Postdoctoral Researcher/Lecturer in Boundary-Crossing Competencies for Societal Engagement in Education and Research

Updated: 3 months ago
Deadline: 23 Sep 2022

Postdoctoral Researcher/Lecturer in Boundary-Crossing Competencies for Societal Engagement in Education and Research
Postdoctoral Researcher/Lecturer in Boundary-Crossing Competencies for Societal Engagement in Education and Research
Published Deadline Location
3 Sep 23 Sep Amsterdam

One of VU Amsterdam's core values is to support and encourage societal engagement in education and research to collectively address complex issues in society. For effective societal engagement to address such complex/multifaceted societal challenges, i...
Job description
Among varied boundary-crossing approaches we use in VU Amsterdam for societal engagement, the Community Service Learning (CSL) is one of the key educational programs that support science-society collaborations. Through CSL, students can collaborate with community partners and use their academic skills to contribute to social problems. CSL has the potential to be a transformative learning experience for students while impacting society. We have several successful CSL projects underway and work with key community partners in Amsterdam.
In Amsterdam, there are several local, civil society organizations that want to contribute to contemporary complex social issues within the broader domain of sustainability (energy, food and food systems, agriculture) and health and well-being (loneliness/mental health, disability/inclusive mobility). While they all want to address pertinent societal problems and contribute to a more sustainable system, they experience challenges in terms of collaboration and knowledge sharing. In addressing 'wicked societal problems', it is important to have a meaningful connection and collaboration between multiple actors with diverse perspectives and values so as to foster knowledge sharing, co-production and integration to bring about meaningful change in society. However, often it is found that these actors operate within the boundaries of their own disciplines, cultures, and values, which impede them for meaningful collaboration and co-creation with other actors. Therefore, there is a need to understand how these boundaries that hamper effective knowledge exchange, integration and co-production between various actors (academic and non-academic) can be bridged, what key boundary-crossing competencies are needed to bridge these gaps, and how can such competencies be developed and trained in higher education institutions. Understanding these nuances are imperative to meaningfully connect diverse actors to jointly address pervasive societal issues that require broader science-society collaboration.
In this research you will be involved in researching the nuances of boundary-crossing and competencies that foster such processes. You will also help design and facilitate multi-actor boundary-crossing processes that promote knowledge exchange and knowledge integration between local initiatives, municipality and knowledge institutes to contribute to addressing current complex social issues.
As a researcher at the Athena Institute, you will study this by being part of the CSL team and using interactive and interventionist methodologies for monitoring, evaluation and co-design. By studying and designing inclusive, multi-stakeholder, innovation processes, this research should be seen as contributing to the dynamics of social transformation and system innovation.
Your duties
  • Co-designing and conducting a research programme in boundary-crossing competencies for societal engagement within the themes of "sustainability transitions" and "health & wellbeing".
  • Supervision of junior researchers and a PhD candidate.
  • Teaching master students, including course coordination and thesis supervision, in courses that are part of the Institute's transdisciplinary teaching portfolio.
  • Linking up education/research efforts at VU with the real-world issues addressed in boundary-crossing initiatives. You also assess and evaluate the added value of VU involvement.
  • Publishing articles in high quality journals. You also communicate research findings and insights via other, more widely accessible forms of writing and presenting.
  • Contributing to administrative tasks and responsibilities of the Athena Institute.
  • Engaging with stakeholders outside of academia in co-learning processes.
  • Contributing to a pleasant, diverse, and safe work environment at the Athena Institute.

  • 30.4—38 hours per week
  • €2960—€4670 per month
  • Amsterdam View on Google Maps

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)

  • You have a PhD, preferably in the field of Science (biomedicine, health sciences, sustainability sciences, science & technology studies, system innovation, and other related sciences with interest/differentiation/experience in societal engagement and research, science communication, citizen science, inter/transdisciplinarity); but also scholars with an affinity for sociology of knowledge, knowledge co-creation; public policy or public sector transformation; organizational change (incl. communities of practice, reflective practitioners); or related fields are invited to apply.
  • You have experience with designing and facilitating qualitative focus group discussions and reflection sessions as part of change processes. You are familiar with participatory research methodologies, such as reflexive monitoring in action, learning histories, most significant change techniques.
  • You hold a network of relevant (inter)national contacts and you are a team player.
  • You have potential for, or experience of, obtaining research grants.
  • You have teaching skills and are an engaged and inspiring lecturer, as demonstrated by student evaluations.
  • You have an excellent command of Dutch and English.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 1 year.

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. On full-time basis the remuneration amounts to a minimum gross monthly salary of €2,960 (scale 10)
and a maximum €4,670 (scale 10), depending on your education and experience. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 0.8 FTE. The appointment will initially be for a period of one year with a possible extension conditional upon assessment of adequate functioning. The maximum duration of appointment will be four years.
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment,
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus,
  • solid pension scheme (ABP),
  • contribution to commuting expenses,
  • and optional model for designing a personalized benefits package.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor - from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 30,000 students. We employ over 5,500 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam's Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.
We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.
The Faculty of Science
The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.
Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to more than 11,000 students.
Athena Institute
The position is offered within the Athena Institute, Faculty of Science. The institute's mission is to study and design interfaces between science and society to contribute both to a deeper understanding of innovation processes as well as a responsible implementation of research and innovation in society. As part of the scientific analysis of problems and innovations, Athena's research program focuses on developing reflexive, participatory methodologies and strategies for knowledge articulation, integration and embedding.
For more information about the Athena Institute visit our website:
Additional information
Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until 23 September 2022.
Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.
Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:
Name: Prof.dr. M.B.M. Zweekhorst
Position: Chair Innovation and Education in the health and life sciences
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Working at VU Amsterdam

Working at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam means contributing to a better world. Working beyond the confidence of your own field, working with an open mind and working for the benefit of society.

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