Postdoctoral Fellow on Social-Ecological Scenarios

Stockholm Resilience Centre

Stockholm, , SE

The Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation Research Exchange Program on Natural Capital, Resilience and Biosphere Stewardship is a research and scientific leadership program in sustainability science. It is jointly hosted by Stanford University and the Stockholm Resilience Centre and will engage top young scientists that will gain experience in problem-oriented, interdisciplinary collaboration in sustainability science and go on to become leaders in this field. In particular, this research program builds upon the interdisciplinary research of the Natural Capital Project and the Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS).

The Natural Capital Project (a partnership among World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, the University of Minnesota, and Stanford University) develops practical tools and approaches to account for nature’s contributions to society, so that leaders worldwide can make smarter decisions for a more sustainable future ( PECS, is a Future Earth core-project, hosted by the Stockholm Resilience Centre, that aims to coordinate global research on the stewardship of social–ecological systems.

The selected candidate will be part of the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation Research Exchange Program on Natural Capital, Resilience and Biosphere Stewardship and work in an international and interdisciplinary team based in Sweden, South Africa and the USA.

Project description
There is growing recognition that actions to enhance natural capital and the supply and reliability of ecosystem services are urgently needed at local, regional, and global scales. But in a rapidly changing world, such initiatives cannot succeed without investing in social-ecological resilience. Resilience is the capacity of social-ecological systems (i.e. interdependent and linked complex systems of people and nature) to persist, adapt, and transform in the face of change.

A central challenge of managing the resilience of social-ecological systems is posed by slowly unfolding dynamics and considerable uncertainty about future pathways. A powerful tool for envisioning what the future can and might hold for ecosystem services in a social-ecological context, is the creation of scenarios. Scenarios are plausible stories about how the future of a social-ecological system might unfold from existing patterns, new factors, and alternative human choices. Importantly, scenarios have been used to explore, identify and analyze alternative futures in a way that addresses uncertainties both through improving social capacity to consider and shape the future and identify resilient policies.

The use of scenario planning for ecosystem services and transformation of social-ecological systems is ripe for improvement. For example, by better incorporating models of ecosystem services in the scenario planning process. InVEST is a well‐developed and widely-applied suite of models to map and value different types of ecosystem services. InVEST has been continually developed and expanded by the Natural Capital Project since 2006, is downloaded an average of 600 times per month, and has active users in over 80 countries worldwide. Its modular design provides an effective tool for exploring the likely outcomes of alternative management and climate scenarios and for evaluating trade‐offs among sectors, services, and beneficiaries. InVEST models are well suited for identifying spatial patterns in the provision and value of ecosystem services on the current landscape or under future scenarios, and trade‐offs between management scenarios.

The goal of this postdoc is to advance and integrate scientific understanding of how social-ecological scenario planning can integrate ecosystem service models, such as InVEST. Members of the NatCap team have worked with decision-makers worldwide to create scenarios that can then be compared with tools such as InVEST, but each time it is done in an iterative process. We are hopeful that this collaboration can formalize some lessons learned from resilience work and from engagements in decisions to bring the cutting edge of academic thinking on this subject into best practices. 

Main responsibilities
The successful candidate will working with an international team to:

  • Critically review and assess the effect of scenarios in building resilience, adaptive capacity, and transformative capacity across multiple case studies
  • Develop new ways of combing scenario planning methods with ecosystem service modelling in a social-ecological context.

    Specific tasks
  • Conceptual work, e.g., develop a framework for comparative analysis of multiple case-studies that have applied social-ecological scenario exercises.
  • Empirical analysis of social-ecological scenario exercises to identify their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Developing a set of scenario planning practices that enable InVEST to better assess the resilience of ecosystem services within a social-ecological context.
  • Preparing and delivering of project workshops.
  • Preparing articles to be published in international academic journals.

Qualification requirements
Researchers are appointed primarily for purposes of research and must hold a Swedish doctoral degree or an equivalent degree from another country.

Assessment criteria
The degree should have been completed no more than three years before the deadline for applications. An older degree may be acceptable under special circumstances, which may involve sick leave, parental leave, clinical attachment, elected positions in trade unions, or similar.

In the appointment process, special attention will be given to:

  • Broad background in Sustainability Science
  • Experience and awareness of scenario exercises
  • Knowledge of social-ecological resilience & ecosystem services
  • Ability to take initiative and work independently and as part of a team
  • Record of publications in scientific journals
  • Experience designing and leading workshops
  • Prove experience working in interdisciplinary teams
  • Very good English language communication skills.

Terms of employment
The position involves full-time employment for a maximum of two years, with the possibility of extension under special circumstances. Start date as per agreement.

Stockholm University strives to be a workplace free from discrimination and with equal opportunities for all.

Further information about SRC can be obtained directly from Managing Director, Olof Olssson, [email protected], and about specific research associated with this position from Albert Norström, [email protected], and Garry Peterson, [email protected].

Union representatives
Anqi Lindblom-Ahlm (Saco-S) and Lisbeth Häggberg (Fackförbundet ST), telephone: +46 8 16 20 00 (operator), and [email protected] (SEKO).

Apply for the position at Stockholm University’s recruitment system by clicking the “Apply” button. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the application is complete in accordance with the instructions in the job advertisement, and that it is submitted before the deadline.

Please include the following information with your application

  • Your contact details and personal data
  • Your highest degree
  • Your language skills
  • Contact details for 2–3 references

and, in addition, please include the following documents

  • Cover letter, outlining your suitability for the post and indicating how you would approach the position (max 2 pages)
  • CV – degrees and other completed courses, work experience and a list of publications
  • Research proposal (no more than 3 pages) describing:
    – why you are interested in the field/project described in the advertisement
    – why and how you wish to complete the project
    – what makes you suitable for the project in question
  • Copy of PhD diploma
  • Letters of recommendation (no more than 3 files)
  • Publications in support of your application (no more than 3 files).

The instructions for applicants are available at: Instructions – Applicants

You are welcome to apply! 

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Closing date: 23/01/2017