Vacancy: Postdoctoral position in Environmental Justice

Discipline:      Environmental Social Sciences/Humanities

Duration:        18 months

Location:        Lille Catholic University, France

Start date:       1 May 2022 or as negotiated

Salary:            32 000€ per year (gross salary), including public and additional private health insurance, and annual leave entitlement

A postdoctoral researcher is sought for interdisciplinary research (social science and humanities) into environmental/climate justice in rural landscapes in Europe. This 18-months full-time position is for an experienced researcher to join the international project Just-Scapes led by the University of East Anglia (UK). The job will involve working with Professor Brendan Coolsaet at ESPOL, the European School of Political and Social Sciences at Lille Catholic University, France, and with partners in France, the UK and the Czech Republic. Responsibilities will include research design, policy analysis, interviews with local and national policy makers, liaison with academic and non-academic partners, academic writing, and research dissemination. Among other things, the researcher will conduct a critical analysis of environmental/climate related public policies and national debates with regard to rural landscapes, and confront them with the local perceptions and debates collected through the partners’ case studies as well as with insights from the environmental/climate justice literature.

Project details

The project is funded by the European JPI Climate initiative, under its SOLSTICE programme for Enabling Societal Transformation in the Face of Climate Change, and the national funding agencies ANR (France), UKRI (UK), and MSMT (Czech Republic). This project aims to advance our understanding of the concept and practice of “just transformation”. This is a justice-based approach to shaping transformational change that is increasingly advocated by academics, activists, and policymakers, but which has not yet been substantially researched and elaborated. In particular, we address the challenge of transforming rural landscapes in response to climate change. Rural land use is a major contributor to climate change as well as being vulnerable to its effects. There is increasing discussion of land-use change as a critical policy response in rural areas, including large-scale afforestation, expansion of protected areas and reduction of livestock. But such land-use changes can be resisted by rural populations whose livelihoods and identities are linked to the land, leading to what we observe to be a ‘justice barrier’ to transformative change. 

We research empirically how those who live and work in European rural landscapes perceive the justices and injustices arising from potential climate-influenced land-use changes. We explore these perceptions using interviews, creative writing workshops as well as online surveys, identifying multiple and competing ideas about justice as well as opportunities for shared visions underpinned by collective norms. We will then build on this justice analysis through transdisciplinary workshops at which participants work collaboratively to produce living justice manifestos for case study landscapes. The research will involve comparative analysis in three European landscapes, one each in the Czech Republic, France, and the United Kingdom.

Job description

The postdoctoral researcher will:

  • Document and conduct critical analysis of environmental/climate related public policies and national debates with regard to rural landscapes;
  • Conduct interviews with local and national policy-makers independently as well as part of a team;
  • Play a full role in overall project design, planning and management, including liaising with partners in the UK, France and the Czech Republic;
  • Contribute effectively to developing the project research design and methods;
  • Undertake visits and attend workshops with partners in France, the UK and the Czech Republic, as required;
  • Contribute to writing academic and other outputs, involving a lead role in some outputs and contributing role in others;
  • Work independently as well as with colleagues to disseminate findings, including through writing and presenting conference papers.

Person specifications

  • A PhD or equivalent in a relevant social science or humanities discipline;
  • Strong interest in and experience of interdisciplinary research on environmental issues; Interest in and knowledge of environmental justice scholarship;
  • Experience of qualitative and participatory research methods, including critical policy analysis and interviews;
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills in English. French and/or Czech language skills would be a decided plus;
  • Proven ability to write for peer-reviewed academic publication;
  • Ability to organise their own time and work, to meet deadlines, and manage competing priorities;
  • Flexible working and willingness to travel overland for conducting interviews and for meetings in Europe.

Application details

Applications should include a cover letter, a CV, two writing samples as well as the names and contact details of three potential referees that may speak to the candidate’s excellence in research. Applications must be submitted to espol.recrutements@univ-catholille.fr

Deadline for applications: 6 March 2022. Interviews with shortlisted candidates will be held in March.

For further information on the Just-Scapes project, please visit https://just-scapes.uea.ac.uk. For other questions, please contact espol.recrutements@univ-catholille.fr

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