Research Assistant / Associate in the UKRI GCRF Water Security and Sustainable Development Hub

Newcastle University

Newcastle, , GB

The Role

We are seeking a dynamic and creative researcher to work on the socio-cultural values of water by co-producing knowledges about people’s experiences to help address the intractable challenge of global water security. The ideal candidate will have strong participatory and/or creative research skills, experience of international research, be able to develop a  research agenda based on the aims of the project and be highly collaborative.

This 48 month fixed-term post is part of the vibrant UKRI GCRF Water Security and Sustainable Development Hub team. You will be based in the School of Architecture Planning and Landscape but hosted in the School of Engineering working alongside other Hub researchers in this highly interdisciplinary team. The post includes travel opportunities with Hub partners in the UK, Colombia, Ethiopia, India, and Malaysia.

You will work within and be the key PDRA in Work Stream 4 which concentrates on social, cultural, spiritual, environmental and economic values. The researcher will work across and with all the collaboratories. The will work primarily in WP4.1 to look at how these values, knowledges and relationships are (or can be) expressed and communicated to various audiences. The researcher will also make large contributions to WP4.3 to synthesise literature on valuing water, to disseminate findings and work towards impact.

Global water security – ensuring a reliable and acceptable quantity and quality of water and managing water-related risks for all – is foundational to sustainable development. Water is essential for human life, but also necessary for food and energy security, health and well-being, and prosperous economies. Some 80% of the world’s population live in areas with threats to water security. Between 1990-2015 more than 1.6m people died, and 5.5bn people were affected by water disasters, causing direct damages of US$2.5tn; whilst some 61% of the global population still do not have access to improved basic sanitation and 28% do not have safe drinking water, resulting in over half a million deaths per year due to waterborne disease.

To address these challenges, we have brought together researchers from across the university’s three faculties, as well as partner universities Leeds and Oxford and collaboratories in Colombia, Ethiopia, India and Malaysia in the £17.7m Water Security Hub. Our research extends from developing low cost sanitation systems to improve water and environmental quality, including water quality sensors, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable communities to analysing regulations and governance structures, and to the social and cultural significance of water. We aspire to pioneer biological, environmental and digital technologies for global application, bringing the water sector into the 4th industrial revolution. To embrace social, cultural, spiritual, environmental and economic values; and reconcile these values in a just and equitable manner that ensures the human right to water.

Informal enquiries should be addressed to [email protected]

Key Accountabilities

  • Build relationships with people, community groups and organisations internationally.
  • Review literature on the multi-facated values of water.
  • Determine appropriate methodologies for co-producing knowledges about social-cultural values of water and/or the expression of relationships with water.
  • Develop research ideas and a research agenda in line with the hub’s aims and within the sphere of water security.
  • Assist in co-ordinating the research in Work Stream 4 inline with other research carried out across the Hub.
  • Carry out and facillitate research in the hub’s collaboratory areas.
  • Collaborate with researchers across the Hub.
  • Organise methods training and events to support Work Stream 4 across the Hub.
  • Communicate the findings of your research to other members of the Hub.
  • Report research findings from Work Stream 4 at annual Hub Assembly meetings.
  • Maintain accurate, secure, detailed and up-to-date records for all work carried out under the Water Security and Sustainable Development Hub, including working with established work plans and Hub logframes.
  • Disseminate social-cultural values of water through exhibitions, performances and other ouputs.
  • Develop publications for various audiences.
  • Work toward pathways to impact and within the Hub’s theory of change. 

The Person (Essential)

Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • Skills in participatory or collaborative research methods
  • Creative practice skills
  • Interdisciplinary research experience
  • International research/employment experience
  • Knowledge of water security, issues
  • Exhibition/performance curation skills
  • Potential to write high-quality publications
  • Languages relevant to the Hub collaboratories (desirable)
  • Experience of event organisation
  • Understanding of safeguarding policies in a development context
  • Digital media skills

Attributes and Behaviour

  • Collaborative team worker
  • Highly organised
  • Self-motivated
  • Excellent communicator
  • Willingness to travel internationally, including residential fieldwork
  • Ability to work flexibly according to the needs of the project
  • Encompass equality, diversity and inclusion in all work


  • PhD in relevant arts, humanities or social-science subject, or extensive equivalent relevant experience (for Associate Level)
  • Relevant undergraduate and postgraduate degrees





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