Two PhD positions: Ethics of urban resilience PhD1 and Ethics of climate adaption PhD2

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

Delft, Netherlands 🇳🇱

It is now widely accepted that climate change reguires both mitigation actions to reduce climate change and adaptation measures to cope with the effects of climate change, such as increased droughts, heat waves, heavy reainfall and flooding amongst others. In recent years, resilience has emerged as one of the leading paradigms for climate adaption policy, involving new responsibility arrangements between state and local actors, with more emphasis on the responsibilities of private citizens. The Ethics and Philosophy of Technology Section of the Technical University Delft is currently looking for two PhD-candidates fot the EUReCA (Etics of Urban Resilience & Climate Adaption) project.

PhD1: Ethics of urban resilience

The first project focuses on resilience in an urban context (“urban resilience”), as urban areas hold more than half the world’s population and most of its built assets and economic activities. Many of the key and emerging global climate risks are concentrated in urban areas. Recent literature on urban resilience suggests that resilience is increasingly becoming a contested concept. Despite the fact the concept lacks clarity due to theoretical inconsistencies and ambiguity in its use, definitions of resilience in policy uniformly portray urban resilience as a desirable goal. However, whether it is uniformly desirable has been problematized by research that questions the distribution of benefits and burdens under different resilience regimes. We might ask the questions, resilience to what?, resilience of what?, and even, resilience for whom?, in examining resilience-based policies and approaches. A growing number of scholars now recognize that, for climate adaptation to draw on and benefit in practical ways from a resilience approach, the appropriation and use of resilience to justify policy measures should be critically scrutinised, as they contain particular normative choices that are often not made explicit. This project aims to develop an ethics of urban resilience, with a focus on conceptual and normative questions. 

PhD2: Ethics of climate adaptation

The second project focuses on climate adaptation with the specific aim to develop an ethics of climate adaptation. This objective revolves around the question what people consider fair responsibility arrangements in climate adaptation. The candidate will analyze and compare different adaptation policies and see how these policies involve different responsibility arrangements between public and private actors, such as companies and citizens. A major gap in the literature is the lack of insight in how different responsibility arrangements impact on social justice and what the community characteristics are that may avoid or reduce the occurrence of injustices. This project’s focus is on empirically-informed normative questions. 


For the first PhD-position, we are looking for someone with a background in political philosophy/applied ethics, preferably complemented with a relevant empirical background, for example urban planning or geography.


For the second PhD-position, we are looking for someone with a dual background in philosophy and a relevant natural science or social science background, for example water management, urban planning, or science and technology studies.

Conditions of employment

TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package a discount for health insurance and sport memberships and a monthly work costs contribution. Flecible work schedules can be arranged. An International Children’s Centre offers childcare and an international primary school. Dual Career Services offers support to accompanying partners. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment; an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor; and a Doctoral Education Programme aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills. Please visit for more information.


Delft University of Technology

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) is a multifaceted institution offering education and carrying out research in the technical sciences at an internationally recognised level. Education, research and design are strongly oriented towards applicability. TU Delft develops technologies for future generations, focusing on sustainability, safety and economic vitality. At TU Delft you will work in an environment where technical sciences and society converge. TU Delft comprises eight faculties, unique laboratories, research institutes and schools.


Faculty Technology, Policy and Management

The Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management (TPM) develops robust models and designs, to solve the complex challenges of today’s networked society. TPM combines insights from the engineering sciences with insights from the humanities and the social sciences.

Additional information

For more information about the two positions, please contact Neelke Doorn via email: [email protected]. To apply, please send a detailed CV and a two-page proposal describing how you would undertake the research project. Since the aim is to have some cross-pollination between the work of the two candidates, we encourage you to include some ideas on how you plan to collaborate with the other PhD-candidate.

Application interviews will probably be held in the week of September 10-14 and/or September 17-21, 2018, and possibly a second round some weeks later. Applications should be sent by August 26, 2018 to [email protected]. Intended starting date is November 1, 2018.

When applying for this position, please refer to vacancy number ATTBM18.013. Clearly indicate for which of the two positions apply. If you apply for both positions, we also would like to receive two separate proposals on how you would like to undertake the respective projects.