PhD Social and Urban Resilience | Local public infrastructure and agency in times of disasters

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Job description

The School of Social and Behavioural Sciences of the Erasmus University Rotterdam (ESSB-EUR) seeks to fill a PhD position for the research project Local public infrastructure and agency in times of disastersThe research project is part of the frontrunner program “Towards social and urban resilience for pandemics and disasters (SURE) of the Pandemic & Disaster Preparedness Center (PDPC).

The research project investigates: (1) the conditions under which citizens’ initiatives and forms of community participation arise and continue to exist in times in the event of disasters and pandemic, and the roles a local public infrastructure can play to support them; (2) The functions and governance that a local public infrastructure must meet in order to respond adequately to problems that arise in disadvantaged neighbourhoods in the event of disasters and pandemics (e.g. reliable information, healthcare, income, food supply). Connecting both aspects, group-based forms of (self) resilience and institutional resilience, gives insight in how local public institutions can stimulate, but also obstruct, the capacities of disadvantaged populations to resist and recover from external threatening conditions, such as covid 19, urban heat or energy poverty. 

The candidate will perform theoretically-informed qualitative analyses, contribute to  a Living Lab in Rotterdam South and connect them to other living labs, among possible others the living lab The Hague South-West. The aim is to develop, try out and test innovative urban solutions in a real-life context; present the results at conferences, and write a dissertation based on a set of research articles, publishable in international refereed journals. The candidate will be supervised by Prof. Godfried Engbersen (Erasmus Universiteit) and Prof. Jet Bussemaker (Universiteit Leiden/LUMC, campus The Hague). The PhD will work together with a postdoctoral researcher who will have a leading role in setting up the Living Lab.

About the Pandemic & Disaster Preparedness Center

Erasmus MC, TU Delft and Erasmus University Rotterdam have joined forces in the Pandemic and Disaster Preparedness Center (PDPC). PDPC aims to prepare society for future pandemics and disasters. We will reduce vulnerabilities and risks and build resilience through effective disaster prevention, preparedness and recovery measures. Convergence of the technical, medical and social sciences is essential for developing the next generation of approaches to disasters and pandemics. In the foreseeable future, our society can expect many more and unforeseen virus outbreaks and extreme events because of climate change. But how do we protect society from the next pandemic or disaster? Which of the lessons learnt could develop prevention and intervention measures, and how could research contribute to preparedness?


The PhD candidate should have

  • A master degree in Sociology, Public Administration, Political Science, Human Geography, Health Sciences, Public Health or a related discipline. Candidates currently finalizing their Master are also invited to apply, with the condition that the diploma must be completed by the time the project starts.
  • a qualitative empirical research focus and knowledge of, or the willingness to learn, specific skills, including (but not limited to) research in urban real-life contexts (‘living labs’) and forms of action research.
  • proven proficiency in qualitative statistical software.
  • excellent Dutch and English language proficiency.
  • a scientific mindset, inquisitive personality, enthusiasm for working in an interdisciplinary team, and the capacity to work independently.
  • Communication skills for interacting with local residents and urban stakeholders in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Conditions of employment

An internationally oriented and varied job in an enthusiastic team, with good working conditions in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO NU).

The start date of this position is ASAP and you will be based at ESSB/DPAS. The position is for 1,0  FTE. The salary starts from a minimum of € 2541,- to a maximum of €3247,-gross per month on a fulltime basis, in accordance with scale PR of the CAO-NU. Upon good performance position if offered for 1 year with the possibility to extend the position with another 3 years (4 years in total)

In addition, we offer an 8% holiday allowance, an end-of-year payment of 8.3%, and a very generous paid leave scheme. Furthermore, EUR is affiliated with ABP for the pension provision, and we offer partially paid parental leave, fully paid extended birth leave for partners, a personal career budget, work-life balance coaches, discounted collective health insurance, and more. As an employee, you can also use EUR facilities such as the University library and receive a discount on subscriptions for the Erasmus sports center.

Erasmus University Rotterdam offers a Dual Career Programme (DCP) to assist the life partners of new academic staff (on payroll) in finding employment in The Netherlands. The programme is offered in close cooperation with the nearby universities of Delft and Leiden.

Erasmus University Rotterdam aspires to be an equitable and inclusive community. We nurture an open culture, where everyone is supported to fulfill their full potential. We see inclusivity of talent as the basis of our successes, and the diversity of perspectives and people as a highly valued outcome. EUR provides equal opportunities to all employees and applicants regardless of gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, age, neurodiversity, functional impairment, citizenship, or any other aspect which makes them unique. We look forward to welcoming you to our community.

Additional information

You can find additional information on the employer (EUR) and the departments (Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences and the Department of Public Administration and Sociology) in the vacancy at the Academic Transfer website, or at

Information about the research project, including a more detailed description of the content and context of the research, can be obtained from Professor Godfried Engbersen (email:, or phone: +31 6 51257259.

Questions about the application procedure and other general questions should be addressed to our secretariat by

Application procedure

Please submit in PDF your application, consisting of:

  • Motivation letter
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Proof of your Master degree, including grade transcripts. If you have not completed your degree at the time of application, please provide a statement from your supervisor confirming the expected date of completion.
  • An academic writing sample (e.g., journal article, Master thesis).
  • Names and contact details of two referees

Apply before 5-9-2022 via AcademicTransfer citing PhD PDPC.

The selection procedure consists of two interviews. Interviews are expected to be held in September.

Let’s go!

This application process is arranged via the Academic Transfer website. Make sure to apply before Sept 5.

Apply now