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PhD position in ‘Participatory modelling of socio-environmental dynamics on anthropogenic sandy shores’ (4 years, full-time)

Job description

This position is one of the four that are part of the NWO funded project “ReAShore: Resilient Anthropogenic Shores”. In this project, we will investigate the socio-bio-physical dynamics of anthropogenic sandy shores impacted by multi-functional, nature-based solutions (NBS). We will be applying a Living Lab approach, by documenting and analyzing interactions between evolving anthropogenic shores (Sand Motor and Hondsbossche Duinen) and people that use and manage these NBS-modified landscapes. The ReAShore project aims to identify limits to, and optima in the multi-functionality of the NBS, and will explore how various stakeholders can influence the development of the NBS taking into account the social and ecological goals. Together with consortium partners from public and private sectors, we will co-create guidelines, design procedures and visualization tools for management and maintenance of multi-functional NBS.

This research is a collaborative effort that includes faculty and students from the University of Twente (leading the project), Wageningen University, Basque Center of Climate Change BC3 and HZ University of Applied Sciences, as well as project partners from industry and coastal authorities.

Project description

The PhD student will be responsible for research on socio-environmental systems associated with NBS. The research will focus on understanding and modeling of the social dynamics emerging in NBS-modified landscapes. As part of the research process, a series of stakeholder workshops using a Living Lab approach, will be conducted in various NBS sites in the Dutch Delta. In these workshops the candidate will conduct participatory modelling work, engaging with different stakeholders and eliciting public opinion about the various NBS-type interventions. The main goal will be to identify individual and social behavioral patterns and preferences, and to learn how collective actions may influence and be influenced by coastal developments. This will include documenting and analyzing interactions between evolving NBS-modified coastal landscapes and the use and management of this landscape. The work will produce a set of models (qualitative and quantitative) to explore the potential effects of NBS on social processes.

Research will include:

  • Processing and analyzing qualitative and quantitative data;
  • Collecting data on use and management of the SandMotor and Hondsbossche Duinen; Conducting interviews and workshops, working with focus groups;
  • Running and exploring existing models;
  • Designing and building models of socio-environmental systems, analyzing them and running scenarios;
  • Taking part in project meetings and discussions;
  • Integrating, communicating and disseminating knowledge, writing papers and reports.

Your profile

Applicants must have an MSc or equivalent degree in such areas as behavioral science, social sciences, mathematics or geo-informatics.  If coming from the computer science background, affinity with ecological and socio-environmental systems is preferred. If the background is from ecology or social sciences, then strong quantitative skills, modeling and programming experience are expected. We look for a candidate with good communication skills and willingness and ability to work in a collaborative and interdisciplinary team. Furthermore, the candidate should be proficient in English, (knowledge of Dutch is a plus), have excellent scientific writing and planning skills and be an enthusiastic team player.


Your application should include a cover letter (emphasizing your specific interest, qualifications and motivation to apply for this position), a Curriculum Vitae, including a list of all MSc courses and grades obtained, and contact information of two references that may be consulted. If applicable, also add a list of publications.

Your application should be submitted through the button below no later than March 8th 2020.

For more information about this vacancy you can contact prof dr. Kathelijne Wijnberg, (, telephone: +31 (0)53 - 489 4701). More information about the Water Engineering and Management Department is available at

Our offer

We offer a full-time PhD position for 4 years in a stimulating scientific environment, where you will join an enthusiastic research team on nature-based engineering. The salary for a PhD candidate is € 2325,- gross per month for the first year and increases to a maximum of € 2972,- gross per month in the fourth year (in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities). The University of Twente provides excellent facilities for professional and personal development, a holiday allowance (8%), an end-of-year bonus (8.3%) and a number of additional benefits.

The organization

The University of Twente. We stand for life sciences and technology. High tech and human touch. Education and research that matter. New technology which leads change, innovation and progress in society. The University of Twente is the only campus university of the Netherlands; divided over five faculties we provide more than fifty educational programmes. We have a strong focus on personal development and talented researchers are given scope for carrying out groundbreaking research.

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our company. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status or disability status. Because of our diversity values we do particularly support women to apply.

The Faculty of Engineering Technology (ET)
is one of the five faculties of the University of Twente. ET combines Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Industrial Design Engineering. Our faculty has approximately 1800 bachelor and master students, 400 employees and 150 PhD candidates. The departments of the faculty cooperatively conduct the educational programmes and participate in interdisciplinary research projects, programmes and the research institutes: Mesa+ Institute, TechMed Centra and Digital Society Institute.

PhD position in ‘Participatory modelling of socio-environmental dynamics on anthropogenic sandy shores’ (4 years, full-time)
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