PhD Positions Graduate Research on Worldwide Challenges

Updated: about 1 month ago
Deadline: 31 Jan 2024

Challenge: Conducting research geared to the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Change: Driving interdisciplinary, international and intersectoral innovation

Impact: Improving the lives of millions of people in Africa and beyond

Would you like to help drive interdisciplinary, international and intersectoral research & innovation to understand and improve the lives of millions of people in Africa and beyond? Join the Netherlands’ leading universities as a PhD student and conduct novel research geared to realising the sustainable development goals on the African continent.

Societal challenges to be tackled under the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially in Africa include food security, accessible and affordable global healthcare, climate change and the energy transition, housing, clean water, political stability, sustainable production and more. Research is crucial to accelerating real-world solutions. As a PhD student your challenge is to realise your vision by conducting high-quality research. Would you like to work with leading scientists, NGOs, companies, government authorities and citizens on the African continent, while developing your competencies and career as a researcher? Join the Graduate Research on Worldwide Challenges (GROW) programme of five leading universities in the Netherlands.

At GROW we have raised funds for 51 PhD positions, including funding from the European Union’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) COFUND programme. With your background in natural sciences, social sciences & humanities or engineering you will put forward your idea for original SDG-oriented research. After selection, your supervisors will help you draw up your research proposal, with which you will cross the boundaries of disciplines and sectors in society. The possibilities are near infinite: you could e.g. conduct research into the water-energy-food nexus, harness the potential of biotechnology for sustainable production, or study the interaction between countries’ legal frameworks and the SDGs, how to improve access to education or how to promote decent employment through multinational businesses.You will conduct your research at Delft University of Technology, University of Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Leiden University or Erasmus University Rotterdam. In addition, you will spend time in Africa to do fieldwork.

As a PhD student, you will enrol at your university’s Graduate School, the programme of which will be tailored to your needs and ambitions. You will also disseminate your knowledge and findings, writing scientific articles and speaking at conferences. Joining one of the participating research groups, you will be coached and supported by dedicated supervisors as well as an advisory team of societal experts. And you may coach undergraduate and graduate students involved in your research. In addition, you will be part of the internationally diverse and inclusive GROW peer community, in which you will share knowledge and experiences with fellow PhD students and their supervisors. We foster an open-minded, supportive and collaborative environment and share an ambition to accelerate sustainable developments and intensify African-European collaboration.

Learn more about GROW .

  • You hold a master’s degree, having graduated within the past ten years, but no doctoral degree.
  • You have a strong connection with and understanding of the African continent. Any experience of working or studying in Africa will be a plus.
  • You thrive on conducting impact-driven, interdisciplinary research, and are keen to learn more about other disciplines, which will help you as at least one of your publications is to be of an interdisciplinary nature..
  • You are willing to work and study in the Netherlands, and travel to Africa.
  • You meet the eligibility criteria as stipulated under the MSCA COFUND requirements.
  • You harness your communication skills to connect with a wide variety of actors, ranging from scientists and decision makers to citizens. And with your entrepreneurial skills you know how to take initiative and open doors to relevant organisations.
  • You have a good command of written and spoken English, as you will be working in an international environment and publishing in English.

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 12-18 months contract – depending on the university of employment – with an official go/no go progress assessment within the timeframe. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 30-36 months assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2770 gross per month in the first year to € 3539 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in your universities’ Graduate School. The Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor and an extra specialized programme within GROW. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

Each participating universities offers a customisable compensation package with e.g. discounts on health insurance and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged.

All universities have welcoming to the Netherlands services. These services provide information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands.

GROW is a network of leading universities in the Netherlands collaborating closely with 22 academic and 17 non-academic partners on the African continent. We invest in training PhD students who have a strong connection with and understanding of the continent, while strengthening African-Dutch partnerships. We strive for collective learning and co-creation, creating a deeper understanding of the challenges, opportunities and their trade-offs. This will lead to more detailed specifications, earlier prototype testing, more opportunities for validation and transforming academic results into real-world solutions.

For GROW, Delft University of Technology, University of Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Leiden University and Erasmus University Rotterdam have teamed up and offer 51 PhD positions to conduct international, interdisciplinary and intersectoral (Triple-I) research. The GROW programme offers PhD students to equip themselves with an advanced, future-proof set of scientific and complementary skills that will help them pursue meaningful careers in an increasingly complex and connected world.

If you would like more information about this position or the selection procedure, please check the guide for applicants on the GROW website. This guide includes the detailed eligibility criteria, evaluation criteria, clear instructions on how to apply, and a description of what a GROW PhD project implies.

REGISTER NOW for our webinar on 5 December 2023, for more in-depth information and the opportunity to ask questions.

Are you one of our PhD candidates? Upload your profile, motivation and ideas for research in the context of Africa’s societal challenges, as well as all other documents as specified, using the dedicated GROW application portal . Please submit your application not later than 31 January 2024, 23.59 hrs CET. The portal will open at 1 December 2023.

In view of the large number of positions available, please note and understand that we will not consider applications that aren’t submitted through this portal.

The first interviews will take place from the end of February to the end of April 2024. Projects may start from July 2024.



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