PhD Candidate: Synergizing Sustainability

Updated: about 1 month ago
Deadline: 22 May 2022

Are you an aspiring researcher and would you like to investigate how policy coherence evolves and affects the realisation of Sustainable Development Goals? And does conducting research in sub-Saharan Africa, an area that represents a diversity of SDG-challenges, sound exciting to you? Then you have a part to play as a PhD Candidate for the research project ‘Synergizing Sustainability’. 

Policy coherence is seen as essential for realizing the Sustainable Development Goals. Yet, development policy-makers experience that coherence is not so straightforwardly achieved. The interactive research project 'Synergizing Sustainability' studies how the objective of policy coherence evolves and affects synergies among SDGs, by analysing policy-making around agricultural development in and for sub-Saharan Africa. We are particularly interested in how ambitions for boosting food production, employment creation, and climate-change action interact with ambitions for enhancing governance, equity and justice, and sustainable peace. 

To study this, the project focuses on the complex interactions and contestations between diverse stakeholders at different levels in the policy-making process, including the politics of discourses on notions like 'sustainability' and 'peace', and how they result in synergies, as well as frictions, contradictions, and trade-offs. Through innovative peer-to-peer exchange, the project facilitates learning and co-creation of knowledge among stakeholders, aiming to identify how policy-makers can more effectively contribute to sustainable transformations.

So far, 'Synergizing Sustainability' includes a postdoctoral research project and a PhD project. The PhD project studies discourses and practices of policy-making around agricultural development by donors, government, civil society and agri-business in Burkina Faso and Ethiopia (with Uganda as an alternative). Both countries represent a diversity of SDG-related challenges at the interface of food insecurity, resource depletion and climate change; and in legitimate governance, societal stability and justice. In these cases, collaboration between state, market and civil-society actors around agricultural development is difficult. The project aims to unpack discourses on policy coherence and sustainability in these countries; analyse processes of renegotiation and reinterpretation of policy (objectives) by multi-level stakeholders; and explore how more inclusive policy-making impacts coherence as well as policy legitimacy and sustainable peace. The affiliated post-doc project explores donor discourses and practices of policy-making in the EU and its member states and among multilateral organizations, and coherence and incoherence in agricultural development policies of EU member states vis-àvis Sub-Saharan Africa, and experiments with innovative peer-to-peer exchange and co-creation with stakeholders.

As a PhD researcher, you will collect data, predominantly through long-term research in Burkina Faso and Ethiopia, write and co-author scientific articles, and complete your PhD thesis before the assigned deadline. You will organize workshops to reflect on your findings and discuss implications with representatives from government and civil society in those countries, as well as in Europe, and write policy notes.

The position is for 4 years and involves mainly PhD research, and about 5% teaching. In this position you will be trained to become an academic researcher while working on your own PhD project under the supervision of Prof. Mathijs van Leeuwen, and Dr Haley Swedlund, Dr Gerry van der Kamp-Alons, and Dr Maria Kaufman. For parts of the research you will work in close collaboration with the postdoctoral researcher.

You will be part of the teams of both the Department of Political Science and Human Geography, and enrol in the PhD programme at the Institute for Management Research (IMR).


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