PhD fellowship in Sociology of Sustainable Food and Pleasure at Department of Food and Resource Economics

Updated: about 1 month ago
Deadline: 23 Sep 2021

The Department of Food and Resource Economics (IFRO), Section for Consumption, Bioethics and Governance, in the Faculty of Science at University of Copenhagen is inviting applications for a PhD scholarship in the Sociology of Sustainable Food and Pleasure to start December 15, 2021.

IFRO carries out pure basic and applied social science research and has several educational and public sector advisory service responsibilities within our thematic fields. IFRO performs research within the disciplines of economics, sociology, and ethics, but we are characterized by a high involvement in interdisciplinary research at both international and national levels.

The Research Project
The PhD scholarship is part of the Food and Health education and research programme within the Sino-Danish Center (SDC), which is a partnership between universities in Denmark and China. The selected candidate will work on a project titled “Green taste: the socioecological embeddedness of values and pleasure in sustainable-food experiences, and their impact on food preference and choice.” The student will be employed in sociological and consumer-science research in relation to the determinants of sustainable food choice. The project will analyse two cultural contexts Denmark and China, and the goal will be to develop a concept of ‘green taste’ that accounts for the attributes that guide sustainable food consumption. The framework for understanding individual food choice places the preference for, transition to, and adoption of a sustainable diet at the intersection of two research traditions. One is rooted in the sensory and consumer sciences and examines the subjective values driving food acceptance, especially, the role of experienced pleasure and well-being, and their impact on food-choice. Another dimension arises from work in the social sciences and humanities that explores how food choice is embedded within a variety of social, economic, cultural, and other environmental factors including patterns of belief related to risk, social trust, and the food and nutrition system. This tradition in the social sciences has addressed at length the relationship between patterns of choice and preference, and social structures such as cultural identity and social class. Only recently however has work on the social structuration of taste begun to engage with questions about the relationship between emotions and other forms of sensation with social, cultural, and economic forces.

Research Questions
The successful applicant will be expected to examine and bridge these research traditions. Topics of interest include the causal pathways and interactions between pleasure or other aspects of food preferences, and the social, cultural, and economic forces that underly food choice. The goal is to understand how best to promote sustainable diets within the Danish and Chinese contexts.

The cross-cultural aims of the PhD will be facilitated via The SDC Food and Health Research Theme (https://sdc.university/research/research-areas/food-and-health/ ). This collaboration has been developed between Danish universities and the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS) to meet Danish and Chinese food market challenges via stakeholder research-based collaborations to strengthen Denmark and China’s position in the food market. The student will write one dissertation in English that will lead to two degrees, one from IFRO at the University of Copenhagen and the other from the Department of Economics and Management at UCAS. In Denmark, the principal supervisor will be Wesley Dean at the University of Copenhagen with co-supervision by Barbara Vad Andersen in the Department of Food Science at Aarhus University. At UCAS, the student will be co-supervised by Zhao Hong and Zhu Xiumei.

Principal supervisor is Associate Professor Wesley R. Dean, Department of Food and Resource Economics, wesleydean@ifro.ku.dk.

Questions can be addressed to principal supervisor Wesley R. Dean: wesleydean@ifro.ku.dk. 

The PhD Programme
A three year full-time study within the framework of the regular PhD programme (5+3 scheme), if you already have an education equivalent to a relevant Danish master’s degree.


Getting into a position on the regular PhD programme

Qualifications needed for the regular programme
To be eligible for the regular PhD programme, you must have completed a degree programme, equivalent to a Danish master’s degree (180 ECTS/3 FTE BSc + 120 ECTS/2 FTE MSc) related to the subject area of the project, e.g. Sociology, Food and Consumer Sciences, Public Health Nutrition, Economics, Anthropology, or allied fields. For information on eligibility of completed programmes, see General assessments for specific countries and Assessment database .

Job description
The PhD study should contribute to one or more aspects of the overall research questions of the project described above. The position is available for a 3-year period and your key tasks as a PhD student at SCIENCE are:

  • To manage and carry through your research project
  • Attend PhD courses
  • Write scientific papers and the other parts of your PhD thesis
  • Teach and disseminate your research
  • Work for the department according to the terms of appointment
  • Work approximately one year in a Chinese research environment according to the terms of appointment

Formal requirements
Applicants should hold an MSc degree in Sociology, Food and Consumer Sciences, Public Health Nutrition, Economics, Anthropology, or allied fields. Their prior graduate work should be related to the thematic areas mentioned above with good results and good English skills. As criteria for the assessment of your qualifications, emphasis will also be laid on previous publications (if any), relevant work experience and the potentials of the applicant’s proposed non-binding research project. Competencies in sustainability research on food production and/or consumption, qualitative and quantitative consumer analyses and knowledge of social science perspectives on food and consumption would be an advantage.

Terms of employment in the regular programme
Employment as PhD fellow is full time and for maximum 3 years.

Employment is conditional upon your successful enrolment as a PhD student at the PhD School at the Faculty of SCIENCE, University of Copenhagen. This requires submission and acceptance of an application for the specific project formulated by the applicant.

The terms of employment and salary are in accordance to the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State (AC). The position is covered by the Protocol on Job Structure.

Salary range starts at DKK 27,588.59 per month incl. PhD supplement (1 April 2021 level).


Please be aware, that the PhD project involves funding from Sino Danish Center/SDC, and therefore the PhD student:

  • is required to spend time in a Chinese research environment. The specific period depends on the funding model, in this PhD case it is a full SDC scholarship which requires 12 months in a SDC/Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) research environment.
  • is expected to contribute to the educational activities on the SDC Master's programmes in Beijing during their stay in China.

See the SDC’s website on the specific requirements: http://sdc.university/research/phd/ . Please note that it is not possible to get exemption from these conditions.

Chinese citizens including citizens from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao are not eligible for the position.

Application Procedure
The application, in English, must be submitted electronically by clicking APPLY NOW below. 

Please include

  • Cover Letter, including a motivation (maximum 1 page) and description of a suggested non-binding research project indicating your field of interest (maximum 2 pages)
  • CV
  • Diploma and transcripts of records (BSc and MSc)
  • Other information for consideration, e.g. list of publications (if any),
  • Full contact details (Name, address, telephone & email) of 1-3 professional referees

The University wishes our staff to reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background.

The deadline for applications is 23 September 2021 23:59 GMT +2

Applications received after the deadline for applications will not be considered.

The further process
After deadline, a number of applicants will be selected for academic assessment by an unbiased expert assessor. You are notified, whether you will be passed for assessment.

The assessor will assess the qualifications and experience of the shortlisted applicants with respect to the above-mentioned research area, techniques, skills and other requirements. The assessor will conclude whether each applicant is qualified and, if so, for which of the two models. The assessed applicants will have the opportunity to comment on their assessment.

General information about PhD programmes at SCIENCE is available at www.science.ku.dk/phd .

The main criterion for selection will be the research potential of the applicant and the above-mentioned skills. The successful candidate will then be requested to formally apply for enrolment as a PhD student at the PhD school of Science.

You can read more about the recruitment process at https://employment.ku.dk/faculty/recruitment-process/ .

Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe’s top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organisation – with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture – creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.


Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe’s top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organisation – with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture – creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.


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