The Department of Sustainable Use of Natural Resources (430c) at the University of Hohenheim is looking to fill a PhD position (m/f/x) starting in September 2022 for the duration of 3 years to contribute to the ‘Bright spots in agricultural systems’ project funded through the Robert Bosch foundation.

The project will use a solution-oriented research approach to identify and learn from existing best practices in agricultural systems – so called bright spots – to help guide the development of sustainable agriculture. Using a mix of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary, qualitative and quantitative methods, applied in an innovative nested cross-scale study design will allow the project to assess sustainability in a holistic manner across scales and contexts.

The aim is to identify existing levers for the sustainable transformation of farming systems using top-down characterization and bottom-up scaling of drivers, while incorporating potentially differing sustainability definitions at multiple scales, in two study regions in India and Mexico.This PhD position will focus on the Mexican case study – for the PhD position to work on the Indian case study see the accompanying advertisement. Both PhD students will collaborate closely and use similar approaches but apply them to different contexts. In addition, the PhD student will work closely with other team members, including local project coordinators in Mexico.

The PhD project will involve two main components: 1) mapping of quantitative sustainability indicators to identify bright spots at larger spatial scales using spatial analysis methods, and 2) carrying out qualitative in-depth fieldwork to identify enablers of these bright spots.

Your tasks:

  • Independently carry out interdisciplinary research on sustainable agriculture in Mexico that will result in a cumulative PhD thesis.      
  • Develop a stakeholder network in the Mexican case study regions (most likely to include Oaxaca and Baja California) and carry out research in close consultation with stakeholders.       
  • Collect high-resolution spatial data on agricultural indicators for Mexico.      
  • Map and analyze agricultural sustainability indicators using advanced spatial analysis, regression and other machine learning approaches to identify bright spots.       
  • Carry out qualitative in-depth fieldwork in several bright spot case study regions through expert interviews, focus groups and historical document analysis. 

We expect:

  • MSc in geography, environmental sciences, agricultural sciences or related fields
  • Strong interest in sustainability issues, particularly as they relate to agriculture
  • Experience carrying out interdisciplinary research
  • Strong analytical skills 
  • Commitment, team-spirit, diligence and autonomy 
  • Good communication skills in English
  • Willingness to travel internationally and carry out field work in Mexico
  • Existing knowledge of quantitative (e.g. statistics, spatial analysis) and/or qualitative (e.g. content analysis, focus groups) interdisciplinary scientific methods, and/or willingness to learn new methods

The following skills would constitute strong assets for this position:

  • Knowledge of Spanish
  • Familiarity with the Mexican agricultural context 
  • Experience in transdisciplinary research and working with stakeholders and/or outreach skills  

We offer:

  • Opportunity to work in an international inter- and transdisciplinary research project including collaboration with international research partners and stakeholders
  • Opportunity to work in an exciting solutions-oriented research project that aims to contribute new societally relevant knowledge to support sustainability transformations
  • Opportunity for extensive fieldwork in Mexico
  • Opportunity to learn new methodological approaches 
  • Flexible working schedule in consultation with the team
  • A pleasant, stimulating and collaborative working atmosphere 
  • Remuneration and social benefits based on tariffs for German civil service employees (TV-L EG13, 65%, which corresponds to 2722€ gross per month or higher, depending on experience and qualification)

The Department of Sustainable Use of Natural Resources is a newly established research group situated at the Institute of Social Sciences in Agriculture at the University of Hohenheim, funded through a Robert Bosch Juniorprofessorship and led by Dr. Verena Seufert

For international candidates, the University of Hohenheim offers support with the logistics of relocating to Germany. Disabled persons will be given preference if equally qualified. The University of Hohenheim aims to increase the number of female scientists, thus applications from women are particularly welcome.  

Do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have about the position (Email: We look forward to receiving your application!

The review of applications will start on July 15, 2022

Application deadline : 15.07.2022

Please attach the following documents to your application: Please address the application to Jun.-Prof. Dr. Verena Seufert and enclose the following documents with your application (as a single pdf): short letter of motivation, CV, current transcripts and names and contacts of three references. The application is to be submitted via the University of Hohenheim website.

The University of Hohenheim accepts applications via a secure internet site. To the application

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