Are you an MSc graduate interested in the sustainability governance of the North Sea? Are you excited about exploring how advanced technologies, like remote sensing and digital twins, can shape the behaviour of offshore industries?

The Environmental Policy group at Wageningen University is looking for a PhD researcher to work in the NWO funded OR ELSE (Operational Recommendations for Ecosystem-based Large-scale Sand Extraction) programme. OR ELSE focuses on the challenge of climate-induced increase of sand extraction volumes for coastal defence and the effects on ecology and other uses (e.g. fisheries) in the Dutch North Sea.

In the governance of marine practices, government and economic actors have different understandings of space and time. Ocean dynamics, as well as the risks and uncertainty of operating at sea, have different impacts on marine activities like sand extraction and fisheries. Moreover, the various understandings of what sustainability in these industries is shaped by regulatory frameworks, political culture and power dynamics. How these industries move across the sea and exploit fish and sand resources is affected by the rapidly increasingly availability of information through advanced technologies like remote sensing and digital twins of North Sea ecosystems.

This PhD project will research how the activities of marine industries are shaped by new informational and governance processes in the Dutch North Sea. The results of this project contribute to new approaches to dynamic (real time and digital) ocean governance that respond to the mobile nature of marine activities and their spatial and ecological impacts.       

OR ELSE is an interdisciplinary programme consisting of two post-doc projects and six PhD projects. Consortium partners are from different parts of Wageningen University and Research, from Technical University of Twente and Delft, universities of applied sciences (BUAS, Van Hall Larenstein). A variety of stakeholders (government, sand extraction industries, fisheries, NGOs) are also partners in the research consortium. The PhD Candidate in this advertised project will be positioned at the Environmental Policy group of Wageningen University. The PhD project is supervised by Prof. Simon Bush, Dr Hilde Toonen and Dr Judith van Leeuwen.  

We ask

  • A MSc degree in sociology, anthropology, human geography or related study.
  • Affinity with marine governance, fisheries, marine industries, and/or ocean technologies is an advantage.
  • Strong scientific writing skills.
  • Strong qualitative research skills.
  • A willingness and motivation to travel and to carry out international case studies.
  • Motivation to collaborate in the interdisciplinary research team of ORELSE, with good communication skills.
  • Fluency in English.
  • Fluency or professional proficiency in Dutch is an advantage.

We offer

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our  Collective Labour Agreement include:

  • study leave and partially paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional compensation / holiday hours by working more, up to 40 hours per week;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.

In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will receive a fully funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team. The gross salary for the first year is € 2.541,- per month rising to € 3.247,- in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 38 hours. We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended for another 30 months after positive evaluation.

There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere. You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “ Best University ” in the Netherlands for the 17th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad
Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees. Applicants from abroad moving to the Netherlands may qualify for a special tax relief, known as the 30% ruling. Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.

Feeling welcom
Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research’s International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about helping your partner to find a job, housing, schooling, and other issues.

Equal opportunities
Wageningen University & Research (WUR) employs a large number of people with very different backgrounds and qualities, who inspire and motivate each other. We want every talent to feel at home in our organisation and be offered the same career opportunities. We therefore especially welcome applications from people who are underrepresented at WUR. For more information please go to our inclusivity page. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment.

More information

For more information about this position, please contact Dr. Hilde Toonen, email: For more information about the procedure, please contact Jouke van Oostenbrugge, Corporate recruiter email, or Tanja Schultz, Assistent recruiter email

Do you want to apply?
You can apply directly by uploading your CV and motivation letter, using the apply button on the vacancy page on our website which will allow us to process your personal information with your approval.
This vacancy will be listed up to and including September 22, 2022. We plan to schedule the first job interviews in the week of 3 October. If invited, you’ll be contacted on the 27th or 28th of September. Second round of interviews is in the week of 10 October. The preferred starting date for this position is November 1, 2022.

Wageningen University & Research
The mission of Wageningen University & Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment.

With its roughly 30 branches, 7,200 employees (6,400 fte) and 13,200 students and over 150.000 participants to WUR’s Life Long Learning, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. The unique Wageningen approach lies in its integrated approach to issues and the collaboration between different disciplines.

Apply now

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