PhD Position Environmental Politics - Techniques of Futuring “Thirsty Cities: Pathways for Water-Resilient Urban Transformation and Agricultural Adaptation.”

Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)

Leipzig, Germany 🇩🇪

The Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) with its 1,100 employees has gained an excellent reputation as an international competence centre for environmental sciences. We are part of the largest scientific organisation in Germany, the Helmholtz association. Our mission: Our research seeks to find a balance between social development and the long-term protection of our natural resources.

The UFZ will establish a Graduate School within its Research Unit “Environment and Society” on the topic: “Thirsty Cities: Pathways for Water-Resilient Urban Transformation and Agricultural Adaptation.” The Graduate School consists of engaged PhD-researchers who will participate in a structured training-program that facilitates integration and exchange among the different projects involved as well as within the larger UFZ research context. The projects will investigate possible pathways to make cities and adjacent rural areas more resilient to future water scarcity. Within this framework the Department of Environmental politics is now offering a

PhD Position Environmental Politics – Techniques of Futuring

Part-time 65% (25,35 h per week), limited to 3 years

Your tasks:

The candidate will produce scientific evidence for building resilience to water shortage in urban areas by conducting policy-relevant research on the following topics:

  • Exploration how the scientific projections of water scarcity can be translated into visions and actionable pathways for policy-making in response to heatwaves and droughts in urban areas and how they can actually be used by different local agencies and actors (such as urban planners, municipal networks, administration and NGOs on the demand side) to inform policymaking and to develop local pathways for water-resilient urban transformation.
  • Empirical study investigating how projections of water scarcity including concepts such as co-developed transformation and water vulnerability scenarios can be tailored to information needs of local governments, businesses and other actors in two case studies in Germany. Moreover, the PhD candidate will examine how these tools can be integrated into the actors’ assessment and planning practices as well as complemented by alternative knowledge sources.


  • Review of the state of research
  • Translation of modelling and scenario results for local target groups
  • Implementation of case studies in two German cities
  • Networking and Engagement with local communities in Leipzig and Berlin
  • Exploring pictures of the future in cooperation with local actors
  • Scientific evaluation of these case studies
  • Publication of results and integration into the project synthesis

Your profile:

  • Master’s degree in political science, sociology, Science and Technology Studies or related disciplines
  • Proficiency in English; proficiency in German would be beneficial
  • Basic knowledge in interpretative (policy) analysis is of added advantage
  • Interest in both qualitative and quantitative research methods (e.g. expert interviews, surveys,
  • stakeholder engagement and experimentation with novel approaches)
  • Motivation to work in an interdisciplinary environment, also in cooperation with modellers and natural scientists

We offer:

  • Top level interdisciplinary research at a research centre which enjoys an excellent reputation within Germany as well as internationally
  • Excellent technical facilities
  • Work in inter-disciplinary and multinational teams
  • Excellent links to national and international research networks
  • Support and optimal training courses by our graduate school (HIGRADE)
  • Remuneration in accordance with the TVöD public-sector pay grade up to 13