Postdoctoral researcher: water and climate governance

Utrecht University

Utrecht, , NL

Job description

Utrecht University has opened a new two-year postdoc position with the research specialization “water and climate governance”. This position will be affiliated with the Environmental Governance group, one of the four sections of the university’s Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development. The Environmental Governance group is a dynamic, ambitious and internationally leading team of researchers with a focus on fundamental and policy-oriented research on environmental governance, from local to global levels. The Copernicus Institute conducts cutting-edge research on relations between humans and the environment; environmental policy in the context of sustainable development; energy and resources; and the management of innovation.

The postdoctoral researcher will undertake cutting-edge research on water and climate (adaptation) governance as well as develop competitive research proposals in this field. New grant proposals will target, among others, individual research grants from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, the European Research Council and similar funding agencies. Contributions to proposals for major research consortia are also envisioned. Research topics that could be relevant are, amongst others, flood risk management, coping with extreme weather events, urban water management, and regional and local climate adaptation strategies, all with a focus on the associated governance challenges. Governance challenges investigated in our group include questions of broader institutional settings, normative principles, appropriate policy instruments, stakeholder engagement and public-private partnerships. By writing competitive proposals that address these challenges, the postdoc will contribute to the group’s overall effort to assess which modes of environmental governance contribute to sustainable development, combined with questions of normative, critical governance evaluation and governance transformation.

Successful candidates will have a strong profile on water and climate related issues as well as innovative ideas on future research lines. These future research lines should be embedded in relevant bodies of literature; the empirical research should have an international focus. We expect that candidates are able to present their ideas on future research in a short essay and discuss this with the selection committee.


Successful candidates will:

  • hold a doctoral degree (PhD) in Environmental Studies, Sustainability Sciences, Political Science, Public Administration, Sociology or a related social science discipline;
  • have at least two – three years of research experience at post-doctoral level;
  • have a proven affinity with environmental governance research in a European or global context, especially concerning water and climate related issues;
  • have innovative ideas on future research lines;
  • have a proven expertise in quantitative and/or qualitative research;
  • have interest in and experience with multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research approaches;
  • have published at least eight papers in highly ranked international scientific journals, including some single-authored papers;
  • be well connected to relevant academic partners as well as to stakeholders in society;
  • have excellent communicational skills and be a team player.

We offer a temporary position as postdoctoral researcher for one year, with an extension of a second year subject to performance and funding. The starting date is 1 March 2017 at the latest. Employment conditions are based on the Collective Labour Agreement of the Dutch Universities. The gross monthly salary is dependent on qualifications and experience and will start between € 3,068 and € 4,028 per month (scale 10). The salary is supplemented by a holiday allowance of 8% per year and a year-end bonus of 8.3%. We also offer a pension scheme and flexible employment conditions. Candidates who transfer to the Netherlands from abroad may apply for a 30% rebate on their income tax with the Dutch tax authorities if certain conditions apply.

About the organization

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

Utrecht University’s faculty of Geosciences offers education and research concerning the geosphere, biosphere, atmosphere and anthroposphere. With 2,200 students (BSc and MSc) and 500 staff, the faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The faculty is organised in four departments: Earth Sciences, Physical Geography, Innovation, Environmental & Energy Sciences and Human Geography & Urban & Regional Planning.

The vacancy has been opened within the department of Innovation, Environmental & Energy Sciences. The research of the department is organised in the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development. The institute consists of four research groups (Environmental governance; Innovation Studies; Environmental Sciences; Energy and Resources) and has been evaluated in a 2014 international review as the highest ranked research institute in environmental sciences in the Netherlands. Since then, the institute has intensified its efforts in maintaining its leading position, among others by investing in several new international faculty appointments and by developing new, internationally oriented teaching programmes.

Utrecht University has been ranked in the 2015 Academic Ranking of World Universities as the best university in the Netherlands, and as one of the leading research universities in Europe. The University is committed to a strategic orientation on four overarching themes, which include Sustainability. The postdoctoral researcher who is now being hired will thus be able to develop his/her career at this main strategic theme of the university, opening up numerous opportunities for university-wide interaction and support. The city of Utrecht is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, with a charming old centre and an internationally oriented culture that is strongly influenced by its century-old university. Utrecht city has been consistently ranked as one of the most liveable cities in the Netherlands.

Additional information
For informal inquiries you can contact Prof Peter Driessen: [email protected].


To apply you can click the button below. Please attach your motivation for the position, a 2-page essay about your research ideas and future research plans, a cv, and the names and e-mail addresses of at least two referees.

The application deadline is