Assistant Professor Urban Futures Studio Tenure Track Position (0.8 - 1.0 Fte)

Utrecht University


September 14, 2021


Assistant Professor Urban Futures Studio tenure track position (0.8 - 1.0


Job description

At the Urban Futures Studio, you will actively contribute to the further development of the Urban Futures Studio into an academically innovative and societally relevant institute. You work to deliver innovative insights, intertwined with collaborating in new transformative policy practices. In conversation with the UFS Team, you study existing ways in which futures are performed, for instance by policy makers or in society. You investigate the techniques of futuring in use and report on your findings, both in peer- reviewed articles and via media that can reach selected target audiences. Within the established UFS interest in futuring, you are welcome to suggest and contribute to new lines of inquiry – we are always happy to hear new ideas. We are looking to strengthen our understanding of our four core topical interests:

  • the relationship between democracy and the sustainability transition;
  • the collective imagination and its change;
  • reimagining the relationship between science and policy;
  • and, recombining techniques of futuring for sustainability transition.
  • You contribute to our teaching portfolio on futuring. In addition to regular courses, we are in the process of setting up a new experimental form of education: the Academy of Hope. This will be a novel programme in which professionals and Master's students work together on the active engagement with the future. You are also interested in collaborating with academics, policymakers, and other parts of society.

    Possible lines of inquiry include:

  • How do imagined futures travel from presentation and performance to policy?
  • How can we (empirically/conceptually) enrich our understanding of the performance of futures and techniques of futuring?
  • How can we further connect our work to authority, legitimacy, justice, and democracy?
  • How can we further develop an interdisciplinary futuring agenda, including art, education, literature, and policy?
  • How can we connect our work on futuring to a new pedagogy oriented towards interventions in societal processes?
  • We are currently looking for new colleagues that we hope will strengthen the diversity and expertise of our current team.


    In this tenure track position you will be working within the portfolio of the Urban Futures Studio. Being a small team, the Studio works with annual themes that help structure teamwork as well as our interaction with the outside world. You work in close collaboration with the other members of the UFS, including the Director, Prof. Maarten Hajer. Your research (50% of your time) fits in with the broad themes that the UFS has laid out for the coming years. Your teaching (50% of your time) is either in the domain of futuring or in adjacent domains of the Copernicus Institute, such as Environmental Governance or Innovation Studies. As an interdisciplinary research group, the UFS welcome candidates from a wide variety of disciplines from the social sciences of humanities, who bring relevant disciplinary knowledge and look forward to operating in a creative and interdisciplinary climate. Successful candidates understand not only how imagined futures weigh on action in the present, but also how action in the present simultaneously creates these imagined and path-dependent futures. Moreover, we encourage candidates to reflect on different epistemologies and modes of interacting with the future. At UFS you will combine an understanding of environmental issues and politics with insights from fields like Science and Technology Studies (STS), public policy, discourse analysis, human geography or governance, and/or with artistic insights. You are expected to report your findings in ways both appealing to a wider audience (e.g. short videos, blog posts, presentations, one-pagers) and academic contributions (e.g. peer-reviewed articles). Additionally, candidates are expected to play an active role in the further development of ‘Futuring' education at Utrecht University. Given the fact that the UFS reaches out to policymakers and societal groups, good communicative skills are appreciated.

    The candidate is expected to be/have:

  • a PhD in a relevant social science or humanities discipline, such as political science, sociology, urban studies, science & technology studies, anthropology, history, or the environmental humanities. Or a design discipline such as architecture or urban design;
  • a proven track record of research skills (relative to experience);
  • academic writing and presentation skills;
  • shown an ability to contribute to international academic debates through written contributions (peer-reviewed articles, conference papers, books, etc.);
  • the ability to work both independently and as part of a team;
  • an interest in setting up organizational experiments;
  • an experimental attitude and excellent communication and collaborative skills;
  • experience in interdisciplinary work, design thinking and societal challenges is considered an advantage;
  • acquired the Basic Teaching Qualification (BKO) of Utrecht University, if you have not obtained this or a similar qualification yet;
  • able to demonstrate excellent English language proficiency. We require a qualification level of English at C1 level (comparable to level 3 of the Lecturer Assessment Grid) or you should be willing to obtain this level by training.
  • Offer

    For the tenure track we offer a temporary position (0.8-1.0 FTE) for six years in combination with a 4-year tenure track qualification programme. Your performance will be subject to annual evaluations as well as an end-term evaluation after 3.5 years. Following a positive evaluation - based on the faculty performance indicators - your employment will become permanent after four years, or sooner depending on the moment you qualify. In case the 3.5-year evaluation is not satisfactory, the contract will be terminated. A continuation after the first four years is only possible for the purpose of compensation of maternity or parental leave or other recognized delays. Further career development to Associate Professor (level 2) is possible, depending on qualification.

    About the organization

    Utrecht University strives for excellence in teaching and study performance. This also holds for the clearly defined research profiles with respect to four core themes: Dynamics of Youth, Life Sciences, Institutions for Open Societies and Pathways to Sustainability. Utrecht University has a strong commitment to community outreach and contributes to answering the social questions of today and tomorrow. The Faculty of Geosciences of Utrecht University offers a unique environment to study this challenge as it combines knowledge on energy efficiency, economics, energy policy, behavioural sciences, innovation systems, as well as knowledge on (sustainable) urban development.

    The Urban Futures Studio is a small research group at Utrecht University. We critically study how images of the future, positive and negative, become embedded in our collective imagination. We conduct empirical research on existing practices, but also help initiate experiments. We aim to shed light on how imagination and re-imagination can contribute to finding roads to sustainable futures.

    At the Urban Futures Studio we focus on futuring, turning our engagement with the future into a (diverse) set of activities. Our goal is to understand current ‘techniques of futuring', and, by doing so, to shed light on the politics of the future. We always think about futuring in direct relationship to deepening our democratic practice.

    Our interest in sustainability animates investigations of the neighbourhoods of the future, climate change and climate modelling, biobased building and nature-based solutions, the future of energy systems, futures literacy, the social theory of the collective imagination, and climate engineering.

    Convinced that new thinking starts in crossovers and ‘soft spaces', we actively initiate experiments with carefully staged meet-ups and exhibitions. Our aim: to understand the dynamics of change and expand the reflexivity on society's repertoire of action.

    Additional information

    For further information about this position, please contact Prof. Maarten Hajer (Director of the Urban Futures Studio), via

    Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. To apply, please click the button below. Applications should include:

  • a letter of motivation (max. 2 pages);
  • statement with future research plans (max. 2 pages);
  • a curriculum vitae including a list of publications;
  • two references;
  • two samples of academic writing (journal articles, book chapters etc.);
  • one sample of writing for a broader audience (blog post, op/ed article etc.).
  • Interviews will be scheduled early October 2021. Employment will become effective on a date to be negotiated with the Director - ideally before the end of 2021.

    The application deadline is 14/09/2021

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