PhD Position in Political Science
Utrecht University

PhD Position in Political Science


Job description
The Urban Futures Studio (UFS), a section of the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, is opening a PhD position in the field of sustainability and democratic participation, focusing on the role of emotions. As PhD candidate, you will join a team exploring how policymakers can better engage citizens in the process of environmental policymaking. The project forms a significant part of the European Commission Horizon funded project “Climate, Inequality, and Democratic Action: The Power of Political Emotions” (CIDAPE), which brings together partners in nine European countries.  

Guided by supervisors with many years of experience in similar projects, you will be expected to take a lead in designing the research; gathering and analysing data; developing an alternative engagement process; writing articles for peer review; speaking at consortium events and conferences; and planning and attending a European “rail trip” to showcase findings and research audience responses in the nine partner countries: the Netherlands, Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Norway, Slovakia, and Spain.

The wider CIDAPE project draws on a range of research methods to explore the connection between climate emotions and inequality emotions. The UFS work package adds the angle of participation emotions, proposing that the way citizen participation is designed is crucial to facilitating positive emotional responses. You will have Dr Timothy Stacey as first supervisor, Dr Jesse Hoffman as second supervisor, and distinguished professor Maarten Hajer as promoter. You will draw on your supervisors’ expertise in dramaturgy, ritual, and participation to develop an innovative theoretical framework for studying citizen engagement. You will subsequently explore at least three forms of sustainability-related citizen engagement. It is assumed that the empirical focus will be the Netherlands, but there is room for negotiation. Finally, you will work with the team to design your own engagement format.  

As PhD candidate, you will also receive systematic training from the Graduate School of Geosciences through various research-related courses and mentoring.

You are our ideal candidate if you have:
  • a strong knowledge of at least one of the following (and preferably all three): citizen participation, sustainability, emotions;
  • a good understanding of cultural or poststructural approaches to social scientific research (emphasising the role of, for example, discourse, narrative, ritual);
  • an interest in methodological innovation (and particularly in “research by design”, “living labs”, or “real-world experiments”;
  • fluency Dutch and English.  
We further expect you to be an excellent communicator, and to enjoy working as part of an international team with multiple, ongoing projects. We want you to become part of the team, and to contribute to its intellectual agenda. As PhD candidate, you must spend 10% of your time contributing to teaching, which will aid in your career development. You will most likely teach tutorials in at least one of the following fields: futuring, dramaturgy, or culture, as these relate to sustainability.


We offer:

  • a position (1.0 FTE) for 1 year, with an extension to a total of four years upon successful assessment;
  • a full-time gross salary between €2,770 in the first year and €3,539 in the fourth year of employment in scale P of the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities;
  • 8% holiday bonus and 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave, and flexible employment conditions based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities.
In addition to the employment conditions from the CAO for Dutch Universities, Utrecht University has a number of its own arrangements. These include agreements on professional development, leave arrangements, sports and cultural schemes and you get discounts on software and other IT products. We also give you the opportunity to expand your terms of employment through the Employment Conditions Selection Model. This is how we encourage you to grow. For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University.

About the organization

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 strategic themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Pathways to Sustainability. Sharing science, shaping tomorrow.

Utrecht University's Faculty of Geosciences studies the Earth: from the Earth's core to its surface, including man's spatial and material utilisation of the Earth - always with a focus on sustainability and innovation. With 3,400 students (BSc and MSc) and 720 staff, the faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The Faculty of Geosciences is organised in four Departments: Earth Sciences, Human Geography & Spatial Planning, Physical Geography, and Sustainable Development.

The Urban Futures Studio explores sustainable and meaningfully democratic futures, and ways to get there. We investigate what we call ‘futuring’ - the social creation of the (imagined) futures that direct collective action. As a transdisciplinary institute, we collaborate with policymakers, activists, artists, and students to enable alternative futures. It is a team of approximately 15 members but also collaborates with other sections of the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development.

Additional information
For more information about this position, please contact Dr Timothy Stacey (researcher at Urban Futures) at or +31 (0) 6 33 50 68 05.

*Note to recruitment agencies: Please refrain from contacting us regarding this job posting.


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, including a letter of motivation, via the ‘apply’ button.

The application deadline is

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