Research School for Socio-Economic and
Natural Sciences of the Environment
Research School for Socio-Economic and
Natural Sciences of the Environment

PhD position Uptake Strategies for Dutch Caribbean coral reef research, Utrecht University

Application deadline: 15 March 2021

The Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development of Utrecht University is seeking a highly motivated, high-potential PhD candidate to work within the SEALINK programme on Dutch Caribbean coral reef research. This programme is led by Dr Mark Vermeij (UvA) who is joined, among others, by partners from Utrecht University, TU Delft, WUR, NIOZ, University of Curacao, CNSI, Carmabi, and a wide range of other local partners. Your PhD project will focus on the optimization of research-for-development and research uptake strategies. This is a social science position that combines fundamental theoretical questions with practice oriented action research. The SEALINK Programme will create the first comprehensive understanding of ocean pollution and coral reef health in the Dutch Caribbean. Your PhD project would be one out of a total of nine PhD projects within SEALINK. The SEALINK programme will follow water and pollutants (including sewage, fertilizer, and human pathogens) from land to sea. Subsequently, it will seek to understand the effects of hydrodynamics on the distribution of these substances in nearby shore water, and the effects thereof on processes driving coral reef functioning. The insights thus generated are used for the design and testing of coral reef management options. Your PhD project will look for ways to optimize the uptake and use by relevant stakeholders of the SEALINK programme’s scientific output. In doing so, you will draw upon and contribute to fundamental theory related with policy science interfaces, transdisciplinarity and the impact of complex science on environmental governance.

Research-for-development or research uptake strategies are the object of your study – i.e. your work will contribute to fundamental theory development and practical implications, generically defined. At the same time, by studying research uptake strategies in the particular context of SEALINK, your work will contribute to the positive and lasting impact of SEALINK's scientific output on coral reef management, public policy and citizen behaviour in the Dutch Caribbean.


In order to be successful you will have to:

  • hold a Master's degree in Environmental Studies, Environmental Sciences, Sustainability Science, Political Science, Public Administration, Sociology, or a related social science discipline;
  • have proven experience and affinity with the topics that are central to your research as stipulated in the job description.

Your PhD project will be partly based on action research, which means that beyond being fluent in more conventional research design and methods and familiar with fundamental theory, you are also expected to organize and conduct stakeholder workshops and other types of outreach activities with scientists, managers, policy makers and citizens. You will be assessed on your estimated ability to conduct action research of this kind. In addition, besides a familiarity with environmental governance broadly defined, it would be an advantage if you have knowledge of and/or experience in the research area, and with the specific topic of marine conservation. Obviously, you should be proficient in English and have excellent scientific writing and presenting skills. Speaking or understanding Papiamento would be a plus. Being part of a large programme with many peers and senior Researchers you of course will need to be an enthusiastic teamplayer. As you will be dealing directly and frequently with a large variety of diverse stakeholders, having excellent communicational skills is key. Our assessment of your application will take these particular abilities into account as well.

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Tuesday 16 February 2021