Postdoc in Public Engagement with Climate Change (1.0 fte)

Hours per week: 
38 to 40
Faculty of Science
Departement Wiskunde, Freudenthal Instituut
Application deadline: 

Job description

Climate change is one of today’s most pressing societal challenges, yet it is still contested, also in the Netherlands. While efforts are underway to place climate change science into Dutch and international formal education such as secondary school curricula, informal education on climate change science is far less structured. Many different projects aim to support public engagement and other forms of informal education with climate change science to a broad audience from school pupils to concerned citizens.

Attempts to measure the effectiveness of such projects in terms of changing knowledge, attitudes, and behaviour of citizens, are sparse. Therefore, we remain uncertain whether resources allocated to public engagement are well spent. For a proper and systematic evaluation there is a need for an established general framework for assessing public engagement activities. Such a framework will allow comparing the efficacy of different projects, and devising and evaluating strategies for improving particular projects.

In this postdoc project, you will lead an effort into developing such a framework and accompanying measuring instruments for the effectivity of Public Engagement and other forms of informal education projects that focus on climate change science.

You will investigate one to two case projects of public engagement, with the goal to develop a framework for assessing the impact and efficacy of informal education with climate change science. You will test this framework by measuring changes in knowledge, attitude and behaviour in the target population. Special attention will be given to diversity within the community, and how the efficacy of informal education can be optimised across different societal groups.

Eventually you will use this framework to further develop and validate a set of measuring instruments to assess the efficacy of informal education on climate change science. These could include questionnaires for the audience of the informal education projects, as well as interview scripts, quizzes and potentially even simple games.


Ideally you as candidate are driven and have a collaborative spirit. You preferably bring: 

  • a PhD in a field related to science communication, public engagement or informal education;
  • experience in quantitative and qualitative analysis of the efficacy of public engagement;
  • the ability to cooperate within a wider and interdisciplinary research team;
  • excellent level of written and spoken English;
  • Preferably you also have a proven affinity with public engagement and climate science and at least a basic knowledge of the Dutch language so that you can attend local Public Engagement Activities.


  • A full-time position for one year with a flexible start date;
  • a full-time gross salary ranging from €2,960 to €4,670 in scale 10;
  • benefits including 8% holiday bonus and 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave, and flexible employment conditions based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities.

In addition to the employment conditions laid down in the CAO for Dutch Universities, Utrecht University has a number of its own arrangements. For example, there are agreements on professional development, leave arrangements and sports. We also give you the opportunity to expand your terms of employment yourself via the Employment Conditions Selection Model. This is how we like to encourage you to continue to grow. For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University.

About the organisation

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 strategic themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

At the Faculty of Science there are 6 departments to make a fundamental connection with: Biology, Chemistry, Information and Computing Sciences, Mathematics, Pharmaceutical Sciences and Physics. Each of these is made up of distinct institutes that work together to focus on answering some of humanity’s most pressing problems. More fundamental still are the individual research groups – the building blocks of our ambitious scientific projects. For more information, please visit working at the Faculty of Science

You will work at the Freudenthal Institute of Utrecht University an internationally leading institute in the field of science didactics and the history and philosophy of science. The FI is part of the Faculty of Science and employs approximately 75 professionals, including a number of young people who are conducting postdoctoral research just like you. Within the FI, you will work in the science communication and the science education groups. The science communication group, which includes Erik van Sebille, the adviser for this project, focusses on the Science in Society research theme within the broader topic of Scientific and Mathematical Literacy in Life and Society.

You will also connect with the other group of Erik van Sebille, working on oceans and climate at the Institute for Marine and Atmospheric research, and with interdisciplinary marine scientists through the Pathways to Sustainability Strategic Research Theme at Utrecht University, and with the Public Engagement track within the UU Open Science Programme.

Additional information

For more information about this position, please contact:

Do you have a question about the application procedure? Please send an email to

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 the names, telephone numbers, and email addresses of at least two references, via the ‘apply’ button.

If this specific opportunity isn’t for you, but you know someone else who may be interested, please forward this vacancy to them.

Some connections are fundamental – Be one of them

The application deadline is 17 April 2023.