Postdoc position in project "Designing for Controversies in Responsible Smart Cities" (1.0 FTE)

Postdoc position in project "Designing for Controversies in Responsible Smart Cities" (1.0 FTE)

Geplaatst Deadline Locatie
21 mrt 12 apr Utrecht

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Utrecht University's Faculty of Humanities is looking for a postdoc position in project "Designing for Controversies in Responsible Smart Cities". Are you interested? Then please read the full profile and apply.


We are looking for a Postdoc researcher (2 years, fulltime) who has experience and/or affinity with smart cities, datafication, public values, and design. You will be working at Utrecht University under the supervision of Dr. Michiel de Lange in the collaborative project "Designing for Controversies in Responsible Smart Cities”. The project is funded by NWO as part of the Smart Culture – Creative Cities call. The overall Project Leader is Prof. Mascha van der Voort at the University of Twente (UTwente); co-leads are Prof. Peter-Paul Verbeek (UTwente) and Dr. Michiel de Lange (dep. Media and Culture Studies, Universiteit Utrecht). Non-academic project consortium partners include The Municipality of Amersfoort, Marxman Advocaten, Aerovision, Kennislab voor Urbanisme, and the Design Innovation Group.

The project aims to investigate how controversies around the smart city can be made visible and debatable in order to garner broader civic engagement and agency. One of these controversies concerns the role of datafication in shaping today’s cities and urban culture in general, and public values in particular. What controversies arise from the datafication of urban life (e.g. ontological, epistemological, socio-political)? How can data aid in strengthening civic participation and public values in the smart city? What legal and privacy controversies arise through datafication? How can design interventions help to tease out these and other controversies, as well as the potential affordances of civic data?

As part of the project you will be working closely together with, and complementing a PhD researcher (UTwente, started Oct. 2018) and a Postdoc (UTwente, started Nov. 2018). Their focus is on the role of design and ethics in making controversies around the smart city visible and debatable.

Tasks for the Postdoc candidate will include:

  • mapping controversies around datafication in the smart city, with a focus on Amersfoort;
  • translating these to a research-by-design approach together with consortium partners;
  • exploring legal and privacy related controversies as part of the smart city;
  • complementing collaborative work on setting up and evaluating design interventions;
  • regular briefing of the project team on progress and findings;
  • reaching out and collaborating with the non-academic consortium partners, e.g. Marxman Advocaten about privacy and legal issues.
  • assisting in educational tasks (max. 20%).


Universiteit Utrecht


  • A completed PhD dissertation in a relevant field such as Media Studies, Social Science, Philosophy of Technology, Human Geography, Urban Design or any field related to the project topic.
  • Knowledge about processes of technological mediation in general, and datafication of the city in particular.
  • Experience in research on (smart) cities and urban culture.
  • Knowledge of theories about civic participation and empowerment, and public values.
  • A vision on and/or expertise in working on a specific controversy or friction.
  • Affinity/experience with research by design. 

Additional strengths:
  • affinity with legal and ethical matters;
  • affinity with (formulating) policy;
  • ability to understand Dutch because of the situated local context.


The Postdoc position will be for a two-year period, full time. The postdoc is expected to start on 1 June 2019 or not long after (Sept 1 2019 at the latest). Initially, there is a one-year contract. After a positive evaluation this contract can be extended for another year (2 years in total).

The salary scale will be 10/11, the gross salary will be between €3,389 and €3,637 per month on a full-time basis depending on experience and qualifications. Utrecht University offers a pension scheme, a holiday allowance of 8% per year, an end-of-year bonus of 8.3% and flexible employment conditions. Conditions are based on the Collective Employment Agreement of the Dutch Universities. More information: terms of employment.


Utrecht University is one of Europe’s leading research universities, recognized internationally for its high quality and innovative approach to both research and teaching. Founded in 1636, the University has always focused strongly on research. Owing to its solid grounding in discipline-based scholarship, Utrecht University is at the forefront of developments in interdisciplinary knowledge. The University participates in various thematic multidisciplinary collaborations that conduct excellent research. With its prominence in teaching and research, Utrecht University works towards finding solutions of the highest possible impact and significance to the major challenges facing the 21st century.

The Faculty of Humanities has around 7,000 students and 900 staff members. With its research and education in these fields, the Faculty aims to contribute to a better understanding of the Netherlands and Europe in a rapidly changing social and cultural context. The enthusiastic and highly motivated colleagues and the excellent facilities in the historic city centre of Utrecht, where the Faculty is located, provide a stimulating professional atmosphere.

The Department of Media and Culture Studies provides education on and carries out research in the fields of film, television, games, new media and digital culture, theatre, dance and performance, gender and ethnicity, music and cultural policies. Culture is a dynamic mix of artistic, creative and everyday practices with which people shape their identities and actions, and within which societal structures and institutions take shape. Media (old and new) are crucial factors in these processes. The scholars in media and culture studies from the various research groups often work together to explore issues surrounding different facets of the role played by art, culture, and media in present-day society. The research focuses on a broad range of media and cultural and artistic performances, which are studied within their intermedial context. We pay particular attention to the relation between historical and contemporary developments, transmedial and intermedial phenomena, cultural diversity, emancipation, heritage and the digital humanities.


  • Postdoc
  • Taal en cultuur
  • 38—40 uur per week
  • €3389—€3637 per maand
  • Gepromoveerd
  • 1034567


Universiteit Utrecht

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