PostDoc on ‘Conditions shaping transformational climate change adaptation’

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

Delft, Netherlands 🇳🇱

Job description

Societies have always been adapting to changing environments. As hazards intensify in frequency and severity with climate change, adaptation strategies that proved successful in the past face limits. This is especially relevant for floods and sea level rise, which increasingly call for transformational adaptation – new radical grand changes in societal responses to hazards. However, transformational adaptation is more disruptive, more expensive in the short-run, and less socially-acceptable compared to incremental adaptation. The ambition of the VIDI project is to provide new insights into social tipping points in adaptation to changing climate, and to develop datasets and modeling methods to account for a shift from incremental to transformational adaptation in policy assessments.

This PostDoc position focuses on the systematic analysis of narratives in historic, anthropological, sociology and public administration literature about large disasters in the past, and participatory literature on current views and potential responses to anticipated future floods. The goal is to identify socio-economic factors, conditions, and feedbacks that enable transformational changes in societies in response to environmental shocks. This systematic review will catalogue core socio-economic factors and processes differentiating between incremental and transformational societal responses to hazards. Given that this literature is vast and largely qualitative, the conventional systematic review will be complemented with AI-powered methods for an automated content analysis. Furthermore, the PostDoc will pursue an in-depth analysis of several case-studies of transformational societal responses to floods in the Netherlands and USA to elicit the necessary and sufficient conditions that shape social tipping points. The PostDoc researcher could also engage in co-supervision of two PhD students that join the VIDI team shortly after.

You will be part of the Policy Analysis Section in the Department of Multi-Actor Systems at the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management. The Department hosts about 100+ scholars with policy analysis and computer science background specialized in coupled socio-technical-environmental systems. The Policy Analysis Section balances qualitative and quantitative approaches, and is very active in the newly launched Delft Climate Action Program


The ideal candidate will possess the following:

  • PhD degree in History, Anthropology, Sociology or Public Administration. We would also consider candidates with a PhD degree in Environmental or Computer Sciences and interests in the above mentioned social sciences;
  • Preparedness to apply existing text mining methods for automating the analysis of literature is an advantage as is experience with programming (e.g. Python, Java, C++ or other language);
  • Domain knowledge in the field of water management, climate change or flood risk policy is an asset;
  • Solid problem-solving skills and capacity to take the initiative;
  • Ability to work well within a multidisciplinary team;
  • Proven excellent written and verbal English communication skills (do mention three of your key publications in the motivation letter).      

Conditions of employment

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities. The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, a discount 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. An International Children’s Centre offers childcare and there is an international primary school.

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

For more information about this vacancy, please contact prof.dr. Tatiana Filatova, VIDI Principal Investigator: t.f[email protected]. Additional information about the team:

For more information about the application procedure, please contact Erika van IJperen-Fijma, email: [email protected]

Application procedure

To apply for the position, please submit a CV and a motivation letter, together with the names of 3 referees. Please apply before 29-11-2021 via the application button.

  • You can apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.
  • A pre-Employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.
  • Acquisition in response to this vacancy is not appreciated.





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