PostDoc position on Conditions shaping transformational climate change adaptation at TU Delft

Job description

Societies have always been adapting to changing environments. As hazards intensify in frequency and severity with climate change, adaptation strategies that proved successful in the past face limits. This is especially relevant for floods and sea level rise, which increasingly call for transformational adaptation – new radical grand changes in societal responses to hazards. However, transformational adaptation is more disruptive, more expensive in the short-run, and less socially-acceptable compared to incremental adaptation. The ambition of the VIDI project is to provide new insights into social tipping points in adaptation to changing climate, and to develop datasets and modeling methods to account for a shift from incremental to transformational adaptation in policy assessments.

This PostDoc position focuses on the systematic analysis of narratives in historic, anthropological, sociology and public administration literature about large disasters in the past, and participatory literature on current views and potential responses to anticipated future floods. The goal is to identify socio-economic factors, conditions, and feedbacks that enable transformational changes in societies in response to environmental shocks. This systematic review will catalogue core socio-economic factors and processes differentiating between incremental and transformational societal responses to hazards. Given that this literature is vast and largely qualitative, the conventional systematic review will be complemented with AI-powered methods for an automated content analysis. Furthermore, the PostDoc will pursue an in-depth analysis of several case-studies of transformational societal responses to floods in the Netherlands and USA to elicit the necessary and sufficient conditions that shape social tipping points. The PostDoc researcher could also engage in co-supervision of two PhD students that join the VIDI team shortly after.

You will be part of the Policy Analysis Section in the Department of Multi-Actor Systems at the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management. The Department hosts about 100+ scholars with policy analysis and computer science background specialized in coupled socio-technical-environmental systems. The Policy Analysis Section balances qualitative and quantitative approaches, and is very active in the newly launched Delft Climate Action Program


The ideal candidate will possess the following:

  • PhD degree in History, Anthropology, Sociology or Public Administration. We would also consider candidates with a PhD degree in Environmental or Computer Sciences and interests in the above mentioned social sciences;
  • Preparedness to apply existing text mining methods for automating the analysis of literature is an advantage as is experience with programming (e.g. Python, Java, C++ or other language);
  • Domain knowledge in the field of water management, climate change or flood risk policy is an asset;
  • Solid problem-solving skills and capacity to take the initiative;
  • Ability to work well within a multidisciplinary team;
  • Proven excellent written and verbal English communication skills (do mention three of your key publications in the motivation letter).    

For more information and to apply:

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