Postdoctoral Fellow on Social-Ecological Scenarios

Stockholm Resilience Centre

Stockholm, Sweden 🇸🇪

Project description
The Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation Research Exchange Program onNatural Capital, Resilience and Biosphere Stewardship is a research and scientific leadership program in sustainability science. It is jointly hosted by Stanford University and the Stockholm Resilience Centre and supports leading young scholars operating at the knowledge frontiers on management and governance of natural capital, resilience, and the biosphere. The Program on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS), is a Future Earth core-project that is hosted by the Stockholm Resilience Centre. PECS aims to integrate research on the stewardship of social–ecological systems, the services they generate, and the relationships among natural capital, human wellbeing, livelihoods, inequality and poverty.

The selected candidate will be part of the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation Research Exchange Program onNatural Capital, Resilience and Biosphere Stewardship and PECS, and work in an international and interdisciplinary team based in Stockholm, South Africa and California.

The global social–ecological system is changing rapidly. Global changes from human activities include profound alterations of ecosystems and the services they provide to humanity. Human social systems are challenged in developing effective management and governance systems for dealing with the situation. At the same time, we have increasing evidence that living natural capital – Earth’s lands and waters, and the biodiversity they embody – has tremendous, but often unrecognized, value that need to be factored into decision-making to ensure long-term sustainability. We also understand that resilience – the capacity of a system to adapt or transform in the face of dramatic change – is essential for this goal.

A central challenge of managing the resilience of social-ecological systems is posed by slowly unfolding dynamics and considerable uncertainty about future pathways. Scenarios are plausible stories about how the future of a social-ecological system might unfold from existing patterns, new factors, and alternative human choices. A scenario is a coherent, internally consistent, and plausible description of a potential future trajectory of a system. Scenario development exercises aim at articulating multiple alternative futures in a way that spans a key set of critical uncertainties, integrates stakeholder views and uses qualitative and quantitative methods and data.

InVest is a well‐developed and widely applied suite of models for different types of ecosystem services, typically using the spatial extent and configuration habitat or land use as predictors of ecosystem services production. It has been continually developed and expanded by the Natural Capital Project since 2006.  The toolkit includes over sixteen distinct InVEST models suited to terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems.  InVEST’s modular design provides an effective tool for exploring the likely outcomes of alternative management and climate scenarios and for evaluating trade‐offs among sectors, services, and beneficiaries. These models are best suited for identifying spatial patterns in the provision and value of environmental services on the current landscape or under future scenarios, and trade‐offs between management scenarios.  Feedbacks are not explicitly built into the model structure, but are taken into account during the process of project scoping, model building, and implementation.  Scenario planning can be used to explore the consequences of expected changes and social‐ecological feedbacks.  

The goal of this postdoc is to advance and integrate scientific understanding of how scenario planning can be combined with InVest, or other, ecosystem service models to promote social-ecological transformations. Scenario planning can be an important tool in social-ecological transformations because it forces people to think explicitly about alternative situations, consider key uncertainties and create an understanding that a different order of things is possible.

Main responsibilities
Working with an international team to:

  • Assess research to critically review and assess the effect of scenarios in building resilience,
  • adaptive capacity and transformative capacity across multiple case studies and
  • develop new ways of combing scenario planning methods with ecosystem services modelling in a social-ecological context.

Specific tasks:

  • Develop framework for comparative analysis of multiple case-studies that have applied participatory scenario exercises.
  • Carry out structured review of participatory social-ecological scenario exercises to identify their strengths and weaknesses
  • Development a set of scenario planning practices that can be used to improve the use of InVest family of ecosystem service models.

Qualification requirements
Researchers are appointed primarily for purposes of research and must hold a Swedish doctoral degree or an equivalent degree from another country.

Assessment criteria
The degree should have been completed no more than three years before the deadline for applications. An older degree may be acceptable under special circumstances, which may involve sick leave, parental leave, clinical attachment, elected positions in trade unions, or similar.

In the appointment process, special attention will be given to:

  • Broad background in Sustainability Science
  • Experience and awareness of scenario exercises
  • Knowledge of social-ecological resilience & transformation
  • Experience in comparative case analysis
  • Ability to take initiative and work independently and as part of a team
  • Record of publications in scientific journals
  • Ability to design, manage, and help lead workshops

Terms of employment
The position involves full-time employment for a maximum of two years, with the possibility of extension under special circumstances. Start date as per agreement.

Stockholm University strives to be a workplace free from discrimination and with equal opportunities for all.

Further information about the position can be obtained directly from SRC staff.
General SRC information: Managing director, Olof Olssson [email protected]
Specific research associated with this postdoc: Albert Norström mailto:[email protected]), and Garry Peterson [email protected]

Union representatives
Anqi Lindblom-Ahlm (Saco-S) and Lisbeth Häggberg (Fackförbundet ST), telephone: +46 8 16 20 00 (operator), and [email protected] (SEKO).

Apply for the position at Stockholm University’s recruitment system by clicking the “Apply” button. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the application is complete in accordance with the instructions in the job advertisement, and that it is submitted before the deadline.

Please include the following information with your application

  • Your contact details and personal data
  • Your highest degree
  • Your language skills
  • Contact details for 2–3 references

and, in addition, please include the following documents

  • Cover letter, outlining your suitability for the post and indicating how you would approach the position (max 2 pages).
  • CV – degrees and other completed courses, work experience and a list of publications
  • Copy of PhD diploma
  • Letters of recommendation (no more than 3 files)
  • Publications in support of your application (no more than 3 files).

The instructions for applicants are available at: Instructions – Applicants

You are welcome to apply! 

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Closing date: 26/10/2016