PhD candidate "On the Move" - Participative exploratory modelling of mobility system transitions

PhD candidate "On the Move" - Participative exploratory modelling of mobility system transitions

Published Deadline Location
9 Mar 18 Apr Delft

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Job description

The Dutch National Science Foundation (NWO) has granted the research proposal "On the Move: Transition towards Sustainable Mobility". Together with public and private partners, the Radboud University (RU) and Delft University of Technology (DUT) plan to study transition strategies towards a sustainable mobility system. The grant allows for 2 PhD positions and 1 postdoc position at RU and 2 PhD positions at DUT.

Background of "On the Move"
Mobility must become more sustainable. However, there is great uncertainty about the right way(s) to achieve a sustainable future for mobility. Options range from electric to hydrogen, from self-driving to collective, from shared to as-a-service, or perhaps combinations. But how? That is a question that can only be answered if you understand the positions of all relevant actors: the service providers who innovate, the users who may adjust their behaviour, governments that want to shape a transition. Jointly, there are many paths to lead them to the future.

This programme adopts an integrated perspective and focusses on how to deal with uncertainty in such a dynamic field of actors. It aims to develop and test disruptive strategies that justify the many, often deep, uncertainties and real-world actor behaviours. Traditional trend-based models used to explore the future (the traditional ‘predict and act’ paradigm) do not match with this challenge. Therefore, this research adopts a ‘monitor and adapt’ paradigm based on a completely different systems approach. It aims for an interdisciplinary and creative way of future thinking, and initiating interventions. This systems approach is based on creative and participative methods for mapping systems, designing and modelling interventions, and visualizing their impacts.

PhD position as part of "On the Move"
The topic of this PhD project at DUT is Participative exploratory modelling of mobility system transitions. This project will be supervised by dr. C.E. van Daalen (DUT), prof. E. Rouwette (RU) and dr. J. Kwakkel (DUT). A dynamic simulation model can help to provide insights into possible system behaviour and its (deep) uncertainties. This project adopts an Exploratory Modelling and Analysis (EMA) approach in order to generate multiple futures based on these uncertainties. This approach specifically focuses on actor decision making behaviour, and allows for evolving perceptions and norms/values over time, and evolving mobility options and properties of these options.


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


Master’s degree from a multi-disciplinary engineering program (e.g. engineering and policy analysis, systems engineering, systems analysis, transport infrastructure and logistics, industrial engineering). Notably demonstrable systems modelling skills, e.g. agent-based modelling, system dynamics modelling.

  • Interest in innovations for mobility systems, with a demonstrable interest in governance issues;
  • Demonstrable strong analytical and methodological skills;
  • Systems thinker (multidisciplinary interest);
  • Excellent command of written and spoken English skills and preferably proficiency in Dutch;
  • Excellent communication skills and interested in translating research ideas and findings for the benefit of non-academic stakeholders (e.g. managers and policymakers);
  • The ability to work independently and as a team player, i.e. willingness to interact intensively with your scientific colleagues and the Dutch societal partners within the consortium.

You will become a member of the Policy Analysis section of the Multi-Actor Systems (MAS) department of the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management and of TRAIL Research School.
The PhD candidates will be expected to attend relevant courses and activities for further personal development. A plan for this will be made at the start of the project.
In addition, you will participate proactively in the On the Move consortium of RU, DUT and societal partners participating in this project.
You will be expected to present your research at international conferences and publish your results in scientific journals. Moreover, you are expected to finish your research with a PhD Thesis.
A description of the 2 PhD vacancies at RU may be found at

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 4 years.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, a discount for health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. Coming to Delft Service organizes diverse events for new international employees and their accompanying partners, like Partner Career Workshops and Dutch Culture Workshops. Located on campus are the International Children’s Centre and an international primary school which are subject to availability as well as several bilingual schools in the nearby surrounding. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.
As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment; an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor; and a Doctoral Education Programme aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills. Please visit for more information.


Technische Universiteit Delft

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) is a multifaceted institution offering education and carrying out research in the technical sciences at an internationally recognised level. Education, research and design are strongly oriented towards applicability. TU Delft develops technologies for future generations, focusing on sustainability, safety and economic vitality. At TU Delft you will work in an environment where technical sciences and society converge. TU Delft comprises eight faculties, unique laboratories, research institutes and schools.


Faculty Technology, Policy and Management

The Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management (TPM) develops robust models and designs, to solve the complex challenges of today’s networked society. TPM combines insights from the engineering sciences with insights from the humanities and the social sciences.

The MAS department consists of three sections: Organisation & Governance (OG), Policy Analysis (PA), and Systems Engineering (SE). The sections represent different cores of expertise organized as distinct groups within the department. The Policy Analysis section aims to develop and use methods and techniques for the design, implementation, and evaluation of policy in complex, multi-actor settings. Since policy problems and the policy context cover multiple domains, they demand an interdisciplinary approach. The work of the section spans different domains with strong research portfolios in the areas of water and deltas, climate adaptation, humanitarian response, and logistics and transportation systems. Modelling and simulation of large-scale complex systems, combined with exploratory modeling and analysis, is one of the key tools to help policy development and (interactive) decision making.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • 36—40 hours per week
  • €2325—€2972 per month
  • University graduate
  • ATTBM 20.016


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

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