Gepubliceerd op 18-10-2022

PhD on Netherlands’ Global Entangled History of Edible Oils

Job description

Are you fascinated by sustainability issues created by Dutch import of natural resources and how these came about? You could be our PhD-candidate who analyses the long-term sustainability and wellbeing effects of Dutch import and consumption of plant oils and fats for the food and feed industries and inspire debates about the ongoing agriculture and food transitions. Then apply for this PhD position at the TU/e History Lab, co-supervised by Wageningen University and Research.

How can we explain the developments of the Netherlands’ immense effects in global sustainability trade-offs? The huge Dutch imports of raw materials and goods have been causing profound impacts in economic, social, and ecological developments elsewhere on the planet. These trade-offs have historical origins. In this PhD project you will study how from the nineteenth century onwards, scientific knowledge, colonial developments and industrial modernization contributed to the development of transnational production chains of edible oils, fats and protein. These connected the Netherlands food and agriculture with the rest of the world. This historical study analyses the developments and provides perspectives for contemporary initiatives in protein and food transitions.

Your research is embedded in a larger research program Sustainability Trade-offs in the Netherlands’ Entangled Modernisation (STONEM), 1900-2020 at Eindhoven University of Technology (TUe) and Utrecht University (UU), in collaboration with Wageningen University and Research, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) and other societal partners. The STONEM research program will investigate the historical developments of Dutch trade-flows with am mixed method approach combining quantitative data in trend analysis and sustainability monitors with qualitative historical and ethnographic analyses. More about the research approaches, concepts and context of the program can be found on the STONEM webpage.

At TUe you will work in the multidisciplinary environment of the Technology Innovation and Society (TIS) research group of Eindhoven University of Technology. Your project will connects to ongoing research on global sustainability histories at the Eindhoven History Lab, transitions studies and development studies at TIS; studies of the protein transition of the Knowledge, Technology and Innovation Group of Wageningen University. Furthermore your project connects to ongoing research on Deep Transitions in The Netherlands and research of Utrecht Center for Global Challenges at Utrecht University, that also host a PhD candidate at the Economic and Social history research group. Together with our societal partners your results become visible in (inter)national policy realms on international trade and sustainable developments.


  • A master’s degree (or an equivalent university degree) in Innovation Sciences, Social sciences, Environmental and Economic History, Sustainability Transition Studies, Science and Technology Studies, International relations, Anthropology, Area studies or related fields.
  • A strong interest in socio-technical transitions in agricultural and food, contemporary history and interpretive research on sustainability.
  • Practical experience with qualitative (historical) research methods, such as (historical) ethnography, (historical) document analysis, (life history) interviewing.
  • Preferably: experience with transdisciplinary research approaches.
  • Ability to work in an interdisciplinary team and interested in collaborating with societal partners.
  • Motivated to develop your teaching skills and coach students.
  • Very good organizational, communicative and connective skills; you will collaborate with a wide variety of academic and societal groups.
  • A strong track record and good research skills, writing skills and presentation skills.
  • A strong command English language (C1 level); Basic (reading) knowledge of Dutch language (or willingness to learn) is an advantage.

Conditions of employment

A meaningful job in a dynamic and ambitious university, in an interdisciplinary setting and within an international network. You will work on a beautiful, green campus within walking distance of the central train station. In addition, we offer you:

  • Full-time employment for four years, with an intermediate evaluation (go/no-go) after nine months. You will spend 10% of your employment on teaching tasks.
  • Salary and benefits (such as a pension scheme, paid pregnancy and maternity leave, partially paid parental leave) in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, scale P (min. € 2541 max. € 3247).
  • A year-end bonus of 8.3% and annual vacation pay of 8%.
  • High-quality training programs and other support to grow into a self-aware, autonomous scientific researcher. At TU/e we challenge you to take charge of your own learning process.
  • An excellent technical infrastructure, on-campus children’s day care and sports facilities.
  • An allowance for commuting, working from home and internet costs.
  • A Staff Immigration Team and a tax compensation scheme (the 30% facility) for international candidates.

Additional information

About us

Eindhoven University of Technology is an internationally top-ranking university in the Netherlands that combines scientific curiosity with a hands-on attitude. Our spirit of collaboration translates into an open culture and a top-five position in collaborating with societal partners and advanced industries. Fundamental knowledge enables us to design solutions for the highly complex problems of today and tomorrow.

The Technology, Innovation & Society group at the TU/e School of Innovation Sciences, which hosts the History Lab, researches and teaches about the role of innovation and technology in sustainability challenges and transitions from economic, STS, transition studies, and historical perspectives.

The TU/e History lab studies the role of technology in societal challenges and transitions in a long-term perspective and investigates how historical knowledge can be made transformative.


Do you recognize yourself in this profile and would you like to know more?
Please contact the hiring manager dr. ir Frank Veraart, assistant professor, f.c.a.veraart[at]tue.nl.

If you are interested in the counterpart to this position on ore and metals hosted by Utrecht University, please check STONEM website.

Websites: TU/e History LabTU/e Technology, Innovation & Society groupWUR Knowledge, Technology and Innovation GroupFoundation for History of Technology

Procedure: Visit our website for more information about the application process or the conditions of employment. You can also contact Kim Spinder – van Puijenbroek (HR Advisor), pz.ieis[at]tue.nl.

Are you inspired and would like to know more about working at TU/e? Please visit our career page.


We invite you to submit a complete application by using the apply button. The application should include a:

  • Cover letter in which you describe your motivation and qualifications for the position.
  • Curriculum vitae, including a list of your publications and the contact information of three references.

We look forward to receiving your application and will screen it as soon as possible. The vacancy will remain open until the position is filled.

Please keep in mind you can upload only 5 documents up to 2 MB each. If necessary please combine files.


Het KNHG is de grootste organisatie van professionele historici in Nederland. Het biedt een platform aan de ruim 1100 leden en aan de historische gemeenschap als geheel. Word lid van het KNHG.
Het Huygens Instituut beoogt de Nederlandse geschiedenis en cultuur inclusiever maken. Het ontsluit historische bronnen en literaire teksten en ontwikkelt innovatieve methoden, tools en duurzame digitale infrastructuur.