Postdoctoral Researcher in Global Sustainability Transitions

Utrecht University
Utrecht, Netherlands
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
University/Academia/Research/Think tank
Experience Level: 
Not Specified
Degree Required: 


Please note: this job post has expired! To the best of our knowledge, this job is no longer available and this page remains here for archival purposes only.


We are looking for one or two motivated Postdoctoral Researchers in the field of global sustainability transitions, specifically for the projects ‘Deep Transitions’ and ‘MOTION’. It is our intention to appoint candidates at Utrecht University, but we are also willing to consider candidates associated to other institutions (as lecturer or in an equivalent position) to do a temporary transfer for this research assignment (in such a case, we need to negotiate the terms and conditions with the candidate and their employer).

Deep Transitions: Learning from History to Imagine the Future
A new research project led by Professor Johan Schot examines the concept of ‘Deep Transitions’ (DT) - the coordinated change of many socio-technical systems in the same direction, over a period of time, which result in large-scale social, ecological and economic impact, transforming the nature of world societies. The Deep Transition work focuses on developing socio-technical scenario’s for the Second Deep Transition as it may unfold the coming decades. This Second Deep Transition will have to incorporate the sustainable development challenge. The scenarios need to take into account the impact of the 4th Industrial Revolution (digital transformation). The scenarios will be developed together with an International Panel of private and public investors. This is a project in close collaboration with the Science Policy Research Unit of the University of Sussex.

MOTION: Building a Methodology and Community of Practice for Catalysing Transformative Change through System Innovation
Limiting Global Warming to within a 1.5-degree Celsius target requires an unprecedented speed of de-carbonisaton. Incremental changes are not enough and what is required is a fundamental transformation of socio-technical systems developed to deliver societal services (heat, power, mobility, food, water, and healthcare) – also known as systemic change. In its strategy a ‘Transformation in Time’ EIT Climate KIC articulates an ambitious aim – to act as an orchestrated innovation eco-system, connecting demand side actors and supply side innovation to catalyse such systemic change. This project aims to make a substantial contribution to this aim by developing a methodology for working on catalysing system change and enabling viable alternatives at scale, something which currently does not exist. The methodology will articulate and define “transformative outcomes” and corresponding indicators, and will integrate these outcomes into a formative evaluation approach focused on monitoring and learning for place based innovation initiatives in cities, and regions, and nation-states. Through a process of co-creation with other universities as well as our funder, the project will test the methodology in three geographies – DACH, Benelux and the Mediterranean, aiming to build a community of practice with the skills to implement the methodology.


The successful candidate should be ambitious and have a relevant Masters and PhD degree (at the start of the contract) in Environmental History, Sustainability Sciences, Science and Technology Studies or related fields. The successful candidate should have a number of the qualifications below:

  • is familiar with sustainability transitions/sustainability sciences literature (requirement);
  • experience working in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary projects (requirement);
  • excellent written and spoken English skills (requirement);
  • is familiar with theories of technological change;
  • is familiar with scenario methodologies;
  • knowledgeable about mixed methods approaches;
  • experience with qualitative research and participatory observation;
  • familiar with network analysis and other quantitative social science;
  • experience with data management protocols and systems (qualitative/quantitative);
  • experience communicating and/or working with non-academic audiences (as projects oftentimes involve non-academic stakeholders;
  • willing to work in teams across different locations and multiple projects;
  • willing to travel for short periods of time.


  • To support the Deep Transitions project and MOTION project.
  • To develop socio-technical scenarios using the Deep Transition framework.
  • Conduct qualitative research on the implementation of climate change mitigation projects.
  • Support quantitative analysis of socio-technical transformations.
  • Conduct academic research.
  • Support the development and implementation of a data management system for a large project.


This is an appointment of 0.6 - 1.0 FTE for the duration of the projects (28 months). The appointment starts with a one year contract, subject of an evaluation the second contract period is released. The gross salary starts with a minimum of €2,709 and a maximum of €4,978 per month in the first year of employment (scale 10/11 according to the Collective Employment Agreement of the Dutch Universities) for a full-time employment.

Besides that, you will receive a holiday allowance of 8 % and a year-end bonus of 8.3 %. Utrecht University also has an appealing package of terms of employment, including the choice for a good balance between work and private (a good arrangement for leave, among other things), possibilities for development and an excellent pension scheme. More information on working at Utrecht University can be found here.

Over de organisatie

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability. 

The Faculty of Humanities encompasses the disciplines of history, art, philosophy, music, literature, language, religion and media. Our education and research are primarily aimed at contributing to a better understanding of the Netherlands and Europe in a rapidly changing social and cultural context.

The members of the Department of History and Art History use their knowledge of the past to better understand the challenges facing today's society. The future of Europe, the threat of terrorism, increasing inequality, new forms of citizenship, continuing globalisation, management of cultural heritage, the role of art in shaping identity, art as a political statement and the international aspect of Dutch art are all examples of themes we address. Research into these themes not only provides greater depth of academic knowledge, it also contributes to current debates concerning political and social challenges, culture and international relations.

Aanvullende informatie

For more information about this position, please contact Susanne Keesman MA, project manager, at Job interviews will take place on the 3rd and 5th of February and may initially take place via Skype depending on the location of the candidate.


Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives.
To apply, please send your curriculum vitae and a letter of motivation stating your interest for this position (1 page) via the ‘apply’ button below. We aim to fill the position with a start date of April the first.

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