PhD candidate Deep transdisciplinary learning for sustainable transitions

PhD candidate Deep transdisciplinary learning for sustainable transitions

Published Deadline Location
30 Jun 29 Jul Amsterdam

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Job description

'Stepping Out: Accelerating deep transdisciplinary and interprofessional learning for innovative actions, interventions and strategies of deep sustainable transitions in port area development' is an NWO funded project, a collaboration between the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment of TU-Delft, the Centre for Urban Studies (CUS) of the Amsterdam Institute of Social Science Research (AISSR), the Hogeschool Rotterdam and a wider range of public and private partners in the Rotterdam and Amsterdam harbour areas.

In this research project two PhD researchers (one based in Delft and one based in Amsterdam) and a postdoctoral researcher (based in Delft for the first two years and in Amsterdam for the latter two years) will be appointed. This call is specifically opened for a PhD candidate to be based in Amsterdam. We are looking for candidates with strong affinity with transdisciplinary research, who have proven academic skills to combine theoretical innovation and scientific rigour with interactive research practice aiming at societal change. All team members will work partly embedded in ongoing planning processes in the case-study areas.

What will you be doing?

Institutional learning experiences can address sustainable transitions by enabling deep learning practices between public and private sector actors and urban communities, which we define as Interprofessional Learning. These transdisciplinary approaches transcend current knowledge domains and co-create novel actions, interventions and strategies as transformative governance practices. The aim of this project is to put science at the service of the coalitions formed in the Rotterdam Makers District and Koppelkansen Havenstad (Amsterdam) respectively, and support and systematize the ongoing processes of knowledge co-creation. Both case-study areas have to integrate multiple sustainability transitions simultaneously, i.e. energy transition, climate change, circularity, mobility.

The project therefore, addresses two interrelated questions on institutional learning for deep sustainable transitions:

  1. How do professionals, sector-based organisations and place-based actor networks drive deep transdisciplinary and interprofessional learning to co-create innovative solutions for deep sustainable transitions? and
  2. How do these actors overcome emergent paradoxes in such learning in transformative governance?

Key responsibilities of the PhD candidate:

  • conduct transdisciplinary research that contributes to the project deliverables and the writing of a PhD thesis;
  • engage effectively with key stakeholders on the project and support their work;
  • be an active member of the Knowledge Action Network Kennisactiewater;
  • undertake relevant coursework and other training;
  • contribute to the writing of high-quality, high-impact academic publications;
  • participate in the general intellectual life of the programme group Governance and Inclusive Development and the department Geography, Planning and International Development Studies.


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


We are looking for a candidate who has excellent and proven academic skills of interactive research and writing. Moreover, we expect the candidates to have proven interest in and ability to frame their PhD work within an ongoing research project, by fulfilling the expectations of the research project in combination with their PhD research. Finally, the candidate should be able to bridge the boundaries between science and practice, in a broad transdisciplinary team. We expect the candidate to fulfil the following expectations:

  • a Master’s degree in a relevant cognate discipline (e.g. organisational and management studies, urban governance studies, transformative governance, institutional learning, urban planning and geography, and public administration studies) with an evident interest in theories of institutional learning, transformative governance, and/or sustainable transitions;
  • familiarity with qualitative research methods or a strong desire to learn advanced qualitative methods that support engaged scholarship;
  • a substantive interest in working with stakeholders in practice to drive behavioural change in sustainable transitions;
  • native (or close to native) Dutch speaker with an excellent command of the English language;
  • excellent study results and academic skills, visible in the Bachelors and Masters course transcripts;
  • strong critical thinking and academic writing skills (both in Dutch and English), visible in the writing sample;
  • affinity with science communication and popular communication;
  • the ability to work independently, and as part of a team.

Conditions of employment

Our offer

The position concerns a temporary employment contract of 38 hours per week for a maximum term of 4 years. The initial employment contract is for one year. Following a positive assessment and barring altered circumstances, this term will be extended by a maximum of 3 years, which should result in the conferral of a doctorate. We will put together a curriculum which will also include the opportunity to attend training courses and both national and international events. You will also be tasked with teaching Bachelor's students.

Your salary will be €2.395 gross per month in the first year and will increase to €3.061 in the final year, based on full-time employment and in keeping with the  Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities. We additionally offer an extensive package of secondary benefits, including 8% holiday allowance and a year-end bonus of 8.3%.


University of Amsterdam

With over 5,000 employees, 30,000 students and a budget of more than 600 million euros, the University of Amsterdam (UvA) is an intellectual hub within the Netherlands. Teaching and research at the UvA are conducted within seven faculties: Humanities, Social and Behavioural Sciences, Economics and Business, Law, Science, Medicine and Dentistry. Housed on four city campuses in or near the heart of Amsterdam, where disciplines come together and interact, the faculties have close links with thousands of researchers and hundreds of institutions at home and abroad.  

The UvA’s students and employees are independent thinkers, competent rebels who dare to question dogmas and aren’t satisfied with easy answers and standard solutions. To work at the UvA is to work in an independent, creative, innovative and international climate characterised by an open atmosphere and a genuine engagement with the city of Amsterdam and society.


Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences - Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG) is the largest social-science educational and research institution in the Netherlands. The Faculty serves around 9,000 students in numerous Bachelor's and Master's programs in Political Science, Sociology, Anthropology, Communication Science, Psychology, Human Geography, Urban and Regional Planning, International Development Studies and Educational Sciences. The academic staff is employed in education as well as research. There are over 1,200 employees at the Faculty, located in a number of buildings in the center of Amsterdam. The Department of Geography, Planning and International Development Studies is one of the six Departments in the FMG. Research and education are carried out by special institutes. The Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR) is responsible for research in the social sciences. The College of Social Sciences (CSS) and the Graduate School of Social Sciences (GSSS) are responsible for undergraduate and graduate teaching programs in the social sciences. Research and teaching in the Department of Geography, Planning and International Development Studies is organized in four thematic programme groups: Governance and Inclusive Development (GID), Geographies of Globalizations (GOG), Urban Geographies (UG) and Urban Planning (UP). This vacancy will be partly at the programme group Governance and Inclusive Development.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2395—€3061 per month
  • University graduate
  • 20-385


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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