Doctoral student in human geography

Updated: 3 months ago

Are you interested in sustainability and the use of natural resources? The Department of Geography at Umeå University offers a doctoral position in human geography with a focus on societal transitions for a sustainable forest management and energy system. The position is expected to start December 2022 or according to agreements. The application should be submitted at the latest 12 Oct 2022.

Research project

With climate change the risk of forest damages by for example fire, pest, and pathogens increases. There is thus a need to adjust forest management to also in the future ensure the supply of biodiversity, recreation and sustainable biomass production. The position involves work in an ongoing research project about a large-scale increase of the share of broadleaves, including fast growing broadleaves, with the purpose to contribute towards a transition towards a sustainable forest management and energy system. A large-scale transition of forest management will be affected by the forest owner’s willingness to adapt but also to what extent the change is perceived to be legitimate by society. Knowledge is needed about the forest owners’ attitude towards more broadleaves and what possibilities and problems different groups with an interest for e.g., environment, recreation or culture associate with such a transition. Different geographical perspectives on this transition is of particular interest. For example, it may be of importance to study how changes in the landscape are perceived and the role of the forest at various scales (individual, local community, regional) or how a transition in one place can spread to other places. These perspectives can also be related to forest policy and governance. 

As a doctoral student, you have in collaboration with the competence center “Trees for me” (see below) the possibility to form your own research around societal transitions in relation to the management of forests. Methods that are relevant in the project are surveys, interviews, preference studies etc. You should have an interest to work interdisciplinary with different social sciences in the work package, as well as forest, energy and technical sciences in the competence center.

The position requires that the doctoral student actively participate in communicating research results in international academic settings and to different societal actors, and participate in the department’s other activities. 

Trees for me - competence center

Climate change puts our forests at risk and currently, the forest biomass production is neither secure, sustainable nor sufficient to meet the future demands of both the energy and process industry sector. There is also a need to ensure other goals for the forest such as biodiversity and recreation. ‘TREES FOR ME’ is a centre of excellence on fast growing broadleaves, i.e. poplar, aspen, hybrid aspen and birch, for sustainable forests, materials and energy. Fifty partner organizations representing academic and research institutes, and the enterprise and public sectors will collaborate in TREES FOR ME working together to find solutions to mitigate some of these future risks to forest health. The centre’s goal is to develop science-based, innovative solutions for, and build future competence in, a new forest biomass supply system for conversion to high-value material and energy products. In total, 13 PhD students will be recruited to the centre and will collaborate with stakeholders representing the whole forest-based value chain, to build research excellence and knowledge for Swedish energy and forest sectors as well as for society at large.   

About the position

The position aims for a PhD and is normally limited to 4 years full-time starting December 2022 or according to agreements. Salary is paid according to the established wage intervals for PhD candidates at the university. If department duties (e.g., teaching) can be offered (up to 20%) the position will be extended, corresponding to time spent engaged on these tasks. The position is placed at the Determent of Geography, Umeå University.

The Department of Geography is a research environment with around 40 employees. Examples from the research and teaching areas are planning, economic geography, tourism and natural resource use. For more information, visit our website The project will be conducted at the Department of Geography, Umeå University, in collaboration with a competence center on fast growing broadleaves (TREES FOR ME) coordinated by SLU. 

Requirements and qualifications

To be eligible, applicants must be admitted as a doctoral student in human geography. Applicants are required to have an advanced degree, have completed studies equivalent to at least 240 higher education credits, of which at least 60 higher education credits are at an advanced level, as well as at least 90 higher education credits in human geography, or derived equivalent competence within or outside the country at the time when the position begin. 

Other qualifications

The applicant should master the English language (spoken and written) and understand research in social sciences, especially human geography. It is an advantage (but not a requirement) for the applicant to have knowledge of the Swedish language to enable data collection in Swedish. Knowledge about and experience of quantitative data analysis of for example survey data is a merit. 

If the applicant fulfils the admission requirements, the ability to formulate a research proposal with a connection to the theme associated with the position and cultural geography literature will first of all be evaluated in combination with earlier research and/or study results, followed by ability to utilize the education (communicative ability, ability to work in group and independence as well as critical ability). 


A complete application must contain the following:

1.    A research plan describing the proposed dissertation project (maximum 3 pages, excluding references) containing the following:

-       Description of a research idea

-       Justification of the project based on the theme of the position “sustainability and transitions for a changed forest landscape”

-       Aim and research questions

-       Connection to relevant literature in human geography

2.    Personal letter summarizing your scientific interest and justify why you apply for the position (max 2 pages)

3.    CV/merits

4.    Copy of degree certificate

5.    A sample of the candidate’s academic writing (thesis and other)

6.    Possibly, other merits with relevance for the position 

7.    Name and contact information of two references.

Please observe that an incomplete application will not be considered.

Your application should be registered in the e-recruitment system Varbi, no later than 12 Oct 2022.

The procedure for recruitment for the position is in accordance with the Higher Education Ordinance (chapt. 12, 2§) and the decision regarding the position cannot be appealed.

We are looking forward to receiving your application!

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