Postdoctoral Scholar Fellowship: Equity and Justice in the ‘Blue Economy’

Updated: 2 months ago
Location: Seattle, WASHINGTON

Position Overview

School / Campus / College: College of the Environment

Organization: EarthLab

Title: Postdoctoral Scholar Fellowship: Equity and Justice in the ‘Blue Economy’

Position Details
Position Description

Postdoctoral scholars are represented by UAW 4121 and are subject to the collective bargaining agreement, unless agreed exclusion criteria apply. For more information, please visit the University of Washington Labor Relations website.

The Nippon Foundation Ocean Nexus Center, a new member organization of EarthLab in the College of the Environment at the University of Washington, invites applications for a highly motivated, independent and creative Postdoctoral Research Scholar. This is a full-time (100% FTE), 12-month term appointment, with potential for extension up to three years based on performance and continued funding. 

The Ocean Nexus Center aims to develop evidence-based policies for sustainable and equitable ocean and society relationships by creating fellowship programs, engaging in interdisciplinary research, developing an innovative ocean network, and through building effective science communication capacity.

The Ocean Nexus Center, EarthLab, and the University of Washington (UW) are committed to developing a diverse and culturally aware workplace, and the promotion of diversity and inclusivity among our students, faculty, staff, and public. Thus, we are strongly seeking candidates whose experiences have prepared them to fulfill our commitment to inclusion and have given them the confidence to fully engage audiences from a wide spectrum of backgrounds. The UW is located in the greater Seattle metropolitan area, with a dynamic, multicultural community of 3.7 million people and a range of ecosystems from mountains to ocean. The UW serves a diverse population of 80,000 students, faculty and staff, including 25% first-generation college students and faculty from over 70 countries. Over 25% of UW students receive need-based federal financial aid. The UW is a recipient of a National Science Foundation ADVANCE Institutional Transformation Award to increase the advancement of women faculty in science, engineering, and math (see

As part of a new research program on Ocean Equity, Dr. Yoshitaka Ota, Director of the Ocean Nexus Center, is seeking a Postdoctoral Research Scholar to work within a new team of transdisciplinary scholars investigating the relationships between people and the sea, with an explicit aim to address equity and justice issues in the emergent ‘blue economy’ agenda. The postdoc will be located at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA, under the direct supervision of Dr. Ota, but will be co-supervised by Dr. Edward H. Allison, of the WorldFish Center, in Penang, Malaysia.

The position requires a Ph.D. or foreign equivalent in an area such as human geography, area studies, political ecology, development studies, policy analysis, political economy or applied anthropology with demonstrated experience conducting research, analysis, and synthesis related to ocean policy. The position requires demonstrated experience in the co-creation of knowledge, co-definition of research problems, and successfully linking science and decision-making. In addition, the position requires demonstrated success in engagement with diverse stakeholders, a commitment to enhancing diversity, and superior writing and oral communication skills. Personal experience of campaigning for justice is considered an asset.

Salary will be dependent on qualifications and experience.

Job Duties:

  •  Co-lead, with Drs. Allison and Ota, a program of research to investigate how the planning and implementation of the ‘blue economy’ is – or is not – accounting for equity in the distribution of benefits expected from the ‘oceanic turn’ in macroeconomic development and ‘green growth’.
  • Analyse the influence of regional and global-level processes and institutions on the creation of ‘blue economy’ and ‘blue growth’ policy narratives, as well as on alternative formulations (e.g. ‘blue justice’, ‘blue commons’, ‘blue communties’ etc). 
  • For case-study geographies, map networks of individuals and organizations influential at national and sub-national levels in determining the visions, with a particular focus on assessing likely equity outcomes. This will involve piloting and developing a new ‘equity impact assessment’ methodology, as part of a program-wide activity to develop an ‘Ocean Equity Index’.
  • Conduct preliminary analysis of past, on-going and anticipated impacts of coastal and maritime economic development activities in historically marginalized ocean-dependent communities (e.g. urban and peri-urban coastal slum communities, maritime sector labour forces from developing countries, small-scale fishing communities, coastal indigenous communities), with emphasis on how new and emergent ocean industries (e.g. renewable energy, marine aquaculture, blue carbon markets) are affecting their lifeworlds.
  • The fellow will be expected to lead the detailed development of methodology. Case studies will be selected from a shortlist of countries/regions according to the PIs’ and Fellow’s interests and experiences. These are likely to include one Sub-Saharan Africa case study and one Asia or Pacific Islands case study. The fellow will be expected to carry out a minimum of two case studies, while lending support and guidance to an evolving network of students and postdoctoral research fellows addressing these issues in other geographies.
  • In partnership with other members of the Nexus program team, conduct synthesis and analysis of global policies and discourses in support of, or opposing, diverse visions for the future ocean economy. These include the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, The Friends of Ocean Action, The Global Oceans Coalition, and the Blue Justice for Small Scale Fisheries social movement. The aim of this work is to influence global processes to better account for equity and justice in programs largely focused on environmental and economic dimensions of sustainable development.

  • Qualifications
    • Independent, creative scholar who also shows strong teamwork skills. 
    • PhD and publication record in fields such as human geography, political ecology, development studies, policy analysis, political economy, and/or applied anthropology.
    • Ability and interest to work at multiple spatial and organizational scales, from fieldwork in remote coastal locations to the conference halls of the United Nations. 
    • Epistemologically pluralistic, with interests in working with both quantitative and qualitative, primary and secondary data.
    • Able to work diplomatically and effectively with people across a wide range of intersectional contexts – from fisherfolk grassroots activists to oil company CEOs, in North America, Oceana, East and SE Asia and Africa.
    • Personal experience of campaigning for justice is considered an asset, but applicants also need to be able to listen with empathy and tolerance to a wide range of political and moral views that differ from their own.
    • Existing skills in, or demonstrable ability and willingness to learn: discourse analysis, network analysis, political economy analysis, biographic life history methods.

    Desired skills and experience:

    • Science communication training/experience.
    • One to three years’ experience working at the interface of ocean science and decision-making.
    • Demonstrated experience conducting research, assessment, and stakeholder engagement related to climate change impacts and/or adaptation.
    • Competence in more than one language.
    • Willingness and ability to travel internationally.
    • Experience of working on ocean and coastal issues is an asset but not essential.
    • Experience in working in geographies of interest (Asia-Pacific, Sub-Saharan Africa) is an asset but not essential. 


    For questions about this position, please contact Kate Crosman at . For technical issues or assistance with disability accommodations regarding the application process, please contact Adrienne Karpov at .

    Applicants should apply via Interfolio and should submit a statement of experience and interest, including a description of your preparation for fulfilling the UW/EarthLab commitment to inclusion, and a current curriculum vitae. It is our intent to have this position begin on August 1, 2020, therefore preference will be given to applications received by June 1, 2020.

    Equal Employment Opportunity Statement

    University of Washington is an affirmative action and equal opportunity employer. All
    qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, creed,
    religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, pregnancy, genetic information,
    gender identity or expression, age, disability, or protected veteran status.

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