PhD Researcher WEF Post Longue Durée - Remediating Extractive Urbanism

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

Delft, Netherlands 🇳🇱

We are looking for a driven, motivated and outstanding PhD researcher interested in sustainability transitions and resilience in general and in the field of extraction landscapes in particular. 

Job description

Delta Urbanism Interdisciplinary Research Group, part of TU Delft’s Department of Urbanism, jointly with the History of Architecture and Urban Planning Group in the Department of Architecture and the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus PortCityfutures research center, are seeking to expand their teams with a PhD researcher interested in urban Water-Energy-Food (WEF) systems, social sciences and environmental innovations at their intersections with scientific understanding and insights the history of the environment as mean to create a sustainable future. The doctoral researcher will be part of the WEF POST LONGUE DURÉE research project and thus connected to an international research consortium based in South Africa and the Netherlands. The researcher will also engage in other activities in the field of research and education.

The reclamation of post-extraction landscapes is a global issue and intertwined with the WEF nexus. This project proposes the concept of ‘ecosystem participation’, which is explored as a combination of Longue Durée and Reversed Engineering with Nature, as a tool for highlighting, preserving and repurposing post-extraction landscapes in relation to the WEF nexus. The aim is to create a research and design community, theoretical foundation, methodological approach and learning matrix in which the spatial dynamics and Longue Durée interactions between water, energy, and food are analysed in extractive and post-extractive contexts to inform an interdisciplinary vision for sustainable futures. The project is co-funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and the South African National Research Fund (NRF) through the Merian Fund cooperation programme.

The aim of the research connected to the PhD position is to develop a conceptual and methodological framework to explain the longue durée of water and food security, energy transitions and ecosystem health, based on systemic urban analysis. Next, the research will develop an integrated methodology for redesigning these landscapes with a conscious new use of technology. The research will respond to relevant research gaps in sustainability transitions, resilience and adaptive design literatures, addressing the following main research questions: What are the defining elements of a dynamic equilibrium ecosystem participation that can sustain an environmentally, economically and socially resilient future in post-extractive landscapes in general? What are the component ingredients for a strategy of ecosystem participation to search/ design/ deliver a new, dynamic and responsive balance between the resources of water, energy and food in the post-extractive landscape? 

The main objectives of the PhD research position are:

  • Developing a conceptual and methodological framework.
  • Analysing the technical knowledge on extraction landscapes with the specific focus on “reverse engineering with nature”, engineering with nature to the transitioning of mining sites, environmental (soil/resource) rehabilitation.
  • Conducting field research and workshops in South Africa and collaborating with other PhD researchers in the larger project.
  • Publishing research findings in scientific journals, international conferences.

The research will be jointly supervised by an experienced and collaborative team comprising of members from both TU Delft and Wits University. 


The successful applicant will have an excellent academic track record, a completed M.Sc., M.A. or equivalent university degree, and demonstrated capacity for interdisciplinary scientific research. We encourage candidates with a background in Urban Design and Landscape Architecture to apply.

An affinity with sustainability transitions, the concept water-energy-food nexus, extraction landscapes systems, historical representation and inter – and transdisciplinary research are highly desirable. Ideally, the candidate has first-hand experiences working with theories of sustainability transitions, ecosystem participation, reversed engineering with nature and systematic spatial analysis. The candidate should be able to understand the societal contexts of environmental problems and posses writing/presentation skills that help create narratives and synthesise outcomes.

The project requires traveling to the South African case study cities. The candidate should be proficient in English (both writing and speaking) on a C1 CEFR level (or equivalent), and willing to collaborate and travel internationally.

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 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! 

The Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment

The Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment has a leading role in education and research worldwide. The driving force behind the faculty’s success is its robust research profile combined with the energy and creativity of its student body and academic community. It is buzzing with energy from early in the morning until late at night, with four thousand people studying, working, designing, conducting research and acquiring and disseminating knowledge. Our faculty has a strong focus on ‘design-oriented research’, which has given it a top position in world rankings.

Staff and students are working to improve the built environment with the help of a broad set of disciplines, including architectural design, urban planning, building technology, social sciences, process management, and geo-information science. The faculty works closely with other faculties, universities, private parties, and the public sector, and has an extensive network in the Netherlands as well as internationally.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment.

Additional information

The position will remain open until January 9, 2022 (local Dutch time: UTC time + 2 hrs.). You must apply via the ‘Apply now’ button. Application via email will not be processed.

For more information about this vacancy, please contact Dr. F.L. (Fransje) Hooimeijer,
E-mail: [email protected].  

For information about the application procedure, please contact Caro Coemans HR advisor,
E-mail: [email protected]

Application procedure

To apply submit the following documents:

  • Full CV, including an overview of your academic background, and prior project or research activities (if applicable).
  • A letter of motivation, specifying the candidate’s experiences and motivations for this position (in English); including a second page stating two references (names + contact details). It is recommended to include a short explanation of the relationship between the candidate and the suggested referee (i.e. supervisor, work together, acted as teaching assistant).
  • A summary of the candidate’s master’s (or equivalent university) thesis also highlighting key insights from the thesis work (maximum length 1 page A4).
  • A completed self-assessment of current CEFR level or your level of proficiency in English language. If available: results of taken language tests in English (e.g. IELTS, TOEFL), including copies of certificates.

Please note:

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