PhD Researcher (f/m/x): Governance Monitor – Tracking and assessing governance narratives for sustainability transformations

Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)

Leipzig, Germany 🇩🇪

Place of work: Leipzig, mobile working possible

Working time: 65% (25,35 hrs per week). The job position is available for full-time or part-time employment.

Contract limitations: limited contract / 3 years , May 2023- April 2026

Salary: Remuneration according to the TVöD public-sector up to pay grade 13 including attractive public-sector social security benefits.


The Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) with its 1,100 employees has gained an excellent reputation as an international competence centre for environmental sciences. We are part of the largest scientific organisation in Germany, the Helmholtz association. Our mission: Our research seeks to find a balance between social development and the long-term protection of our natural resources.

The job

The UFZ will establish a Graduate School within its Research Unit “Environment and Society” on the topic: “Governance Monitor – Tracking and assessing governance narratives for sustainability transformations” The Graduate School consists of four PhD researchers. They will participate in a structured training program that facilitates integration and exchange among the different projects involved as well as within the larger UFZ research context. The PhD projects will develop a scientific basis for the comprehensive, long-term monitoring of political developments related to complex environmental issues, including the governance of bioeconomy, chemicals in the circular economy, and climate extremes. The advertised position is part of this Graduate School.

Your tasks

The successful candidate will collect and further develop approaches and methods for the long-term tracking of environmental governance narratives to assess how policies promote or hinder societal sustainability transformations. In particular, the candidate will collect theoretical and methodological approaches that allow a long-term tracking and evaluation of narratives within and beyond single policy fields. This collection will be based on literature review, scholarly expert interviews, as well as close exchange with the other PhD candidates in the Graduate School. The aim of the PhD project is to propose a theoretical heuristic with accompanying methods and data protocols to be used for a long-term tracking and assessment of narratives. In order to meet these project aims, the successful candidate will:

  • Analyse existing approaches and methods for the long-term monitoring of narratives and discourses,
  • Contribute to the theorizing on discourses and narratives in sustainability transformation,
  • Create peer-reviewed journal articles in collaboration with the research group and international partners,
  • Communicate and disseminate research results to diverse audiences, e.g. private sector, public sector, students, civil society.

We offer

  • Excellent technical facilities which are without parallel
  • The freedom you need to bridge the difficult gap between basic research and close to being ready for application
  • Work in inter-disciplinary, multinational teams
  • Excellent links with national and international research networks
  • Excellent support and optimal subject-specific and general training with our HIGRADE graduate school
  • Remuneration in accordance with the TVöD public-sector pay grade 13

Your profile

  • Very good university degree (Master, Diploma) in political/social science, human geography or natural resource management, environmental studies, sustainability science or comparable field with a strong emphasis on social questions
  • English language proficiency (CEFR level C1 or higher) and working knowledge of German
  • Prior engagement with theories & concepts from the areas of narratives/discourses/storytelling
  • Strong interpersonal skills and a desire to cooperate closely with the other members of the Graduate School
  • Excellent team work capabilities in a multidisciplinary, international team

The following experience is beneficial:

  • Experience in conducting social empirical research, discourse analysis in particular
  • Experience in environment or technology related social science research
  • Experience in publishing and presenting research findings in peer-reviewed journals and at scientific conferences

Experience within one or more of the fields of research: circular economy, bioeconomy, climate extremes.


Your contact for any questions you may have about the job:
Dr. Anran Luo, Department Environmental Politics
Phone: +49 152 3355 1082; E-Mail:
Please submit your application via our online portal with your cover letter, CV (please omit your photo, age, or marital status) and relevant attachments.





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