PhD: Tracing socio-economic resilience of nature-based flood risk management projects

University of Twente

Enschede, , NL

Job description

This 4-year fully-funded PhD position is part of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) grant “Crossing the borders at the Grensmaas” carried out in collaboration with several academic institutions and societal partners in the Netherlands.


As The Dutch main water systems face pressing environmental, economic and societal challenges due to climatic changes and increased human pressure. There is a growing awareness that nature-based solutions (NBS) provide cost-effective solutions that simultaneously provide environmental, social and economic benefits and help to build resilience. While substantial knowledge on ecological and geological processes is accumulating, we still have scattered understanding of societal and economic processes related to NBS. Hence, identifying key principles fostering societal support, economic viability of NBS and their impacts on socio-economic resilience is essential. The project team addresses this critical knowledge gap using the largest river restoration project of the Netherlands, the Border Meuse (Grensmaas), as a Living Lab.

Job description

This PhD research project aims to understand how changes in land use patterns driven by NBS and flood hazards that grow with climate change influence households’ socio-economic choices. By taking the complex adaptive systems perspective, we explore the role of major flood events and NBS – such as the prominent Dutch ‘Room for Rivers’ approach – in shaping individual risk perceptions. We focus on behavioral aspects of economic choices that households make on where to live and how to adapt, and on dynamic opinion dynamics models regarding evolving risks and acceptability of NBS. By means of spatial agent-based models the project aspires to explore the dynamics of socio-economic resilience and its consequences for the governance of flood risk management and climate change adaptation policy. During this 4-year long project, the PhD student will build up on the latest progress in urban agent-based modeling and extend it further by introducing opinion dynamics among stakeholders. This modeling effort will benefit from the behavioral data elicited via tailored household surveys and behavioral experiments (carried out by another team member) and spatial data. The spatial agent-based model will be used to analyze how NBS affect stakeholders with and across communities residing in flood-prone areas. The computational agent-based model with empirical data on behavioral traits will be used further to run scenarios relevant for on spatial climate change adaptation policies.

Your profile

  • Master’s degree in Spatial Economics, Environmental Science, Geography, Complex Systems Science, Computational Science or related fields;
  • Strong background in quantitative methods and statistical analysis;
  • Programming skills (Java, Python, C++ or other languages);
  • Previous experience with agent-based modeling or any type of spatial modeling is beneficial;
  • Domain knowledge in the field of coupled social-environmental systems, land use change/urbanization, and climate change adaptation is an advantage. Basic understanding of complex system theory is an asset;
  • Fluent spoken and written English;
  • Ability to work independently as a researcher and effectively in a team. 


For more information on this position please contact Prof. T.Filatova e-mail: [email protected], web:

To apply for this position, please fill in the online application form, including (1) your motivation letter, (2) your CV (with the contact details of 2 referees) and (3) a list of publications (if applicable). You may also wish to go directly to and select the current position from the list.

Our offer

As a PhD candidate you will be appointed on a full-time basis for a period of four years. The gross monthly salary for a PhD increases from € 2.325 per month in the first year to € 2.972 per month in the final year (in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities). In addition to the attractive salary that comes with generous social security benefits, the position offers the tuition waiver and the conference travel budget. Our Graduate Research School provides a structured PhD program (clear planning, supervision agreements and career development and support). The successful candidate will work directly with Prof. Tatiana Filatova and will have a chance to collaborate with other PhDs and PostDocs the CSTM Department and the international colleagues leading in this domain.

Starting date: March 1st 2020. The position will remain open until filled.

The organization

The University of Twente. We stand for life sciences and technology. High tech and human touch. Education and research that matter. New technology which leads change, innovation and progress in society. The University of Twente is the only campus university of the Netherlands; divided over five faculties we provide more than fifty educational programmes. We have a strong focus on personal development and talented researchers are given scope for carrying out groundbreaking research.

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our company. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status or disability status. Because of our diversity values we do particularly support women to apply.

Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social sciences
The Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social sciences (BMS) strives to play a pivotal role in understanding, co-engineering and evaluating innovation in society. Innovation is driven by advances in technology. Through ‘social engineering’ these technological advances are embedded in society befitting human needs and behaviour, within proper public and private management and business structures. For this the faculty of BMS upholds high quality disciplinary knowledge in psychology, business administration, public administration, communication science, philosophy, educational science and health sciences. All with a focus on the challenges in society. Research is strongly connected to our institutes: Mesa+ Institute, TechMed Centra and Digital Society Institute.