PhD: University as agent in sustainability transition; Action research approach.

Eindhoven University of Technology


November 15, 2021


PhD: University as agent in sustainability transition; Action research


PhD position on Technical universities as agents for sustainability transformations: an Action research and participatory visioning approach.




Industrial Engineering and Innovation Sciences



Date off


Reference number


Job description

Institutional Setting The PhD position is embedded in the Technology, Innovation & Society (TIS) group. The TIS group is part of the School of Innovation Sciences, one of the two schools of the Department of Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences (IE&IS). Research at TIS concerns how humans and societies bring about technological change, and how technological innovations change society. Researchers in the TIS group study these processes in a systemic, transdisciplinary, and transnational perspective. The research focus of TIS covers both short-term processes (innovations) and long-term, fundamental processes (transitions), and addresses multiple aspects of the innovation journey – invention, innovation, diffusion, appropriation, governance, policy intervention along with local and global impacts on society. Many of the TIS research projects are strongly embedded in practical environments and involve co-creation and an action research approach.

Project embeddedness The project to which the PhD will contribute, addresses the role TU/e itself may assume as an actor in sustainability transformations. A successful applicant will perform this action research project, connected to the activities of the university newly appointed sustainability ambassador, Dr Anna Wieczorek, and report research findings at international conferences, in scientific journals and at the University. Because of a very practical dimension of this project, the research findings will be tested in practical environments and disseminated via non-academic channels. The successful applicant will have the opportunity to profit from the benefits that such an environment has to offer and to contribute to the ongoing research.

Job description The tasks of the PhD candidate include support to the development of: i) a participatory visioning process for the university strategy on sustainability; ii) a participatory sustainability assessment of the ongoing research, education, operations and governance; iii) insights into the specific roles technical universities can assume in sustainability transformations; iii) research into how universities can mobilize their staff and student community around sustainability transformations. The PhD candidate will fully participate in relevant project activities and support the principal investigator in the management tasks. A small teaching load is part of the job description.

Job requirements
  • Master's degree in sustainable innovation, sustainability transitions, or equivalent.
  • Knowledge of and eagerness to engage with participatory, action oriented or transdisciplinary approaches to research.
  • Experience with university or student-oriented sustainability initiatives.
  • Experience with visioning methods, future studies, scenario work and with participatory sustainability assessment methods.
  • Excellent communication skills and proficiency in English and Dutch (written/spoken).
  • Strong methodological skills and proven experience with mixed methods designs.
  • Enthusiasm, self-reliance, strong organizational skills, scientific mindedness.
  • Conditions of employment
  • A meaningful job in a dynamic and ambitious university with the possibility to present your work at international conferences.
  • A full-time employment for four years, with an intermediate evaluation (go/no-go) after nine months.
  • To develop your teaching skills, you will spend 10% of your employment on teaching tasks.
  • To support you during your PhD and to prepare you for the rest of your career, you will make a Training and Supervision plan and you will have free access to a personal development program for PhD students (PROOF program).
  • A gross monthly salary and benefits (such as a pension scheme, pregnancy and maternity leave, partially paid parental leave) in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement for Dutch Universities.
  • Additionally, an annual holiday allowance of 8% of the yearly salary, plus a year-end allowance of 8.3% of the annual salary.
  • Should you come from abroad and comply with certain conditions, you can make use of the so-called ‘30% facility', which permits you not to pay tax on 30% of your salary.
  • A broad package of fringe benefits, including an excellent technical infrastructure, moving expenses, and savings schemes.
  • Family-friendly initiatives are in place, such as an international spouse program, and excellent on-campus children day care and sports facilities.
  • You are part of the TIS PhD community.
  • Information and application

    More information Do you recognize yourself in this profile and would you like to know more about this position? Please contact dr. Wieczorek,

    For information about terms of employment, click here or contact Kim van Puijenbroek MSc, HR Advisor ( Further information about the Eindhoven University of Technology can be found at www.

    Please visit www. to find out more about working at TU/e!

    Application If you are interested, we invite you to apply ASAP but no later than 15 November 2021 by pressing the ‘apply now' button for this vacancy. Your application must contain the following documents (all in English):

  • Cover letter (1 page), in which you explain your motivation for and interest in this vacancy and explicitly describe your fit with this research project.
  • A 1500-word research proposal that outlines how you would approach this topic and ideas for conducting the research.
  • A detailed curriculum vitae.
  • A sample research document written by you: a relevant paper, or a master thesis.
  • A list of grades from your master.
  • If your degree is not from an English-spoken program, a proof of proficiency in English (such as IELTS or TOEFL).
  • Name and contact information of two references.
  • We look forward to your application and will screen it as soon as we have received it. We do not respond to applications that are sent to us in a different way.

    Please keep in mind you can upload only 5 documents up to 2 MB each. If necessary please combine files.

    Note that incomplete applications will not be considered.

    The interviews will be held in the week of 22 November 2021. The intended starting date for this position is January, 2022 but will be filled in earlier if a suitable candidate is found.

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