Ph.D. Researcher Vacancy “Water4Change: integrative and fit-for-purpose water sensitive design framework for fast-growing liveable cities”

Ph.D. Researcher Vacancy “Water4Change: integrative and fit-for-purpose water sensitive design framework for fast-growing liveable cities”

Published Deadline Location
25 Jun 12 Aug Rotterdam

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DRIFT is seeking to expand its team with a new driven, motivated and outstanding PhD researcher interested in sustainability transitions and resilience in general and in urban water systems and governance with a passion in linking scientific understanding and insights to policy and practice.

Job description


The doctoral researcher will be part of the Water4Change research project and as thus connected to an international research consortium on fit-for-purpose water sensitive design for fast growing liveable cities in India.  As part of the DRIFT team, the researcher will also engage in other activities in the field of research, education, consultancy and practice.

The Water4Change project

The Water4Change research programme addresses the complex challenges to urban water systems faced by fast-growing cities in India. India is a country which is rapidly growing into urban agglomerations showing infrastructure deficits and adaptation gaps in relation to current and future climatic, societal and economic change. The programme embraces water as a basic necessity for life that is both an agent and catalyst of positive transformative changes that are needed to pro-actively deal with and respond to these challenges. To facilitate long-term sustainability and resilience of urban water systems, the programme will co-create and mainstream an integrative, fit-for-purpose and adaptive water sensitive design framework in close collaboration with stakeholders in three Indian cities. The framework will be developed by synergistically connecting four realms – governance, built and natural environment, technology and infrastructure design and societal behaviours – for the delivery of transformative change. The project is co-funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and the Indian Government Department of Science and Technology (DST) under the Cooperation India – the Netherlands programme.

The focal aim of this doctoral research position is to develop and apply a conceptual and methodological framework for evaluating and strengthening capacities for water sensitive governance in cities. Shifting to and maintaining water sensitive urban systems places multiple new demands on governance. It requires to proactively adapt to and cope with multiple uncertainties and shocks in the short- and long-term, to take interrelations and dynamics across the full water cycle as well as other socio-economic and ecological conditions into account, and to ensure inclusive and innovative decision-making. Next to developing a novel framework to assess and strengthen water sensitive governance capacities, your research will develop a Transition Management based methodology to co-create pathways for developing and strengthening such capacities together with local stakeholders in the Indian case study cities. Your research will respond to relevant research gaps in sustainability transitions, resilience and adaptive governance literatures, addressing the following research questions: How can capacities for adaptive, inclusive and innovative water sensitive governance be conceptualised and assessed? How can transition management be applied as an operational framework to support governance capacity building in Indian cities?




Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)



 The main objectives of the PhD research position are:


 Developing a conceptual and methodological framework to assess, co-design and strengthen capacities for water sensitive governance in cities


  • Analysing and comparing governance capacities in Indian cities

  • Conducting field research and workshops in India and collaborating with other PhD researchers from India

  • Publishing research findings in scientific journals, presenting the project at international conferences, cross-fertilizing the results with local and international scholars and practitioners


Other activities


In other DRIFT projects and activities, the PhD researcher will support acquisition of research proposals, bridging science to practice by supporting consultancy projects and also supporting education with the Transition Academy. 

The successful applicant will have an excellent academic track record, a completed M.Sc., M.A. or equivalent university degree, and demonstrated capacity for interdisciplinary science research. We encourage candidates with a multi-disciplinary background in Sustainability Science, Environmental Governance, Policy Studies, Urban Planning and Environmental Sociology to apply.

An affinity with sustainability transitions, the concepts of urban water systems, transition management and transdisciplinary research, and experiences with conducting empirical research are highly desirable. Ideally, the candidate has first-hand experiences with theories of urban water governance, transition governance and/or adaptive governance.

The project requires frequent traveling to Indian case study cities. The candidate should be proficient in English (both writing and speaking) on a C2 CEFR level (or equivalent), and willing to collaborate and travel internationally. Candidates should be proficient in Dutch (CEFR C1) or willing and able to learn Dutch to this level within the first year (as a condition to continue the PhD). During any stage in the selection process, DRIFT may choose to ask you take a language assessment. Work or life experience in both western and non-western context is highly preferred.

The Supervisory Team
The research will be supervised by an experienced and collaborative team comprising:

  • Katharina Hölscher

  • Prof. dr. Derk Loorbach

Conditions of employment

Conditions of employment

In accordance with our employment policies, you will be offered a temporary contract for one year, with conditions for extension to three further years depending on performance. You will be employed by the ESSB faculty of Erasmus University and placed on secondment to the DRIFT institute.

Salary is subject to salary grades P0 to P2 (€ 2.325 to € 2.972 gross (bruto) amounts). On inception of the employment contract, you will be placed in salary grade P0 (€ 2.325) for a period of 12 months. Salary grades correspond to the Collective Labour Agreement of the Dutch universities (CAO), a 40 hour-work week, with a generous amount of leave days. In addition to the monthly salary, an end-of-year payment of 8,3% and a holiday allowance of 8% will be paid. We offer a dynamic and challenging environment and good working conditions as well as a flexible pension plan and various collective insurances. Employees can use the sport accommodation and the university library. The initial period is one year. At the end of the first year, performance will be evaluated, and if progress towards a PhD is satisfactory, the employment will be prolonged.

Start of contract: November 1st 2019, December 1st at the very latest.


  • PhD positions; PhD scholarships
  • Behaviour and Society
  • max. 40 hours per week
  • €2325—€2972 per month
  • University Graduate
  • DRIFT/25062019


Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)

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