PhD student in Sustainability Science

Updated: 5 months ago
Deadline: 09 Dec 2022

Ref. No. SU FV-2562-22

at the Stockholm Resilience Centre . Closing date: 12 September 2022.

The Stockholm University is a joint initiative between Stockholm University and the Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics at The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Founded in 2007, the Centre is part of the Faculty of Science at Stockholm University.

The mission of the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC) is to advance research for biosphere stewardship and innovation. Research at the SRC applies a social-ecological systems perspective and resilience thinking to generate knowledge and understanding to enable social-ecological transformations towards sustainable futures. Research is advanced through transdisciplinary collaboration with international leading researchers, research environments worldwide, and environmental actors.

The SRC aims to foster new generations of researchers and academic leaders through our Resilience Research School. The school equips students with a theoretical and practical foundation in Sustainability Science with a focus on resilience in social-ecological systems. Students are encouraged to develop new approaches that integrate methods and concepts from the social, natural and applied sciences. Emphasis is placed on developing students’ ability to define a problem, develop research methods, and communicate research findings within international scientific and science-policy discussions. 

Project description
We seek an enthusiastic, outstanding and highly motivated PhD candidate to join the research project Sand in the Anthropocene: risks and opportunities for global sustainability. The project is funded by a Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development (Formas) grant.

Sand is the planet’s most mined mineral and a fundamental feature of modern society, used for concrete, transport infrastructure, glass, electronics, land reclamation, and more. While sand resources are renewable to a certain degree, todays’ accelerating demand far exceeds the rate at which they can naturally be replenished. Sand mining also increasingly creates negative environmental and social externalities by eroding the marine and terrestrial ecosystems upon which communities depend. Improving sand governance has consequently been described as one of the most pressing resource issues of the 21st century, and one that is essential to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Yet research on this paradigmatic Anthropocene challenge is limited. Precise data on sand extraction and use are lacking, and frameworks to evaluate and promote the sustainability of sand mining remain in their infancy.

This project aims to develop a systemic understanding of the interlinked social, ecological and geological dimensions of sand extraction while proposing scalable approaches to improve its sustainability. The project goals are structured around the transdisciplinary concept of “three types of knowledge”, which emphasizes the need to produce not only knowledge on problems, but also understanding of how to leverage that knowledge to overcome those challenges. Through the production of systems, target and transformation knowledge, the project aims to: (1) assess how, how much, where, by who and for what purpose sand is being extracted and traded, as well as the associated impacts on ecosystems and livelihoods; (2) develop participatory scenarios with diverse stakeholders across the sand value chain to envision desired sustainable sand futures; and (3) identify leverage points at the science-policy-practice interface for the sustainable and equitable transformation of the sector. 

The project has relevant connections to five of the six research themes at the SRC, but the student should also be motivated to explore and acquire knowledge and skills across the broad field of sustainability science. As part of the transdisciplinary environment of Stockholm’s Resilience Centre, the student will have the opportunity to collaborate with and benefit from interactions with other students and researchers with diverse interests and perspectives.

The selected PhD candidate will be employed at the SRC, Stockholm University, while also benefiting from collaboration with, and co-supervision from, researchers at Stanford University and the University of British Columbia.

The interdisciplinary project team includes Dr. Jean-Baptiste Jouffray (Stockholm Resilience Centre), Dr. Jan Kuiper (Stockholm Resilience Centre), Dr. Rafael Schmitt (Stanford University) and Dr. Colette Wabnitz (The University of British Columbia and Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions). 

Qualification requirements
In order to meet the general entry requirements, the applicant must have completed a second-cycle degree, completed courses equivalent to at least 240 higher education credits, of which 60 credits must be in the second cycle, or have otherwise acquired equivalent knowledge in Sweden or elsewhere.

Specific entry requirements for admission to postgraduate studies in Sustainability Science are that the applicant has a total of at least 30 credits, or equivalent, at advanced level in Natural Science, as well as a thesis of at least 30 credits at advanced level in a relevant subject, or equivalent knowledge.

The qualification requirements must be met by the deadline for applications.

The selection among the eligible candidates will be based on:

  • Subject knowledge relevant to the research task.
  • Analytical mindset:
    • Quantitative skills in handling, organizing and analyzing large heterogeneous geospatial and socio-economic data sets (e.g., R, GIS).
    • Experience with qualitative approaches to environmental management (e.g., participative methods, stakeholder analysis, focus groups).
  • Proven records of project-related/peer-reviewed scientific publications.
  • Willingness and ability to work as part of an inter/transdisciplinary team and to undertake integrative research across a range of disciplines and bodies of knowledge.
  • Experience or ambition to operate at the knowledge-action interface.
  • Communication skills, written as well as spoken, for diverse audiences.
  • Ability to work independently and collaboratively (interpersonal skills).
  • The applicant’s personal references.
  • Fluency in English.

Admission Regulations for Doctoral Studies at Stockholm University are available at: and regulations .

Terms of employment
Only a person who will be or has already been admitted to a third-cycle programme may be appointed to a doctoral studentship.

The term of the initial contract may not exceed one year. The employment may be extended for a maximum of two years at a time. However, the total period of employment may not exceed the equivalent of four years of full-time study.

Doctoral students should primarily devote themselves to their own education, but may engage in teaching, research, and administration corresponding to a maximum of 20 % of a full-time position.

Please note that admission decisions cannot be appealed.

Stockholm University strives to be a workplace free from discrimination and with equal opportunities for all.

For more information and questions regarding the project, please contact the Main Supervisor Jean-Baptiste Jouffray, telephone: +46 734 604 889.

For more information about the Resilience Research School or Sustainability Science at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, please contact Prof. Magnus Nyström (Director of PhD programme) telephone: +46 73 707 88 76, , or Prof Garry Peterson (Head of Subject), telephone: +46 73 707 85 92, .

Union representatives
Ingrid Lander (Saco-S), telephone: +46 708 16 26 64, , Alejandra Pizarro Carrasco (Fackförbundet ST/Lärarförbundet), telephone: +46 8 16 34 89, ,  (SEKO), and PhD student representative, .

Applications must be submitted through the Stockholm University's recruitment system. Please include the following information with your application.

  • Your contact details and personal data
  • Your highest degree
  • Your language skills
  • Contact details for 2–3 references

and, in addition, please include the following documents

  • Cover letter (1 page maximum).
  • CV – degrees and other completed courses, work experience and a list of degree projects/theses (2 pages max.).
  • Project proposal/Research proposal describing (2 pages max.):
    • why you are interested in the field/project described in the advertisement
    • why and how you wish to complete the project
    • what makes you suitable for the project in question
  • Degree certificates and grades confirming that you meet the general and specific entry requirements (please combine into 1 file)
  • Letters of recommendation (max. 2, please combine into 1 file)
  • Most relevant degree projects/theses and publications (max. 3, please combine into one file).

It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the application is complete in accordance with the instructions in the advertisement, and that it is submitted before the deadline.

The instructions for applicants are available at: How to apply for a position .

You are welcome to apply!

Stockholm University contributes to the development of sustainable democratic society through knowledge, enlightenment and the pursuit of truth.

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