PhD position in “Game-based approaches for drought resilience in the Eastern Netherlands – a valuing water perspective”

PhD position in “Game-based approaches for drought resilience in the Eastern Netherlands – a valuing water perspective”

Published Deadline Location
13 May 9 Jun Enschede

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Job description

The hypothesis that underlies this PhD position is that these and other questions are underdeveloped, both from a scientific point of view and towards practical implementation of measures set to build local drought resilience, and that a game-based approach can help address these questions. First, the scientific community lacks a holistic and inclusive understanding of water use’s multiple values – including stakeholders’ perspective on drought and water allocation. Second, serious gaming has proven to be suitable for engaging a variety of stakeholders to collaboratively explore possible futures and courses of action. Third, using gaming to determine future pathways that explicitly include the value of water may support strategic decision-making of stakeholders in the Twente region. Therefore, this PhD project seeks to explore the merit of game-based approaches to assess the various values that water represents, to increase drought resilience in the Eastern Netherlands.

The position
The specific focus of your PhD project is to develop a conceptual framework to express multiple values of water use, in the geographic and policy context of the Eastern Netherlands, with the aim to aid resilience assessments. You will be able to build on literature about value assessment and valuation techniques from social, economic, and environmental research domains, as well as prior knowledge developed by other PhD candidates in our group working on related questions.

You will apply your framework by developing and testing a game-based approach to elicit stakeholder perspectives on the value of water with the aim to support discussions and decisions in a multi-stakeholder context on resource allocations. The envisioned method can be categorized as a game as research tool, using games to gather data.

After having investigated the status quo, you will develop transition pathways for future water allocation in the Eastern Netherlands. These pathways should base on plausible future climate projections as well as on foreseen socio-economic developments. As a next step, you will explore to what extent these pathways match stakeholder’s values and the increase of drought resilience. You will subsequently design a serious game to support interaction with these future projections and possible actions that can be taken and evaluate the game with stakeholders both to improve the game and to assess to what extent it successfully supports stakeholders in exploring ways to improve regional drought resilience.

You will publish your findings resulting from these analyses about the present and the future in peer-reviewed scientific journals, in collaboration with your advisors and colleagues.


University of Twente (UT)


We are looking for an enthusiastic, professional, and highly motivated candidate with the following profile:
  • You hold a Master’s degree in a field relevant to the PhD topic, such as Environmental Sciences, Environmental Engineering, Industrial Design (Engineering) or any other transdisciplinary study connecting Environmental/Water Science, Social Sciences, and Engineering;
  • You are a strong conceptual thinker with outstanding analytical skills;
  • You have strong social skills and enjoy working with stakeholders;
  • You are creative and have experience and/or interest in developing games for research;
  • A background in one or more of the following topics is an advantage: economic, environmental, and/or societal value assessments and valuation techniques, resilience assessments, mixed-methods approaches, complex systems analysis, scenario analysis, quantitative modelling;
  • You exhibit high levels of self-motivation while also being a team player;
  • You enjoy working in a multidisciplinary research setting with an international research team to achieve both scientific excellence and policy relevance;
  • You can prove your excellent command of the English language and strong (professional) communication skills;
  • You are proficient in Dutch or willing to learn

Conditions of employment

  • A full-time 4-year PhD-position;
  • We provide excellent mentorship and a stimulating research environment with excellent facilities;
  • You are offered a professional and personal development program within the Twente Graduate School;
  • A starting salary of € 2.770 gross per month in the first year and a salary of € 3.539 in the fourth year gross per month;
  • A holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.3%;
  • A solid pension scheme;
  • Minimum of 29 holidays per year in case of fulltime employment;


The PhD research project is a collaboration between the Multidisciplinary Water Management (MWM) and Human Centered Design (HCD) group, both part of the Faculty of Engineering Technology. On a daily basis, you will be supervised by Robert-Jan den Haan (HCD), Rick Hogeboom (MWM) and dr. Lara Wöhler (MWM).

The Human Centered Design (HCD) group focuses on truly understanding what people need by involving them throughout a design process. Researchers in the HCD group thereby focus on iteratively co-designing and evaluating tools, products and methods with people. One research line of the group is on water management related issues (both quantity and quality) in the context of climate resilience. Here, focus is on developing interactive environments (e.g. games) that support stakeholders in exploring possible futures like climate change scenarios, offer ways to take actions and show feedback on effects of those actions. Besides taking a human centered design approach and building on a variety of design methods to involve stakeholders in developing suitable environments, the research line builds on interaction design principles and tangible and embodied interaction specifically. The resulting environments include (simplified) models, data and scenarios and through interaction aim to support stakeholder discussions and collaborations, and by extension decision-making.

In the Multidisciplinary Water Management (MWM) group, we understand that freshwater is essential to sustain life and economic development but it is also a vulnerable resource whose availability and quality varies around the globe. We need to understand the natural and socio-economic processes that affect water resources and develop solutions to water scarcity, flooding, and pollution while considering interactions with other aspects of sustainable development.

Our group studies the dynamics of water demand and availability as influenced by agricultural and industrial production, consumption and international trade as well as climate change, the energy transition, environmental policies, and offsetting strategies. The methods we use include water footprint and life cycle assessment, hydrological modelling, environmentally extended input-output analysis, integrated assessment, and policy evaluation.

We understand water related grand challenges as a shared responsibility in a wider environmental and socio-economic context. Hence, we engage different stakeholders and sectors to develop both science-based and actionable solutions. To support decision-making, we provide data, models, and tools and share our knowledge in academic teaching and science dissemination.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 1787


University of Twente (UT)

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Drienerlolaan 5, 7522NB, Enschede

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