Assistant Professor in Politics and Governance of Sustainability Transitions

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Amsterdam, Netherlands 🇳🇱

FTE: 0.8 – 1


Biodiversity loss, climate change and related socio-economic and public health challenges come with a need for institutional innovation. Sustainability transitions on the food-water-energy nexus that seek to address these challenges have a spatial dimension that is currently poorly integrated in public governance arrangements. At the Athena Institute of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam we invite applications for a full-time appointment as assistant professor in the Politics and Governance of Sustainability Transitions, specializing in spatially defined transformation processes in particular in the area of food and agriculture. Institutional innovation in view of sustainability transitions with a spatial dimension ask for transdisciplinary scholarship that explores new forms of policy action and design on a local, translocal and global scale, as well as new forms of policy-oriented knowledge production, challenging technocentric assumptions.  

Your duties:
 In this position you

  • need to empirically study processes of political and practical judgement and decision-making involved in sustainability transitions, and experimentally shape practices of institutional innovation in the realm of food, agriculture, nature and the environment with an explicit eye for their spatial dimension
  • develop research that is primarily experimental and transdisciplinary, with the aim of addressing societal challenges regarding the integration of social (including health), economic and environmental functions from area-based and translocal perspectives
  • display specific attention to questions of agency, power and justice
  • must be familiar with, or have a strong interest in becoming familiar with, research approaches such as STS Making & Doing; Interactive Learning and Action; Reflexive monitoring in action (RMA); and Situated Intervention, to ensure that issue-articulation and the exploration of solutions are developed in collaboration with a wide range of actors/stakeholders
  • are expected to collaborate with different colleagues in projects across a range of research themes
  • are expected to teach (40%  of the appointment) bachelor and master students in courses that are part of the Athena Institute’s transdisciplinary teaching portfolio, including acting as course coordination and thesis supervisor


  • A PhD in transition studies, political science, science, technology & society studies, participatory design, innovation studies, or a related (inter)discipline; an additional background in the natural sciences is a plus
  • Proven experience with experimental methods for the transdisciplinary study of public issues/challenges in the field of sustainable transformation; an eye for the spatial dimension involved is a plus
  • Experience with participatory research methods that co-create innovations and knowledge practices to address societal challenges in an equitable way, for instance in transition experiments or Living Labs
  • Experience with supporting or studying policy learning and innovation processes together with policy actors, for instance on local, national or EU levels
  • Proven ability to be a strong collaborator within interdisciplinary teams (listening, flexible, adaptive, pro-active)
  • Strong and relevant publication track-record, commensurate with the candidate’s career stage and complementing and extending the Athena Institute’s research portfolio
  • Experience with applying for research grants and externally funded projects and ability to meet deadlines and produce deliverables
  • Excellent teaching skills and the ability to inspire students (demonstrated through a.o. positive student evaluations)
  • teaching qualification (in Dutch BKO), or the willingness to obtain one;
  • An (inter)national network relevant to the position
  • Excellent command of both Dutch and English is imperative


A challenging career track position from Assistant Professor 2 to Assistant Professor 1 in a socially involved organization.
We offer 2 types of contract. For candidates already living in the Netherlands, we offer a permanent position after 18 months, after a successful evaluation in your 15th month. After a successful evaluation, a path will be outlined for future academic development.
To candidates that will reallocate from abroad we offer a second option next to the previous one. This will be a first (temporary) contract for the duration of 6 years. After 2 and 4 years the performance will be evaluated in terms of teaching, publication record, and acquisition of project funding (in addition to the annual assessment with your supervisor). After a successful evaluation permanent employment will be granted after 6 years and a path will be outlined for future academic development.

On full-time basis the remuneration amounts to a minimum gross monthly salary of €3,974 (scale 11) and a maximum €5,439 (scale 11), depending on your education and experience.
When promoted to Assistant Professor 1 the renumeration will be in scale 12.
The job profile Assistant Professor 2 is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 0.8 FTE.

Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • solid pension scheme (ABP)
  • possibility to save holiday hours, for sabbatical leave
  • child daycare facilities available on campus


The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 30,000 students. We employ over 5,500 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science
The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to more than 11,000 students.

Athena Institute, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences
The position is offered within the Athena Institute, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences. The institute’s mission is to study and design interfaces between science and society to contribute both to a deeper understanding of innovation processes as well as a responsible implementation of research and innovation in society. Athena’s research program amongst other focuses on analysing complex global health challenges, designing interventions and conducting participatory monitoring and evaluation research. The section presently has a position vacant for a Postdoc/Lecturer.
For more information about the Athena Institute visit our website


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until 15/08/2022. Applications will be reviewed starting mid-August, 2022, and this will continue until the position is filled.
Please include in the application a cover letter, curriculum vitae, writing sample (fifteen to thirty pages), brief teaching statement, and an item that gives us a sense of you as a teacher (e.g. syllabus, assignment, etc.), as well as the names and contact information for three references.

Informal enquiries about the post should be directed in the first instance to dr. Anne Loeber via e-mail: [email protected]
All enquiries will be treated informally and confidentially and will not be considered in the selection decision. Formal criteria for appointment at the level of assistant professor are available upon request but minimally include having completed a PhD and having 10 international peer reviewed publications.”

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.
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