PhD on Nature-based Living Lab Outcomes and Learning

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

Delft, Netherlands 🇳🇱

Job description

Would you like to undertake research on learning from nature-based living labs? Do you want to contribute to a resilient climate-proof future for the Dutch sandy soil landscapes? Then you could be the ideal candidate to join our team!

In the CASTOR (Catchment Strategies Towards Resilience): Dutch Pleistocene Landscapes in the Anthropocene’ project, we seek nature-based approaches for pathways towards climate-resilient land and water systems together with stakeholders. A key innovation is combining complex adaptive systems approaches with living lab arrangements. Your research will evaluate and map the outcomes of nature-based living labs in the sandy landscapes in the east of The Netherlands. You will adopt a pilot project lens, complemented by policy analysis evaluation frameworks and theory on innovation, knowledge development and learning in transdisciplinary environments, to determine the effects of the living labs. Your research will be guided by two questions:

  1. What is the role of living labs in policy and practice related to nature-based water and landscape management?
  2. How can we strengthen learning from living labs and enhance their contributions to landscape and water management adaptation practice?

Your methods will include interviewing stakeholders involved in the living labs, as well as the formulation of a systems model on learning from such living labs. The model will be tested and validated with stakeholders and researchers involved in the community of practice associated with past and ongoing living labs. You will not be responsible for initiating living labs, but will participate within existing multidisciplinary, multi-stakeholder living lab communities. Strategies to strengthen the learning effects will be sought and may be trialed. A particular focus will be how learning effects can be scaled up to enhance landscape management and climate resilience.

Your PhD project forms part of the ‘CASTOR (Catchment Strategies Towards Resilience): Dutch Pleistocene Landscapes in the Anthropocene’ project, which is funded through the NWA program of the Dutch Research council NWO. CASTOR is a collaborative and interdisciplinary project in which the Delft University of Technology works with other universities (WUR, UTwente), research institutes (Deltares, WENR, KWR), water boards, drinking water company Vitens and the ministry of Infrastructure and Water management. Six researchers will be employed for the project (two post-doc, four PhD candidates), supported by a diverse team of academic staff members (ranging from policy analysis, modelling and governance, to integrated water management and soil geography). 


You are intrigued by the interactions between science and society and the role that nature-based solutions and explorative learning spaces like living labs can play in addressing climate change challenges. You enjoy engaging with a diversity of people, and look forward to deepening the theoretical and model-based understanding of social learning and adaptation processes in relation to water and landscape management.

You have:

  • A master’s degree in Policy Analysis, Environmental Science, Geography, Water Management, Education or other relevant domain.
  • Knowledge of learning in social-ecological or socio-technical systems.
  • Good modelling skills (System Dynamics, ABM) or willingness to acquire such skills.
  • Willingness to engage in interviewing a range of stakeholders to derive insights on learning in Living Labs.
  • An interest in nature-based approaches to addressing climate change challenges.
  • Self-motivation, curiosity, and are open to exploring new concepts in a multi- disciplinary team.
  • Excellent communication skills and verbal and written proficiency in English (shown by a TOEFL of 100 and/or IELTS of 7.0 per part).
  • Proficiency in Dutch (considered an advantage).

Conditions of employment

TU Delft offers PhD-candidates a 4-year contract, with an official go/no go progress assessment after one year. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2434 per month in the first year to € 3111 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation.

TU Delft (Delft University of Technology)

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context. At TU Delft we embrace diversity and aim to be as inclusive as possible (see our Code of Conduct). Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. 

Challenge. Change. Impact!  

Faculty Technology, Policy and Management

With its excellent education and research at the intersection of technology, society and policy, the Faculty of TPM makes an important contribution to solving complex technical-social issues, such as energy transition, mobility, digitalisation, water management and (cyber) security.
We combine insights from the engineering sciences, the social and the humanities. We develop robust models and designs, are internationally oriented and have an extensive network with knowledge institutions, companies, social organisations and governments.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management.

Additional information

The PhD candidate will be part of the Policy Analysis section of the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management. The PhD candidate will be supervised by Dr. Jill Slinger and Dr. ir. Heleen Vreugdenhil.

Further information on the position is obtainable from [email protected]

Application procedure

Please submit your application online no later than October 8, 2021, You can only apply via the application button ‘Apply now’. Applications sent to one of the mentioned email addresses will not be processed.

To apply, please submit the following:

  • An application/motivation letter (max 2 pages)
  • A complete curriculum vitae, including a list of publications

A pre-employment screening can be part of the application procedure.





IHE Delft Institute for Water Education - MSc in Water and Sustainable Development