PhD position 'Migration and Innovation: a Historical Perspective'(1.0 FTE)

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PhD position 'Migration and Innovation: a Historical Perspective'(1.0 FTE)

Job description
Utrecht University invites applicants for a PhD position funded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO), under the Open Competition Programme. The recruited PHD will join the project “Migration and Innovation: a Historical Perspective” as PhD researchers of the Department of Human Geography and Planning at the Faculty of Geosciences (curriculum Economic Geography).
This project is a collaborative effort of Utrecht University jointly with the University of Pavia and Bocconi University in Italy.  The project investigates the role of (high skilled) migration for international knowledge diffusion during a specific historical event, the so called Age of Mass Migration (1850 – 1924), when 35 million people, mainly Europeans, migrated to the US in search of a better life. The causes and economic impact of the age of mass migration have been widely studied, however, less is known about the link between migration and innovation, despite its relevance. This project aims at filling this gap by providing quantitative evidence based on unique data sources on the short and long-term impact of migration in US regions and in migrants’ countries of origin. The project will build unique datasets, which rely on several data sources (among US historical patents, US full count historical census (IPUMS), International historical census data, biographical information of scientists in the US).
Throughout the project, the appointed candidate will be expected to pay short and long-term visits to partner organisations of the project in order to carry out training and research-related activities.
Tasks of the PhD researchers consist of (but are not limited to):
  • Conducting scientific research on the topic of the project;
  • Quantitative data analyses;
  • Publishing results in scientific journals and presentation in high-quality international conferences in these fields;
  • Collaboration with academic partners;
  • Developing teaching skills, students are expected to contribute to the teaching programme of the department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning to a limited degree (up to 10%). It may also involve the supervision of Master projects;
  • Secondment at Bocconi University and University of Pavia to connect with co-supervisor and research group;
  • Carrying out research in the field of migration and innovation using quantitative methodologies.

Your responsibilities:
  • Meet the goals/deadlines set out in the project proposal;
  • Complete a PhD thesis within the 4-year contract period.

We seek a highly motivated PhD candidate who has a strong interest in thinking about regional diversification processes, specifically about the role of talents in this process, with:
  • An MSc degree in Economic Geography, Economics or related fields;
  • A strong affinity and motivation for doing basic scientific research in an interdisciplinary setting;
  • An open mind, the ability to think creatively and outside the box;
  • Strong quantitative skills;
  • An interest in academic theory development and abstraction as well as theory application;
  • Affinity with computer programming and related programmes (R, Python); 
  • An independent, pro-active working style;
  • Motivation to work in an international team with outside collaborators;
  • Excellent scientific communication skills (written and verbally) in English.

The working language is English and researchers must be able to demonstrate their ability to work and write in the English language. All deliverables for the project and all network meetings and training activities will be conducted in English. Any other language requirements will be specified by individual host institutions.

You will be offered a temporary position (1.0 FTE), initially for one year with an extension to a total of four years upon a successful assessment in the first year, and with the specific intent that it results in a doctorate within this period. The gross salary ranges between €2,541 in the first year and €3,247 in the fourth year of employment (scale P according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) per month for a full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% per year.
In addition, Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions, including an attractive retirement scheme, (partly paid) parental leave and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University .

About the organization
A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.
Utrecht University's Faculty of Geosciences studies the Earth: from the Earth's core to its surface, including man's spatial and material utilisation of the Earth - always with a focus on sustainability and innovation. With 3,400 students (BSc and MSc) and 720 staff, the Faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The Faculty of Geosciences is organised in four Departments: Earth Sciences, Human Geography & Spatial Planning, Physical Geography, and Sustainable Development.
The Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning has its focus on the enhancement of long-term economic developments of cities, how to cope with social inequalities, and how to accelerate sustainability transitions of cities and infrastructures. Research on these topics takes place within our research programme “Urban Futures: Transitions Towards Economic and Social Sustainability for Cities”. The Economic Geography section is strong in teaching and research in Evolutionary Economic Geography in which staff members are internationally recognized leaders. Current projects and expertise cover topics like regional inequality, sustainability and regional innovation policies, resilience of regions to crises like COVID, institutions and regional development. The section also specializes in quantitative methods and seeks to further develop its expertise in artificial intelligence and data science.
Our research programme is the basis for our Research Master's Human Geography and Geographical Information Management and Applications and Professional Master's in Spatial Planning, Human Geography and International Development Studies. The Department also runs a large and highly appreciated Bachelor's programme and is part of the Netherlands Graduate School of Urban and Regional Research for PhD candidates.

Additional information
For more information about this position, please contact Andrea Morrison, via or Ron Boschma, via .
Are you an international applicant? Our International Service Desk can answer your questions about living in the Netherlands as international staff .

Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives.
To apply, please send your curriculum vitae, including a letter of motivation and a letter of reference via the 'apply' button.
The project starts preferably in April/May 2023;

The application deadline is
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