PhD position Transforming towards open and Inclusive Climate Sciences

Utrecht University

Utrecht, Netherlands 🇳🇱

HOURS PER WEEK: 36 to 40

FACULTY: Faculty of Geosciences



Job description

Are you interested in the way we produce knowledge on climate change? Are you curious about identifying what knowledge, and whose knowledge prevails within climate science, and how this shapes research practices, or influences policy options resulting from knowledge production? Are you able to work with different data sets and keen to explore the consequences of the underrepresentation of scientific data collection in tropical regions? Are you eager to collaborate with Global South partners to co-produce solutions to transform academic practices towards inclusive and open climate science?

At the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, we have a full-time four-year PhD position available to examine these questions. This position offers opportunities and expertise from both the Environmental Sciences and Environmental Governance sections within the Copernicus Institute. Through this research, the PhD researcher will embark on interdisciplinary research that aims to document the marginalization of climate scientists and knowledges from tropical countries in the Global South, while highlighting the importance of independent tropical data to support global assessments. 

Specifically, the PhD researcher will systematically analyze geographical representation of tropical countries in the Global South in scientific knowledge production on climate science across the research cycle, from data generation to scientific analysis and publication output. Using a postcolonial conceptual frame, the PhD researcher will then identify the causes that explain the geographical imbalances in scientific knowledge production and shed light on the practices and legacies of coloniality in knowledge production. Geographical biases are also apparent in the relatively small number of measurement stations for studying cycling of carbon and water in tropical ecosystems. The PhD researcher will perform quantitative model analysis to assess the importance of these tropical measurements for better understanding the regional and global cycling of carbon and water. Finally, building on the analytical elements of the research, the PhD researcher will identify best practices for inclusive and open climate science. 

The PhD researcher will be responsible for employing a mixed-methods approach, consisting of large-n quantitative statistical analyses and a pantropical multiple case study including countries from different tropical countries and with different levels of development. The aim of the fieldwork is to explore the local research practices for producing knowledge and identify barriers to open and inclusive climate science.

This PhD position will be based at Utrecht University, The Netherlands. The position includes extensive fieldwork in selected tropical countries in the Global South.


For this project we are looking for an enthusiastic candidate with an interdisciplinary profile, including a background in environmental or climate sciences and political science or a related field, and an interest in power dynamics within the production of knowledge on climate change. The PhD researcher should have experience with qualitative and quantitative research skills (interviews, content and/or discourse analysis, statistical analysis). Experience with (or an interest in)
programming (e.g., Python, R) is an asset. 

We are open to candidates from different backgrounds with a broad range of skills; a strong motivation to learn new methods and do research in meaningful and authentic collaboration with Global South partners is important. 

Fluency in English is required; fluency in one or several other languages (e.g., Bahasa Indonesia, Spanish, Swahili, Portuguese) is an asset. Preference will be given to candidates who have experience with Global South contexts, including organizing and conducting fieldwork. All are encouraged and welcome to apply and will be considered.


You will be offered a temporary position (1.0 FTE), initially for one year with an extension to a total of four years upon a successful assessment in the first year, and with the specific intent that it results in a doctorate within this period. The gross salary ranges between €2,541 in the first year and €3,247 in the fourth year of employment (scale P according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) per month for a full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% per year.

In addition, Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions 

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, including an attractive retirement scheme, (partly paid) parental leave and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University 

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About the organisation

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 strategic themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

Utrecht University’s Faculty of Geosciences studies the Earth: from the Earth’s core to its surface, including man’s spatial and material utilisation of the Earth – always with a focus on sustainability and innovation. With 3,400 students (BSc and MSc) and 720 staff, the faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The Faculty of Geosciences is organised in four Departments: Earth Sciences, Human Geography & Spatial Planning, Physical Geography, and Sustainable Development.

The research will be carried out within the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development 

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 at Utrecht University. This institute aims to have a positive impact on the transition to a sustainable society. We do this by developing excellent and relevant knowledge and by educating change agents of the future. We collaborate with citizens, politicians, policy-makers, NGOs and firms to learn from each other and influence decision-making. We work in interdisciplinary teams and have organised our research around three cross-topical themes and five sustainability challenges. The themes, governance, modelling and transitions, represent our signature and cover central aspects of sustainability research and policy. The five topical sustainability challenges, circular economy, sustainable energy, sustainable food, sustainable land and sustainable water, highlight our research strengths. The PhD candidate will work within two of the main research sections of the Copernicus Institute: Environmental Sciences & Environmental Governance.

Additional information

For more information about this position, please contact: Dr Gerbrand Koren 

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 (Assistant Professor), via with a copy to Dr Carole-Anne Sénit 

external link at external link and Dr Pita Verweij external link at external link.


Everyone deserves to feel at home 

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 at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. 

To apply, please send your curriculum vitae, including a letter of motivation via the ‘apply’ button.

To allow equal opportunities for applicants from different parts of the world, interviews are planned to take place online in the second half of April.

The application deadline is 31 March 2023.





IHE Delft MSc in Water and Sustainable Development