Foundation Chair (Part-Time) in the History of Sustainable Development

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Amsterdam, Netherlands 🇳🇱

Job area: Professor

Educational Level: Postdoc

VU unit: Faculty of Humanities

Contract type: Temporary with prospects to extension

Maximum FTE: 0,2

Maximum salary scale: Professor by special appointment

The Vrije Universiteit is seeking applications for its new part-time, unpaid Chair in the History of Sustainable Development. We are looking for candidates interested in reflecting with students on the history of human-nature relations from a perspective of sustainable development for the future.

FTE: 0.2 


The Unger-Van Brero Foundation has established a chair at the Vrije Universiteit in the History of Sustainable Development in order to study the history of human-nature relations from a global and longue durée perspective, that is, a comparative perspective mindful of the exchange of ideas, people and goods on a global scale. The new chair is intended to develop a new direction building on existing traditions of environmental history.
The appointee will contribute to the development of the history of sustainable development, particularly the relationship between economy and sustainability within and beyond the Netherlands. An example of the sort of approach we are looking for is a history of energy transition that attends to historical alternatives to fossil fuels, the reasons why they gained little traction, relations to colonial rule, and consequences of their dominance for agriculture, economy, and society.
Today, the concept of sustainability includes shorter production and consumption chains, reduction of waste, and recycling. The remit of the chair includes the history of these ideas. Another relevant subject is environmental injustice: which social groups have been disadvantaged by pollution and by changes caused by energy, water, and food transitions? How has this contributed to social and economic inequality within and across societies?

Your duties
The appointee is expected publish in leading academic journals; to supervise doctoral dissertations and, where appropriate, contribute to the soliciting of external research funding; and to teach subjects related to his or her research in the English-language undergraduate Global History and International Relations programme and the new interdisciplinary Environmental Humanities track within the research master’s programme.


  • Completed PhD in history, preferable environmental, social, or economic history
  • Broad demonstrable expertise in the history of raw material scarcity, climate change, sustainable technologies, sustainable economic policy, sustainable energy production and/or energy, water, and food transitions
  • Excellent research achievements demonstrated in high-standard publications
  • Experience in soliciting external research funding
  • Experience teaching at the undergraduate and master’s level; preferably in possession of a teaching qualification (Dutch BKO or equivalent)
  • Ability to teach in English; command of Dutch is an advantage; other languages are a plus


A challenging position in a socially involved organization.  The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 0.2 FTE.
The appointment will be made for five years. The chair does not carry a salary and is primarily intended for scholars with a primary appointment at a research institution or another university. An allowance of €7,500 per year is available to defray costs associated with the chair, including teaching buyouts at the occupant’s primary place of work. It is expected that the occupant will be available for teaching and research consultations for one day a week on average.


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.

Faculty of Humanities
The Faculty of Humanities links a number of fields of study: Language, Literature and Communication, Art & Culture, History, Antiquities and Philosophy. Our teaching and research focus on current societal and scientific themes: from artificial intelligence to visual culture, from urbanization to the history of slavery, from ‘fake news’ in journalism to communication in organizations. We strive to ensure small group sizes. Innovative education and interdisciplinary research are our hallmarks.

Working at the Faculty of Humanities means making a real contribution to the quality of leading education and research in an inspiring and personal work and study climate. We employ more than 350 staff members, and we are home to around 2,000 students.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until 15/02/2023.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Prof. dr. Petra van Dam
Telephone: +31 20 59 86434

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IHE Delft MSc in Water and Sustainable Development