Postdoctoral researcher HOlistic ENvironmental/Ecological Innovations (0.8 FTE)


Faculty of Spatial Sciences


University of Groningen

The University of Groningen (founded 1614) is a research university with a global outlook and is currently in the top 100 universities worldwide on several influential ranking lists. The University creates and shares knowledge through its outstanding research, scholarship and education. With an academic tradition dating back to 1614 and a rich heritage, the University is a unique academic community with a strong sense of belonging and a culture of innovative education and research.
The Faculty of Spatial Sciences is a growing faculty with an open character that has short lines between staff and students. There are four departments: Cultural Geography, Demography, Economic Geography and Planning. The mission of the faculty is to produce research which is world-leading, distinctive, and policy-relevant to these major issues faced by contemporary society and that is communicated and communicable to the global academy and to societal stakeholders. The distinctive character of the Faculty’s research is that it explore the roles place, space, identity and culture play in the social and spatial transformation of society from a multi-methods perspective. The policy-relevant features of the Faculty’s research derive from the issues investigate. The research is built on evidence and experience, while addressing issues of perception and identity.

Job description

This is a fixed-term, 16 month post-doctoral position that involves the development and application of spatial microsimulation and agent-based models for the analysis of environmentally friendly social attitudes and behaviours.

This position is part of PHOENIX (Participation in HOlistic ENvironmental/Ecological Innovations: the Rise of Citizens Voices for a Greener Europe) a large Horizon 2020 project co-ordinated by the University of Coimbra (Portugal) and involving an international team of researchers across 15 partners across Europe (including the University of Groningen).

The project is aimed at engaging with the European Green Deal (EGD). The EGD transition pathway is a major challenge for Europe, whose targets were elevated following the pandemic outbreak. Its ambitions require joint efforts to harmonise diverse contexts and visions of humans/nature’s relation. Citizens’ engagement, as envisioned in the EU Democracy Action Plan, is a pre-condition for institutional policies and projects success, as behavioral changes and transformations in large populations’ lifestyles and expectations are vital for the EGD’s implementation. PHOENIX, anchored to the pictographic idea of a collective resurrection (stronger and more resilient) from the ashes of a shared tragedy, connects a multidisciplinary group of 15 partners from the different macro-regions of Europe. It builds on a rich, consolidated tradition of participatory processes and refined deliberative methodologies successfully experimented in different policy-making domains, considering they are necessary tools, but not sufficient ones, when it comes to facing the ambitious goals related to ecological transition patterns. Elaborating on their lesson learned, PHOENIX designs an iterative process to increase the transformative potential of Democratic Innovations to address specific topics of the EGD. Through a portfolio of sound methodologies and tools, we will enrich them, augmenting their quality of deliberation and the capacity to foster the readiness to change and the commitment of different actors.

The University of Groningen’s main contribution to PHOENIX (co-ordinated by Prof Dimitris Ballas, the principal investigator representing the University of Groningen as a partner in the consortium) will involve the development and application of suitable socio-spatial simulations, including spatial microsimulation and agent-based models. The successful candidate will join the University Groningen research team which, in addition to Prof Dimitris Ballas, will also include Dr Richard Rijnks (Department of Planning, Faculty of Spatial Sciences) and Dr Daniella Vos (Department of Cultural Geography, Faculty of Spatial Sciences) and Prof Wander Jager (Center for Social Complexity Studies / University College Groningen).

You will be based in the Faculty of Spatial Sciences and will be responsible for liaising with relevant partners and for collecting and analyzing suitable datasets as well as for developing spatial microsimulation and agent-based models. You will also take the lead in the analysis of model outputs and writing up the results as scientific manuscripts.


We are looking for candidates who have:

• a PhD in the area social sciences (with a strong quantitative social science component and ideally in social simulations using spatial microsimulation and agent-based models)
• a high degree of English proficiency
• experience with coding, ideally in R and NetLogo • familiarity with social simulation theory and applications (and especially spatial microsimulation and agent-based modelling).

Conditions of employment

Contract length: 16 months.

We offer you in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

• a salary, depending on qualifications and work experience, with a minimum of € 3,420 (salary scale 10) up to a maximum of € 5,230 (salary scale 11 ) gross per month for a full-time position
• excluding 8% holiday allowance and an 8.3% year-end bonus, participation in a pension scheme for employees and excellent secondary benefits. We offer 232 holiday hours per calendar year for a full-time employment
• an appointment on a temporary basis for 16 months.

For more detailed information about working conditions and working for the University of Groningen, please check:

Starting date: 1 March, 2022

Job Application

Do you meet our qualification criteria? If yes, your application should include:

• a motivation letter stating your motivation to apply for the position and your key qualities relevant for this position [max 1 page]
• a brief, up-to-date curriculum vitae that focuses on aspects that are directly relevant to the position
• contact information of two academic references. Please do not submit letters of reference. If necessary, we will contact the referees ourselves.

You can submit your application until 20 January / before 21 January 2022 00.00h Dutch local time (CET) by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

It is anticipated that interviews will be held within the first two weeks of February, 2022.

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our University. We are committed to building a diverse faculty so you are encouraged to apply. Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP), and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers,

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.

Additional information

For additional information, please contact:

Prof. Dimitris Ballas

Prof. Wander Jager

In your application, please always include the job opening ID 222025

Digital application form