PhD Scholarship 'ERC Grant CURIAE VIRIDES: Sustainable development law and access to justice'

Vrije Universiteit Brussel


July 11, 2021


PhD Scholarship 'ERC Grant CURIAE VIRIDES: Sustainable development law and

access to justice'

Category: PhD

1 - Working at the VUB

For already 50 years, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel has stood for freedom, equality and connectedness. These values are strongly present on our campuses, in our students as well as our staff. At the VUB, you'll find a diverse collection of personalities: pure innovators and especially people who are 100% their authentic selves. With about 3.500 employees , we are the largest Flemish-speaking employer in Brussels , an international city with which we are all too happy to be connected, and around which our four campuses are located.

Our education and research are grounded in the principles of free research with an eye on human progress. We disapprove of every purely authoritative argument and guarantee the free formation of judgement that is necessary for this basic principle to be incorporated in the community.

The VUB is autonomous and managed democratically. As such, we guarantee fundamental freedoms within our university, as well as the right of the university community to be involved in making and checking university policy.

The mission of the university includes:

  • the development, the transfer and the application of high-standing academic education and scientific research, free from any prejudice;
  • community integration of this in a spirit of social compassion;
  • critical development of everyone in light of the responsibilities borne in the community.
  • 2 - Position description

    The Brussels School of Governance , is looking for a PhD-student with a doctoral grant , to conduct research on “the transformation of ecological conflicts into lawsuits and the outcomes of this process for victims of ecological damages”.

    More concretely your work package, for the preparation of a doctorate, contains:

    About the Brussels School of Governance (BSoG):

    The Brussels School of Governance (BSoG) carries out interdisciplinary research, in various policy-relevant fields, including energy & environment, security & diplomacy, migration & diversity, and digitalisation & democracy. The School is an alliance between the Institute for European Studies (Vrije Universiteit Brussel), which has a long-standing reputation in postgraduate education & research, and Vesalius College, which has a solid undergraduate & graduate education offering. The project is carried out within the Centre for Environment, Economy and Energy (C3E).

    Project Description:

    You will join the team of the CURIAE VIRIDES project, funded by the European Research Council (ERC Str. Grant 909496). This project conceptualises the worldwide progressive transformation of ecological conflicts into human rights or ecocentric litigation and the emerging but important role of (activist) courts in addressing ecological governance gaps. The project aims at inquiring how this greening of social litigation challenges the legal concept of attribution of liability in transnational lawsuits and influences access to remedy for victims of transnational ecological harms.

    You find more information about the project on the website.


  • You will support the team of the CURIAE VIRIDES project to assess firstly, how do ecocentric networks operate, and who are the most active stakeholders in the process of greening human rights litigation. Secondly, you will investigate whether ecocentric case law is filling ecological governance gaps and whether they are guaranteeing (or not) effective remedy to victims in transnational ecological claims.
  • You will define the scope of your PhD dissertation connected with the topics addressed in the project with the supervision of the Principal Investigator.
  • The research project is positioned at the intersections of sustainable development law, the analysis of (ecological) litigation, and state/corporate accountability for respecting and protecting human rights and the environment.
  • You will be expected to devote most of your time to research; additional tasks will include occasional teaching activities, event organization and contributions to the overall development of the project.
  • You will prepare papers, attend conferences and produce research publications as you carry out the PhD, individually or in collaboration with other team members.
  • For this function, our Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering Campus (Elsene) will serve as your home base.

    3 - Profile

    What do we expect from you?

    You've attained a master's degree in law with demonstrated experience in qualitative empirical research, mainly but not exclusively, on socio- ecological conflicts, or a master's degree in socio-legal studies, sociology, development studies, criminology or another social science with an important component of legal studies, with excellent study results;

  • You are fully fluent in English.
  • Additional assets are:

  • demonstrating strong (qualitative empirical) methodological skills, particularly field work (semi-structured interviews), and/or network analysis;
  • demonstrated expertise on the role of the judiciary in regions or countries outside Europe and Latin America;
  • additional studies and/or diploma in environmental studies, development studies, political ecology or related fields;
  • proficiency in other languages, including relevant non-European languages.
  • You have not performed any works in the execution of a mandate as an assistant, paid from operating resources, over a total (cumulated) period of more than 12 months.

  • 4 - Offer

    Are you going to be our new colleague?

    You'll be offered a full-time PhD-scholarship , for 12 months (extendable up to max. 48 months, on condition of the positive evaluation of the PhD activities), with planned starting date 01/10/2021.

    You'll receive a grant linked to one of the scales set by the government.

    IMPORTANT: The effective result of the doctorate scholarship is subject to the condition precedent of your enrolment as a doctorate student at the university.

    At the VUB, you're guaranteed an open, involved and diverse workplace where you are offered opportunities to (further) build on your career.

    As well as this, you'll enjoy various benefits:

  • Full reimbursement for your home-work commute with public transport according to VUB-policy, or compensation if you come by bike;
  • Cost-free hospitalisation insurance ;
  • The space to form your job content and continuously learn via VUB LRN;
  • Excellent facilities for sport and exercise ;
  • Ecocheques ;
  • Delicious meals at attractive prices in our campus restaurants ;
  • An open, family-friendly work environment where attention is paid to work- life balance, and exceptional holiday arrangements with 35 days of leave (based on a fulltime contract).
  • 5 - Interested?

    Is this the job you've been dreaming of?

    Send us ONLINE and at latest on 28/07/2021 :

  • you one-page motivation letter explaining your interest in pursuing a PhD on the chosen topic;
  • your curriculum vitae listing your academic qualifications, relevant research experience and previous publications;
  • a short concept note with a brief literature review and a discussion of the methodological challenges to tackle the topic of the research project CURIAE VIRIDES, with a word limit of maximum 1.500 words;
  • your highest obtained diploma (not applicable for VUB alumni) and transcripts of academic grades;
  • the contact details (email and telephone) of two referees who are able to comment on the candidate's academic merit and/or working skills.
  • Do you have questions about the job content? Contact Prof. Dr. Liliana Lizarazo Rodríguez at

    The short-listed candidates will be invited for interviews that are expected to take place in the last weeks of August. The PhD fellow will be selected on the basis of the quality of the concept note, her/his expertise, motivation, work experience and qualifications.

    BSoG is committed to creating and supporting a diverse work environment in line with the VUB diversity and inclusion policy, and with the policies of the European Commission.

    Would you like to know what it's like to work at the VUB? Go to www. and find all there is to know about our campuses, benefits, strategic goals and your future colleagues.