PhD Research Fellow in cross-disciplinary project on new aid actors in humanitarian response

Updated: 3 months ago
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PhD Research Fellow in cross-disciplinary project on new aid actors in humanitarian response
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About the position

A 100 % position is available at the University of Agder, Faculty of Social Sciences as a PhD Research Fellow within the topic of humanitarian response and new actors, affiliated to the Department of Global Development and Planning (IGUS), for a period of three years or four years with 25% required duties. The position is located at Campus Kristiansand. The starting date is negotiable with the Faculty.

IGUS is an interdisciplinary department with 14 full-time research positions, a post-doc position, and 10 PhDs enrolled in the faculty‘s PhD programme. Members of staff are dedicated teachers and researchers working on poverty issues, various dimensions of globalisation, political economy, emergency management, climate challenges and environmental problems, development communication, migration, gender, integration, humanitarian and development actors, participatory processes, urban and regional planning and digitalisation of higher education. 

The specific PhD position is tied to the research cluster on Mobility, Gender and Culture.


The PhD position will be part of an interdisciplinary research project across the social sciences (University of Agder, Norway) and modeling and simulation (Old Dominion University, USA). The topic concerns new aid actors in humanitarian response that ’pop up’ to meet emergent needs. Such actors are not new, but they are becoming increasingly influential. While some “pop-ups” are short-lived, others do develop into more permanent organisations and evolve into NGOs and INGOs. The UN has specifically acknowledged civic engagement, i.e. volunteer groups, as important stakeholders for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 SDGs. It is pertinent to understand their contribution when dealing with humanitarian emergencies.

The ongoing project methodologically unites social science and engineering research methodologies to advance a truly interdisciplinary approach that leverages qualitative and quantitative data through computer modeling.

To gain an increased understanding of such small scale actors, there is a need for cross-country comparison that relies on local data collection and computer models to establish their emergent commonalities and differences. A cross-contextual theory requires research on how and when such initiatives emerge in humanitarian crises, how their work is organised, and to what extent they challenge and/or complement existing humanitarian response.

We welcome proposals that engage with the description and questions outlined above and which acknowledge the need for cross-disciplinary work and perspectives. The ongoing project has data from Greece and Colombia, but candidates are free to suggest relevant case studies and contexts.

Required qualifications

Further provisions relating to the positions as PhD Research Fellows can be found in the Regulations Concerning Terms and Conditions of Employment for the post of Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Research Fellow, Research Assistant and Resident.

The applicants must qualify for admission to the PhD Program in Social Sciences , specialisation in Global Development and Planning and must hold a master’s degree in social sciences or related fields with an average mark of B or better. Applicants who are in the process of finishing their master’s thesis are also welcome to apply for this position. 

We are looking for a candidate who has knowledge about the field of humanitarian aid and development and who is interested in exploring cross-disciplinary methodologies and dialogue, linking social sciences with modeling and simulation. The candidate should have experience with qualitative methodology, preferably also with quantitative methods,  preference will be given to those with computational backgrounds and experience in conducting qualitative fieldwork. Experience with computer programming and statistical analysis is a plus.

The applicant should have strong written and verbal communication skills in English, as this is the working language in the larger, cross - disciplinary project. Other languages are a plus. Evidence of the ability to publish academically in English is a plus.

Desired qualifications
  • Experience with novel data collection, particularly using advanced computational methods or ethnographic methods
  • Practical and/or theoretical experience in development research and practice
  • Computer programming experience or aptitude
  • Statistical analysis capabilities
  • Qualitative analysis capabilities
  • History of academic publication for conferences, journals, or other academic outlets
  • Experience and skill writing research funding proposals

Personal qualities
  • Demonstrated ability to work in virtual and team environments
  • Experience and flexibility for international travel, including immersive fieldwork
  • Openness to innovative and complex methods of cross-disciplinary collaboration
  • Strong orientation towards ethical research practices and cultural sensitivity for research in development contexts 
  • Able to take constructive criticism to improve research standards and practice
  • Thirst for knowledge and desire to transcend disciplinary silos

Personal qualities and suitability for the position will be emphasised. 

We offer

The opportunity to explore topics that create opportunities in academia, NGOs, government agencies, etc.

  • Work with a multinational/multidisciplinary team, across continents and cultures
  • Direct mentorship and supervision from a larger team – we want you to succeed
  • The opportunity to travel for data collection
  • Professional development in a large, exciting and socially influential organisation
  • A positive, inclusive and diverse working environment
  • Modern facilities and a comprehensive set of welfare offers 
  • Membership of the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund

More about working at UiA.

The position is remunerated according to the State Salary Scale, salary plan 17.515, code 1017 PhD Research Fellow, NOK 482.200 gross salary per year. A compulsory pension contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund is deducted from the pay according to current statutory provisions.

General information

UiA is an open and inclusive university. We believe that diversity enriches the workplace and makes us better. We, therefore, encourage qualified candidates to apply for the position independent of gender, age, cultural background, disability or an incomplete CV.

The successful applicant will have rights and obligations in accordance with the current regulations for the position, and organisational changes and changes in the duties and responsibilities of the position must be expected. The appointment is made by the University of Agder’s Appointments Committee for Teaching and Research Positions.

Short-listed applicants will be invited for interviews. With the applicant’s permission, UiA will also conduct a reference check before the appointment. Read more about the employment process here .

In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act § 25 (2), applicants may request that they are not identified in the open list of applicants. The University, however, reserves the right to publish the names of applicants. Applicants will be advised of the University’s intention to exercise this right. 


The application and any necessary information about education and experience (including diplomas and certificates) are to be sent electronically. Use the link "Apply for the position".

The following documentation must be uploaded electronically:

  • Certificates with grades
  • Master’s thesis or other relevant documentation
  • References
  • Relevant academic work
  • A project description addressing the description and questions outlined above, positioned within the larger cross – disciplinary project, with a maximum scope of 5 -10 pages, including the reference list. The outline should present and discuss possible research questions, theory perspectives, potential empirical material, a progress plan, and methods within the given framework

The applicant is fully responsible for submitting complete digital documentation before the closing date. All documentation must be available in a Scandinavian language or English.

Application deadline: 10 October 2021.



For questions about the position:

  • Hanne Haaland, Head of Department and Associate Professor, phone +47 97718817, e-mail 
  • Associate Professor Hege Wallevik, cluster leader, phone + 47 48010543 e-mail

For questions about the application process:

  • Senior Adviser Anna Cecilie Eye Færavaag, tlf. 38 14 24 14, mobil 974 29 499, e-post:

University of Agder

The University of Agder has more than 1400 employees and 13 000 students. This makes us one of the largest workplaces in Southern Norway. Our staff research, teach and disseminate knowledge from a variety of academic fields. Co-creation of knowledge is our common vision. We offer a broad range of study programmes in many fields. We are situated at two modern campuses in Kristiansand and Grimstad respectively.

We are an open and inclusive university marked by a culture of cooperation. The aim of the university is to further develop education and research at a high international level.

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10th October 2021


University of Agder




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