PhD position: Citizen science for responsible, transdisciplinary environmental and health governance

Updated: 2 months ago
Deadline: ;

Snail fever. Nitrogen dioxide. Radiation pollution. Do these terms catch your attention? Do diseases and hazards spark your interest, generally? Are you curious about how communities manage risks using citizen science approaches? And how such efforts can be researched and facilitated to strengthen environmental and health governance? If the answer to each of these questions is a resounding YES, we want to hear from you!

FTE: 1

Job description

Across the globe, citizens are using technologies and collecting data to produce knowledge about pressing environmental and health concerns, such as air pollution and disease outbreaks. In this research project, you will assess how such citizen science initiatives are forming, how their ideas, data, and technologies challenge formal institutions (e.g., public authorities), and whether and how interactions between involved parties generates mutually beneficial forms of governance. Building on a range of qualitative methods, you will examine and compare three paradigmatic environmental and health citizen science networks emerging across three regions (Western Europe, East Asia, Central Africa) around: (a) radiation in the environment, (b) traffic-related pollution, (c) parasitic disease control. Based on your research work, you will facilitate exchanges between citizens, scientists, and organizations from the grassroots to the grasstops with the aim of strengthening responsible, transdisciplinary environmental and health governance locally and transnationally.

Keywords: Citizen science; Environment; Governance; Health; Policy; Transdisciplinarity.

Your duties
You will research how citizen scientists across the globe are using technologies and collecting data to produce knowledge about environmental and health concerns. You will initiate and lead citizen science activities with societal stakeholders with the aim of strengthening responsible, transdisciplinary environmental and health governance locally and transnationally.

You will take on teaching duties assist lecturers in educating and guiding students at the level of Bachelors and Masters, including the organization of workshops, grading assignments, and supervising master thesis projects.


We are looking for a candidate who is able to take a broad perspective on problems, interacts effectively with people across cultures, and asks original research questions.

At the time of application you must hold a university masters’ degree in science and technology studies (STS) or a related field, such as political sciences, anthropology, sociology, history of science, etc. You must have practical and proven experience with qualitative research methods (e.g., ethnography) and participatory research approaches; and an affinity with environmental and public health governance. You are able to work independently and as part of a team. You have good organizational, communication and listening skills. You have a strong research record, excellent writing skills and presentation skills. A strong command of the English language is essential. You must be willing to do fieldwork in one or more of the following areas: Central Africa, Western Europe, East Asia. Knowledge of one or more of the following languages is an advantage: Dutch, French, Luganda, Swahili, Arabic, Japanese.

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. This appointment is for 6 years, with a division of duties as follows: 60% research - 40% education. It is possible to obtain the BKO teaching qualification at the university. The trial period is 18 months.

The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,541 per month during the first year and increases to €3,247 per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 1 FTE.

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);
  • possibility to save holiday hours, for sabbatical leave;
  • and child daycare facilities available on campus.

About 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.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until



Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Dr. Michiel van Oudheusden
Position: Assistant professor

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