Postdoc and Lecturer in Co-learning and Transdisciplinary Knowledge Production

Are you a postdoctoral researcher in sociology of knowledge or related? Would you like to explore how scientific and non-scientific insights can be combined for concrete societal change? Then please apply at the Athena Institute of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU).

FTE: 0.8 - 1

Job description

Today’s grand challenges ask for a clever integration of widely diverse types of knowledge. This presents both practical and epistemological questions. In this postdoctoral research project, you address these by studying citizen-driven initiatives on the food-energy interface. You analyze them both on a local level and on a national and supra-national level. For this, you are involved in Athena’s Community Service Learning programme, and in the EU-funded project FOSTER. FOSTER’s goal is to create a new Knowledge and Innovation governance structure for Europe’s food system. This offers a unique opportunity to study interactions and co-learning between academically trained scientists and citizen scientists and other stakeholders.

In the context of this research, you actively contribute to and promote collaborations between VU’s problem-driven teaching programmes and these local, citizen-driven initatives. You also design and facilitate multi-actor processes for knowledge exchange and integration amongst the citizen initiatives, municipalities, and knowledge institutes. You get the opportunity to develop as a researcher in the field of citizen science, citizen participation, epistemological pluralism and governance, in the domains of food- and agriculture and energy. You publish papers in high-quality academic journals and acquire research funding. Among your tasks is also the co-supervision of a PhD dedicated to FOSTER’s research on broadening the knowledge base in support of Europe’s food system transformation. Within the Athena Institute, you are part of a growing, vibrant research team. We are at the forefront of transdisciplinary research on sustainability transitions and methodological innovation.

Your duties

  • developing a research programme in transdisciplinary knowledge production and co-learning in the area of food system transformation
  • supervision of junior researchers and a PhD candidate
  • teaching master students, including course coordination and thesis supervision, in courses that are part of the Institute’s transdisciplinary teaching portfolio
  • linking up education/research efforts at VU with the real-world issues addressed in citizen-driven initiatives. You also assess and evaluate the added value of VU involvement
  • publishing articles in high quality journals. You also communicate research findings and insights via other, more widely accessible forms of writing and presenting
  • contributing to administrative tasks and responsibilities of the Athena Institute
  • engaging with stakeholders outside of academia in co-learning processes
  • contributing to a pleasant, diverse, and safe work environment at the Athena Institute


  • you have a PhD in sociology of knowledge, system innovation, science & technology studies, public policy or public sector transformation, organizational change (incl. communities of practice, reflective practitioners), knowledge cocreation or related
  • you have experience with designing and facilitating focus group discussions and reflection sessions as part of change processes. You are familiar with participatory research methodologies, such as reflexive monitoring in action, learning histories, most significant change techniques
  • you hold a network of relevant (inter)national contacts and you are a team player
  • you have teaching skills and are an engaged and inspiring lecturer, as demonstrated by student evaluations
  • you have an excellent command of English, and a good command of Dutch
  • you are willing to travel within the Netherlands and abroad

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. On full-time basis the remuneration amounts to a minimum gross monthly salary of € 3.703,- (scale 10-5) and a maximum of € 4.670,- (scale 10-12), depending on your education and relevant experience. The job profile (reseacher 4) is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 0,8 FTE.
The initial employment contract will affect a period of 1 year, with the possibility of extension. The maximum duration of the appointment is a period of 4 years.

Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • solid pension scheme (ABP)
  • possibility to save holiday hours, for sabbatical leave
  • child daycare facilities available on campus

About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 30,000 students. We employ over 5,500 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science
The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to more than 11,000 students.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter by July 4, 2022.

The best selected candidates will receive an invitation for interviews. The first interviews will take place online or on site before July 16, 2022. Candidates will be asked to prepare a short presentation on their current research & teaching activities. The second interview round will be on-site at VU Amsterdam in the last weeks of August.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Dr. Eduardo Muniz Pereira Urias or Dr. Anne Loeber
E-mail:, or

Relocation support      
If you have any questions regarding moving to Amsterdam, and working at VU Amsterdam, you may contact:

Sara Veldhorst
Relocation Advisor at VU Amsterdam 

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Job area: Postdoc
Educational Level: Postdoc
VU unit: Faculty of Science
Contract type: Temporary with prospects to extension
Minimum FTE: 0.8
Minimum salary scale: €2,960 (scale 10)
Maximum salary scale: €4,670 (scale 10)
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