PhD position on Floating Communities

PhD position on Floating Communities

Published Deadline Location
6 Nov 30 Nov Groningen

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The Faculty of Spat

Job description

The Faculty of Spatial Sciences (FSS) at the University of Groningen (RUG) is looking for an enthusiastic PhD Candidate on water governance, in particular the development of floating communities.

The FSS consists of approximately 110 members of staff, 120 PhD researchers, and around 1100 students. We focus on high quality teaching and research in the fields of social and economic geography, demography, and spatial planning. With a Faculty slogan of ‘making places better together’ and an overarching research theme 'Towards Wellbeing, Innovation and Spatial Transformation' (tWIST), it is our mission to produce research which is world-leading, distinctive, and policy-relevant. With two Bachelor and eight Master programs, we provide a wide range of courses within the fields of geography and the spatial sciences.

You will be based in the Department of Spatial Planning and Environment, which has around 30 members of staff and around 30 PhD candidates. The research agenda of the Department is centered on institutional design for purposeful interventions within the human environment. The Department offers a vibrant academic environment with an international staff and extensive experience in working within national and international research projects. The Department actively pursues socially relevant research, as is also expressed in its research targeting water governance and climate adaptation in relation to spatial planning to which the PhD Candidate is to contribute.

We are looking for an enthusiastic PhD Candidate on the topic of ‘Floating Communities’, which is part of the interdisciplinary and applied national research project ‘Floating Future: Scaling up floating structures as climate-proof space-creating solution enabling societal, industrial and ecological win-wins’. ‘Floating Future’, led by research institute MARIN, is funded by the Dutch Science Council (NWO) and consists of a broad research consortium including multiple universities, universities of applied sciences, research institutes, public authorities, businesses and NGOs. The overall objective is to develop knowledge about societal acceptance, the required governance and legal arrangements, the ecological impacts and the technological challenges related to building large-scale floating islands. In the context of this research project, one Postdoctoral researcher and various PhD researchers in the fields of governance, technology and ecology will be appointed and closely working together in concrete study areas (inland, coastal port city and offshore). Participatory Action Research will be the Floating Future ‘integration engine’ where the different scientific disciplines and societal stakeholders meet and co-create knowledge about how large-scale floating urban developments can be realized, developing ‘maritime urbanism’ as a new field of expertise. The Department of Spatial Planning and Environment at the Faculty of Spatial Sciences will host the Postdoctoral researcher that is part of the project and one PhD researcher on ‘Floating communities’.

The PhD position on ‘Floating Communities’ is part of the work package on Governance. The societal acceptance and inclusiveness of large-scale floating urban developments is not self-evident and needs to be studied. So far, existing floating housing projects are rather small-scale and mostly focus on relatively wealthy home-owners. This raises questions about acceptance, accessibility and affordability of larger scale floating developments. The aim of this PhD research is therefore to study the societal need for and social value of living and working on large-scale floating structures in different cases, as well as the institutional obstacles related to developing inclusive floating communities and upscaling. In this way, insight is provided in novel inclusive floating community concepts, and in the social principles and tools which enable, motivate and mobilize citizens, NGOs and other stakeholders to participate in large-scale floating urban developments.

We expect the PhD candidate to conceptualize social value in relation to large-scale floating communities, in combination with the development of an institutional perspective on upscaling floating urbanization. Empirically, the PhD Candidate is expected to review existing floating projects and to actively engage in the Participatory Action Research in the three case study areas that are part of the Floating Future project, using creative and art-based research methods, but also interviews and focus group discussions. Moreover, as a Floating Future researcher, you will not only participate in the interdisciplinary action research in the three case study areas, but from your specific discipline also proactively contribute to the organization of the various sessions and workshops that are part of the Participatory Action Research. Finally, occasionally, you may teach in Bachelor and Master educational programmes and supervise students’ theses.


University of Groningen


We are looking for a social, enthusiastic, and ambitious candidate with an MSc degree in Spatial Planning, Geography, Environmental Policy, Policy Sciences or a related discipline. The ideal candidate has excellent study results and is experienced in working in interdisciplinary settings, applying qualitative data and research methods, conducting research in planning practice, and has knowledge on and/or affinity with the topic. Candidates should be motivated to connect science to practice, have excellent academic writing skills (English) and organization and communication skills, and should be able to cooperate in a multi-disciplinary team. Given the Dutch research context, Dutch proficiency (or the ability and willingness to achieve this within one year) is an absolute plus.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 48 months.

We offer in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement for Dutch Universities:

• a monthly salary (based on a 38-hour working week) starting from € 2,770 which increases yearly to a maximum of € 3,539 in the fourth year
• a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income in May
• an 8.3% end-of-the-year allowance in December
• a full-time temporary appointment for a period of in principle four years, under the condition of a positive assessment after 9 months.

The intended starting date is: 1 February 2024


  • PhD; PhD
  • Behaviour and society; Economics
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • max. €3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • V23.0740


University of Groningen

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Broerstraat 5, 9712 CP, Groningen

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