PhD candidate for The Footprint of Colonialism (0.8 - 1.0 fte)

Uren per week: 
28 tot 40
Faculteit of dienst: 
Faculteit Geowetenschappen
GEO / Dept SD
Uiterlijk reageren op: 


As a PhD candidate you will work within two of the main research sections of the Copernicus Institute: Innovation Studies and Environmental Sciences at the core of Copernicus themes 'Integrated Modelling, Transitions, Sustainable Land' and 'Sustainable Food'.

About the project
Quantifying the cumulative attribution of countries to biodiversity loss and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions arising from land change is of critical importance to achieve global environmental justice. Estimating countries attribution to past land change via footprint analysis gives clear information for negotiations around loss and damage finances as recently debated at United Nations conference on climate Change (COP27) and biodiversity (COP15).

The aim of this project is to quantify the relative attribution of different countries to biodiversity loss and GHG emissions arising from land change since the colonial period using footprint analysis. This will illustrate to what extent the burden of resource extraction has shifted over time and how colonial legacies impact environmental footprints in present day. We will use an approach that integrates the HYDE database of landcover change with reconstructions of resource flows based on historical data and footprint modelling techniques.


Are you the outstanding and highly motivated candidate with a deep interest in colonial land use change we are searching for? We are especially interested in interdisciplinary scholars with strong interest in history and environmental change together with excellent quantitative skills.

We gladly receive applications from you if you:

  • have an MSc in Environmental Sciences, (Economic) History, Digital Humanities or a related field;
  • have strong affinity with sustainability, land use and history;
  • have strong quantitative modelling and data analyses skills;
  • have excellent communication skills;
  • have proficiency in English;
  • enjoy working in an interdisciplinary and international environment;
  • are willing to travel to case study countries and collaborate with local experts.

You are expected to contribute to the teaching programme of Copernicus (up to 10%).


We offer:

  • a position (0.8-1.0 FTE) for 1 year, with an extension to a total of four years upon successful assessment;
  • a full-time gross salary between €2,770 in the first year and €3,539 in the fourth year of employment in scale P of the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities;
  • 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 from the CAO for Dutch Universities, Utrecht University has a number of its own arrangements. These include agreements on professional development, leave arrangements, sports and cultural schemes and you get discounts on software and other IT products. We also give you the opportunity to expand your terms of employment through the Employment Conditions Selection Model. This is how we encourage you to grow.

    For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University.

    Over de organisatie

    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 Pathways to Sustainability. Sharing science, shaping tomorrow.

    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 research will be carried out within the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development at Utrecht University external link . This institute aims to have a positive impact on the transition to a sustainable society. They do this by developing excellent and relevant knowledge and by educating change agents of the future. They collaborate with citizens, politicians, policy-makers, NGOs and firms to learn from each other and influence decision-making. They work in interdisciplinary teams and have organised their research around three cross-topical themes and five sustainability challenges. The themes, governance, modelling and transitions, represent Utrecht University's signature and cover central aspects of sustainability research and policy. The five topical sustainability challenges, circular economy, sustainable energy, sustainable food, sustainable land and sustainable water, highlight our research strengths.

    Aanvullende informatie

    For more information about this position, please contact: Dr Brian Dermody (Assistant Professor) at or Dr Kees Klein Goldewijk (Assistant Professor) at


    As Utrecht University, we want to be a home for everyone. We value staff with diverse backgrounds, perspectives and identities, including cultural, religious or ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age. We strive to create a safe and inclusive environment in which everyone can flourish and contribute.
    To apply, please send your curriculum vitae, including a letter of motivation via the 'apply now' button.

    Interviews will take place the second week of January.

    Uiterlijk reageren op 14 december 2023.