Two PhD Candidates Responsibility Arrangements in Resilience Policy for Climate Adaptation

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Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)
Delft, Netherlands
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The Ethics/Philosophy of Technology Section of Delft University of Technology offers two positions for PhD students as part of the research project ‘Responsibility arrangements in resilience policy for climate adaptation’. The project is supported by an NWO Vidi Grant and will be conducted by Professor Neelke Doorn (PI) and 2 PhD candidates. A detailed description of the project can be requested.

Climate change increases the risk of extreme weather events, such as heavy rainfall and droughts. Under the header of resilience, citizens are increasingly expected to take responsibility and to transform their own community into a climateresilient living environment. However, this gives rise to pressing ethical questions that have not yet been addressed in the academic literature. The aim of the project is to investigate under what conditions these new responsibility arrangements can be justified, as arrangements may differ in their ethical acceptability as well as their effectiveness.

PhD-project 1: Responsibility arrangements and social justice

Resilience policy is often said to involve new responsibility arrangements between central government, local actors, and citizens, but it is not clear how responsibility should be conceptualized and what different types of responsibilities we should distinguish in order to fully capture all the relevant tasks and roles in these new arrangements. The aim of this PhD-project is twofold. The first aim is to develop a taxonomy of different types of responsibility in resilience policy. The second aim is to investigate the ethical justifiability of different responsibility arrangements in terms of social justice. 

PhD-project 2: Agent-based modelling of responsibility arrangements 

This PhD-project will create an agent-based model to simulate different responsibility arrangements. It will investigate what the different resilience arrangements expect from citizens and what citizens need to act accordingly, e.g. in terms of resources and information, but also in terms of community characteristics, such as cohesion, familiarity with other community members. The main aim of this project is to study the effectiveness of empirically traced responsibility arrangements under different conditions. Additionally, this project will identify patterns of responsibility arrangements that score high on both social justice and effectiveness.

Both projects involve empirical as well as philosophical investigations into the phenomena of resilience and responsibility.


For the first PhD-position, we are looking for someone with a background in applied ethics/political philosophy, preferably complemented with a relevant empirical background, for example urban planning or geography. 

For the second PhD-position, we are looking for someone with strong conceptual skills, for example through a background in philosophy or artificial intelligence, and experience in agent-based modelling or a willingness to acquire agent-based modelling skills. 

The candidates will carry out doctoral research which will lead to a dissertation, and will also produce relevant publications. The candidates will participate in the Graduate School of TU Delft and in PhD program of the 4TU.Centre for Ethics and Technology. When applying please indicate in which position(s) you are interested; if you have the required background, you can apply for both positions. The candidates will also be involved in the teaching activities of the department.


The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, a discount for health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. Coming to Delft Service organizes diverse events for new international employees and their accompanying partners, like Partner Career Workshops and Dutch Culture Workshops. Located on campus are the International Children’s Centre and an international primary school which are subject to availability as well as several bilingual schools in the nearby surrounding. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities. 

As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment; an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor; and a Doctoral Education Programme aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills. Please visit for more information. 


Technische Universiteit Delft

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) is a multifaceted institution offering education and carrying out research in the technical sciences at an internationally recognised level. Education, research and design are strongly oriented towards applicability. TU Delft develops technologies for future generations, focusing on sustainability, safety and economic vitality. At TU Delft you will work in an environment where technical sciences and society converge. TU Delft comprises eight faculties, unique laboratories, research institutes and schools. Within TU Delft, the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management (TPM) contributes to sustainable solutions for technical challenges in society by combining the insights from engineering with the humanities and the social sciences.


Faculty Technology, Policy and Management

The Department of Values, Technology and Innovation (VTI) focuses on the value dimension of comprehensive engineering, the overarching research theme of TPM. It uniquely comprises philosophers, economists and risk scholars. It studies how to develop and diffuse responsible technological innovations that reflect deeply held social and moral values. The department is one of the largest groups in the world studying value aspects, economics and risks for a wide range of sociotechnical systems. The department plays a leading role nationally and internationally in research in responsible innovation and value-sensitive design. 

The Ethics and Philosophy of Technology section is one of three sections within the VTI Department. The section plays a central role worldwide in research on ethics and philosophy of technology. The section participates in the 4TU.Centre for Ethics and Technology, a centre of excellence and the world-leading centre in the ethics of technology. The research of the section covers a broad spectrum, ranging from applied research in collaboration with engineering scholars, experimental and empirical ethics in collaboration with social scientists, and foundational research in meta-ethics, risk theory, methodology, ontology and philosophy of science, technology and design. The ethics research programme focuses specifically on design for values, risk ethics, and responsible innovation.


For more information about the two positions, please contact Neelke Doorn via email:  .

Application procedure

To apply, please send a motivation letter, a CV, a two-page proposal describing how you would undertake the research project, and a writing example (for example, your master thesis or an excerpt thereof). Since the two PhD-projects have mutual dependencies, we encourage you to include some ideas on how you plan to collaborate with the other PhD-candidate. 

Application interviews will probably be held in the weeks of 30 September – 4 October and 7 – 11 October 2019 (tentative dates: 1, 4 and 8 October 2019), and possibly a second round some weeks later. Applications should be sent by 17 September 2019 to  . Intended starting date is 1 January 2020. 

When applying for these positions, please refer to vacancy number ATTBM 19.015. Clearly indicate for which of the two positions apply. If you apply for both positions, we also would like to receive two separate proposals on how you would like to undertake the respective projects. 

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