PhD position Psychological and legal aspects of energy communities (1.0 FTE)


Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences


University of Groningen

Since its foundation in 1614, the University of Groningen has established an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative university offering high-quality teaching and research. Its 36.000 students are encouraged to develop their own individual talents through challenging study- and career paths. The University of Groningen is an international centre of knowledge: It belongs to the best research universities in Europe and is allied with prestigious partner universities and networks worldwide.

Faculty of Behavioral and Social Sciences
The Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences is a centre of knowledge focusing on individuals and society. The faculty studies issues relating to human behaviour, and the relationships between people and society. This includes the study of how people function under normal circumstances, of the problems encountered by individuals or groups, and how these can be resolved or prevented. The Department of Psychology is part of the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences, and offers Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes in both Dutch and English to over 3.000 students.

Faculty of Law
The Faculty of Law is a modern, internationally oriented institution that has existed for nearly four centuries. As it measures itself amongst the best law faculties in Europe, advanced systems of quality control have been implemented to continuously improve the Faculty’s research and education. Although the Faculty has grown to become one of the largest law faculties in the Netherlands, it has kept a friendly and informal atmosphere where good relations exist between staff and students.

Job description

Within an interdisciplinary project between psychology and law, we are seeking for a PhD candidate that researches the synergies between psychology insights into how people want to interact with decision-making and laws on public participation in the context of energy communities. In the transition towards carbon-free societies in the European Union (EU), new forms of cooperations of various local stakeholders are emerging often described as ‘energy communities’ which can be characterised by bottom-up governance structures and goals serving the wider welfare of the community. Energy communities are widely seen as a potentially successful tool to involve people more in decision-making and thereby increase public support for the energy transition.

A key shortcoming, however, remains the mismatch between how people want to participate in decision-making and energy communities, and the legal requirements for participation procedures in the energy domain. We yet know little about how to organise accessibility, governance structures, and democratic processes of energy communities so that they can foster effective public participation in decision-making and enhance inclusiveness and public acceptability of the energy transition. The key research questions in this project include: how do people want to participate in decision-making about the energy transition?; when do energy communities foster effective public participation in decision-making and public acceptability of the energy transition?; how are those preferences reflected in the EU and selected national legal frameworks on participation in the energy sector, in particular for energy communities?; and how should those legal frameworks be adjusted in order to enable constructive decision-making accounting for people’s preferences within energy communities?

The PhD candidate will conduct public surveys and interviews to identify people’s preferences for participation in decision-making about the energy transition and in energy communities. The PhD candidate will also conduct laboratory experiments to test the effects of different configurations of energy communities on people’s perceived procedural fairness and public acceptability of the energy transition. The PhD candidate will analyse the relevant legal frameworks for energy communities as entities in the energy sector. On the basis of the findings, the project will propose the changes needed in the EU and selected national legal frameworks of EU Member States in order enable constructive decision-making accounting for people’s preferences within energy communities. Besides scientific innovation, the research aims at improving the democratic effectiveness of energy communities, contributing to increased acceptability and participation of citizens in the energy transition.


We expect applicants to fulfil the following requirements:

• completed or be close to completing a Master’s degree in a relevant social-sciences discipline, such as psychology, sociology, spatial planning, public administration, political sciences
• knowledge on quantitative research methods with human subjects; and ability to understand the legal aspects of the energy sector and in particular energy communities
• knowledge on qualitative methods with human subjects is a plus preferably knowledge on public participation in the context of the energy sector
• eagerness to publish international articles and write a dissertation
• enthusiasm and willingness to work in an interdisciplinary research team
• demonstrable competences as conceptual capacity, presenting, monitoring, planning and organizing
• good social and communication skills
• excellent command of English and academic writing skills.

Conditions of employment

Contract length: 48 months.

We offer you, following the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

• a salary of € 2,541 gross per month in the first year of the appointment, rising to € 3,247 gross per month in the fourth year for a full-time position
• a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income and an 8.3% year-end bonus
• a pension scheme and excellent secondary terms of employment
• a temporary position of 1.0 FTE for a period of four years. You will first be appointed for a period of 12 months. After a positive evaluation, the contract will be extended for the remaining period.

Envisaged starting date: December 2022

Job Application

The application should include the following documents:

• a cover letter explaining your motivation for the position
• CV
• the names and contact details of two referees and an indication of whether we can contact them at this stage
• overview of grades
• and preferably writing samples (e.g. Master thesis).

You may apply for this position until 16 October 11:59pm / before 17 October 2022 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

Only complete applications submitted by the deadline will be taken into consideration.

The interviews for the position are scheduled for end October 2022.

The University of Groningen strives to be a university in which students and staff are respected and feel at home, regardless of differences in background, experiences, perspectives, and identities. We believe that working on our core values of inclusion and equality are a joint responsibility and we are constructively working on creating a socially safe environment. Diversity among students and staff members enriches academic debate and contributes to the quality of our teaching and research. We therefore invite applicants from underrepresented groups in particular to apply. For more information, see also our diversity policy webpage:[…]/

Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP): and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers: provide career services for partners of new faculty members moving to Groningen.

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.

Additional information

For additional information, please contact:

Dr Goda Perlaviciute, Associate Professor Environmental Psychology

Dr Lea Diestelmeier, Assistant Professor Energy Law, Groningen Centre of Energy Law and Sustainabili

In your application, please always include the job opening ID 222606

Digital application form