ESR/PhD: Climate Adaptation and Socio-Spatial Planning: Waterways

Utrecht, Netherlands 🇳🇱

Research project hosted by Rijkswaterstaat (RWS), Department Large projects and Maintenance in Utrecht.

RWS is part of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and responsible for the design, construction, management and maintenance of the main infrastructure facilities in the Netherlands. This includes the main road network, the main waterway network and water systems. RWS involves regional and local authorities, market parties and the civic environment in its planning processes. To achieve national objectives in the field of sustainability and mobility, new modes of working and innovation are necessary. Therefore, RWS initiates innovations in her projects and programs and builds communities for the renewal and development of areas, in co-creation with relevant stakeholders. RWS is looking for a researcher at the Department Large Projects and Maintenance in Utrecht.


Funded by the European Commission (2018-2022), RECOMS is comprised of a transdisciplinary consortium of scientists, practitioners and change agents from eleven public (universities and government research centres), private and non-profit organisations, located in six European Union countries: Austria, Belgium, England, Finland, Germany and The Netherlands. The purpose of RECOMS is to train 15 ESRs/ doctoral candidates in innovative, transdisciplinary and transformative approaches to promoting and facilitating resourceful and resilient community environmental practice. By delivering an advanced programme of training in both scientific and professional skills, RECOMS will enable ESRs to pursue an academic career or high-professional career in either the public, private or third sector (e.g. government, university, NGO, consultancy, business or charitable body). For further information on RECOMS, inclusive of the full network of 15 ESR doctoral positions currently open for recruitment see:


The recruited ESR will be engaged in a series of collaborative research and training activities and will be supported in pursuing a doctoral study project. If you are highly motivated; inspired by learning and undertaking innovative research, thinking and knowledge exchange across disciplines, institutional boundaries and wider society; and wish to be part of an advanced, international, network of creative change agents specialising in resourceful and resilient community environmental practice; then this ESR/PhD vacancy could be the ideal appointment for you.

Co-supervised by academic and non-academic partners, the RECOMS ESR will be encouraged to critically, practically, and creatively explore the contribution and relationships between their individual doctoral study projects across three interconnecting research themes:

  • empowering and unlocking the potential of vulnerable communities to become more resourceful
  • strengthening the adaptive and transformative capacity of local groups through resourceful environmental practice as critical to building community resilience
  • encouraging a more just and inclusive approach to stimulating community resourcefulness by nurturing broader participation in resourceful environmental practices.

A core feature of the RECOMS programme – both with respect to informing the design and delivery of all the training, as well as enabling and maximising opportunities for knowledge exchange through research and associated outputs – will be the incorporation of a broad range of visual and creative research methods and modes of communication.

The following position is now open for application within the Netherlands. Research project hosted by Rijkswaterstaat, Department Large Projects and Maintenance (GPO) in Utrecht:

ESR 7. Climate Adaptation and Socio-Spatial Planning: Waterways

Full title: Climate adaptation through socio-spatial planning of waterways

Dutch government is experimenting on a large scale with innovations and creative solutions in the field of smart mobility and sustainability i.e. circular economy in construction, climate adaptability, energy reduction and issues concerning liveability. It specifically focusses on finding new solutions for upcoming challenges in mobility, water systems and climate change in close cooperation with relevant stakeholders. One of the challenges is to combine different functions like recreation, water management, nature, culture and mobility in an overall climate adaptive solutions in what is called ‘opgavegericht werken’, i.e. looking for smart combinations. Solutions and innovations are being developed in co-creation with market parties, public authorities, regional and civic society groups. Several methods of social design are and will be tested to involve these parties and to combine challenges. For example, in the field of circular economy and energy living labs are already erected. Experimental projects offers an ideal study ground for social design, integrated landscape design, strategic stakeholder involvement along with other methods of market and civic engagement. Further it offers a learning community for innovation and innovation management and the way this can be combined with societal objectives for climate adaptation and sustainability.

Expected Results:
Learning community for action research in the field of social design and stakeholder engagement; Living Lab case study.

Candidate specification

  • applicants MUST – at the start date of the employment contract [1 September 2018] – be an ‘early stage researcher’: they must be in the first four years of their research career and NOT have a doctoral degree
  • at the time of appointment by RWS applicants MUST NOT have resided in or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the Netherlands for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to their recruitment. Short stays, such as holidays, are not taken into account.


  • applicants must have an MA/MSc degree in a relevant discipline, e.g. spatial planning, geography, sociology, policy administration, or related social science discipline
  • excellent English language proficiency both orally and in writing to derive the full benefit from the network training. An IELTS English language test will be required, achieving an overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component)
  • research experience in the field of the specific ESR position
  • knowledge of and/or experience in collaborative approaches to sustainable resource management
  • knowledge and experience of qualitative research methods.

Additional requirements

  • in accordance with the mobility goals of Marie Curie Innovative Training Networks, appointed candidates will be required to visit other network partners for secondments, and attend research and training events for the network. Whilst the individual training events will require one-two weeks travel only, the secondments (which will be hosted by the consortium institutions) will each require a residence of three months. All eligible costs will be fully funded by the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions programme
  • candidates should possess a strong affinity with the RECOMS topic, be motivated to practice multi- and transdisciplinary forms of research inquiry and action-learning, and wish to gain a broad and advanced range of scientific and professional skills
  • candidates should understand the aims, rules and procedures of MSCA Innovative Training Networks
  • candidates should have an interest in engaging with, applying and receiving training in visual and creative methods and forms of communication. Whilst evidence of direct prior experience is desirable, it is not essential
  • the ability to work as part of a team and the ambition to engage in participatory and collaborative forms of research and learning are essential
  • candidates will be expected to mainly work under supervision but also taking full delivery responsibility for individual tasks.


RWS offers a salary of € 2,222 gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 2,709 gross per month in the third and final year, based on a full-time position (1.0 FTE), excluding a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income and a 8.3% end-of-the-year bonus.
In addition to individual scientific projects, the ESR will benefit from research collaboration within the RECOMS network, extensive joint training opportunities, and collaboration with non-academic organizations.

How to apply
You may apply for this position until 1 March 23:59 / before 2 March 2018 (Dutch local time) by means of the application form (click on “Apply” below on the advertisement on the University website).

Please submit your application in English.

Applicants are permitted to apply for a maximum of three positions from across the total 15 RECOMS ESR vacancies. For information on all the ESR positions hosted inside and outside The Netherlands see:

Applicants are required to submit:

  • a full CV
  • a motivation letter (maximum 2 pages)
  • the names of two referees (to be called upon should you be short-listed)
  • proof of eligibility as an annex where relevant, including a) proof that you have no more experience than 4 years as a researcher, b) proof that you did not spend more than 12 months in the last 3 years in the Netherlands, and c) proof of English language proficiency.

Please make a separate application for each position to which you are applying*. Multiple applications will not influence the selection chance in any particular project. Please mention on every application all ESR projects to which an application is being submitted.

By submitting an application, the candidate is consenting to their application being shared with the Selection Committee and the RECOMS coordinator. If you are short-listed for interview, please note the interview panel will consist of the host and non-host institution RECOMS partners. Your application will be available to all panel members from submission for the purpose of assessing your suitability for the post.

[*Please take care to ensure that applications for individual ESR/PhD positions are submitted directly to the respective host institutions – only applications for the positions hosted by RUG/RWS should be submitted via the RUG recruitment portal]

Additional information
Note: short-listed candidates will be invited for an interview during April/May 2018. Where candidates are short-listed for an interview they will be required to prepare a short doctoral study project research plan. Further information will be provided at the point of announcement of short-listing.

Start date: 1 September 2018
Duration: 36 months (fixed term)

Frequently asked Questions: Research section assets/Research/CAWR/recoms/Recruitment/FAQ.pdf
General information about the Marie Sklodowska Curie (MSCA) Innovative Training Network programme:

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.


Voor informatie kunt u contact opnemen met:

Prof. L.G. Horlings, Professor Socio-Spatial Planning (general information on these positions),   [email protected]

Wim Leendertse, RWS (for further information on the individual PhD position),   [email protected]

Extra informatie

General information about the RECOMS programme and the 15 ESR Fellow vacancies
Overview of RECOMS Training Programme
Overview of the RECOMS Project