Doctoral Position in Social Sciences
University of Antwerp Faculty Social Sciences

Department: Department of Political Science
Regime Full-time

Let’s shape the future - University of Antwerp

The University of Antwerp is a dynamic, forward-thinking, European university. We offer an innovative academic education to more than 20000 students, conduct pioneering scientific research and play an important service-providing role in society. We are one of the largest, most international and most innovative employers in the region. With more than 6000 employees from 100 different countries, we are helping to build tomorrow's world every day. Through top scientific research, we push back boundaries and set a course for the future – a future that you can help to shape. 

The research group Politics & Public Governance and the GOVTRUST Centre of Excellence are looking to fill a full-time appointment.

A Ph.D. researcher (100% scholarship m/v) for a Horizon Europe project about robust governance of crises in Europe.

Are you interested in studying how the EU, different national governments, and local actors reacted and adapted to big crises like the COVID 19 crisis, the financial crisis, and the refugee crisis? How do these actors use expert and lay information to make decisions, and how can we make these actors more proactive in governing such crises well? We are looking to hire a new Ph.D. researcher to help study these aspects. The successful applicant will conduct research within the project ‘Robust Crisis Governance in Turbulent Times – Mindset, Evidence, Strategies’ (ROBUST), financed by the European Commission (Horizon Europe).

Managing severe and unexpected crises in turbulent times poses significant challenges to public governance, which call for robust crisis governance. The ROBUST research consortium, led by the University of Roskilde, consists of ten partner institutions from across Europe investigating how European societies can harness flexible adaptation and proactive innovation to deliver effective crisis responses and how democratic institutions can uphold core values such as democracy, the rule of law, and fundamental rights in the face of crisis-induced turbulence. By studying three recent crises (the financial, refugee, and COVID-19 crises), the ROBUST project aims to set in motion a paradigm shift from ‘resilience’ (‘bouncing back’) to ‘robustness’ (‘building back better’) as the central principle of future crisis governance. In doing so, the project contributes to restoring society’s trust in governance responses and democratic processes. Furthermore, the project relies heavily on mutual learning and co-creation with various societal stakeholders.

The University of Antwerp will study (1) how policy, science, and the public can learn and make judgments that are based on reason when confronted with crises and (2) how the EU and governments design, mix and adapt their policies and measures during crises and how this affects the way society supports these measures.

About us

The research group Politics & Public Governance (P&PG) is part of the Department of Political Science (Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Antwerp). P&PG studies how politics and public governance respond to (a) the increasing diversity of citizens and society and (b) the multi-level and multi-actor nature of policymaking and policy implementation. By combining a political science and a public administration perspective, our research wants to understand the nature of contemporary politics and public governance, its causes, effects, and, ultimately, its democratic legitimacy. To this end, P&PG studies political and public governance institutions, their evolution, and how institutional mechanisms shape actors’ scope of action, positions, decisions, and behaviour. Public administration research at the University of Antwerp is ranked 20th (1st in Belgium) on the Global Shanghai Ranking for PA 2021.

P&PG is also part of the GOVTRUST Centre of Excellence (University of Antwerp), an interdisciplinary research consortium focusing on “Trust and Distrust in Multi-level Governance.” GOVTRUST combines the high-level scientific expertise of three faculties (Law, Social Sciences, and Economics) and five disciplines (political science, communication science, law, behavioural economics, and public administration) to jointly conduct frontline interdisciplinary research on the dynamics, causes, and effects of trust and distrust in multi-level governance systems. In particular, GOVTRUST studies the trust relations between political, administrative, regulatory, and judicial actors as well as trust in and of citizens and society.


  • Conducting research leading to a Ph.D. on how the EU, governments, and local actors make sense of and learn from crises, design, mix and adopt measures and policies to deal with the crises, and the effects on democracy and fundamental values.
  • Contributing to the research design, data collection, data analysis, and reporting of research findings
  • Reporting findings through publishing scientific articles in international journals, resulting in a doctoral thesis.
  • Collaboration with the international partners in the ROBUST project and, during the subproject, assisting in the coordination of UAntwerp’s work package
  • Participation in the international public governance research society and the presentation of findings at national and international conferences


  • You hold a Master's degree in Public Administration, Public Management, Political Sciences, Sociology, Law, Social-economic Sciences, or another relevant field. Students in the final year of their degree can also apply.
  • You can submit outstanding study results.
  • You are quality-oriented, conscientious, creative, efficient, and cooperative, and you are sufficiently entrepreneurial to structure and complete a research project in time.
  • You are strongly motivated to research the public sector and have good capacities for analysis and synthesis in social science research.
  • You know how to apply (quantitative or qualitative) research methods in social sciences. Knowledge about or experience in statistical analyses or case study methodology is an asset.
  • You have strong communication and presentation skills. You should be able to work independently but also as part of a team.
  • You have an excellent knowledge of Dutch and English.
  • Your research qualities are in line with the faculty and university research policies.

What we offer

  • A doctoral scholarship for three years (1 year, with renewal for a further two-year period after a positive evaluation, a further extension to 4 years possible). The intended start date of the scholarship will be from November 1st, 2022 onwards but no later than March 1st, 2023.
  • Your monthly scholarship amount is calculated according to the scholarship amounts for doctoral scholarship holders on the pay scales for Contract Research Staff (Dutch: Bijzonder Academisch Personeel, BAP).
  • You will work at the UAntwerp City Campus in a dynamic, stimulating, and professional work environment in the research group Politics & Public Governance and the interdisciplinary team of the GOVTRUST Centre of Excellence.
  • You will receive substantive and methodological training and the possibility of an international research stay at one of our partner universities.
  • Find out more about working at the University of Antwerp here.

Want to apply?

  • You can apply for this vacancy through the University of Antwerp’s online job application platform up to and including August 15th, 2022 (by midnight Brussels time). Click on the 'Apply' button, complete the online application form and be sure to include a copy of your academic CV and a cover letter.
  • A pre-selection will be made from amongst the submitted applications. The remainder of the selection procedure is specific to the position and will be determined by the selection panel.
  • The selected candidates are invited for an interview. The interviews will take place in September 2022.
  • If you have questions about the online application form, please check the frequently asked questions or email
  • For questions about the profile and the description of duties, please contact Prof. Koen Verhoest ( or Wouter Van Dooren (

The University of Antwerp received the European Commission’s HR Excellence in Research Award for its HR policy. We are a sustainable, family-friendly organisation which invests in its employees’ growth. We encourage diversity and attach great importance to an inclusive working environment and equal opportunities, regardless of gender identity, disability, race, ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation or age. We encourage people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse characteristics to apply.

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