impacts on ecosystem services and society. Temporal dynamics and future scenarios are explored with spatial modelling of changes in land use and ecosystem services, including natural, rural and urban systems. Advanced methods for stakeholder participation and ex-ante evaluation are developed and tested to support environmental management and land use planning.


  • PhD positions
  • Economics; Behaviour and Society
  • max. 40 hours per week, temporary
  • University Graduate
  • 333


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)

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