Gepubliceerd op 04-10-2022

PhD position “SOY STORIES: Dutch histories and futures of soy & (un)sustainability”

Job description

Different regions across the globe face grave sustainability challenges that may be at once highly diverse and highly interconnected. Since the 1970s, accelerating soy production in Brazil has been associated with large-scale deforestation, land-grabbing, child labor and more. Meanwhile soy-based intensive animal farming in the Netherlands came with a 4-decades-long national nitrogen crisis (currently a key public controversy), public health hazards, greenhouse gas emissions and animal welfare problems. Yet regional sustainability histories and futures are predominantly studied in geographical isolation. The research project SOY STORIES investigates how we can study these region’s sustainability histories as connected, and draws implications for thinking about (likewise connected) inclusive sustainability futures.

Your duties

  • You will investigate Dutch soy-related sustainability histories and their relations to Brazilian sustainability histories; how these inform current thinking about solutions that are for relevant sustainability challenges in the Netherlands; and how historical knowledge can become actionable for the development of more inclusive sustainable future imaginaries.
  • You will do so in collaboration with a PhD candidate based at History Lab of TU Eindhoven, who will study Brazilian soy-related sustainability histories and their relations to Dutch sustainability histories, and you will collaborate with the Soy Observatory and the Universidade Federal da Fronteira Sul (UFFS) in Brazil. Furthermore, you work with a wide range of societal partners to enrich historiography and to imagine more inclusive sustainable futures. The project entails travels to Brazil.
  • Next to your research, resulting in a PhD thesis, you will be teaching in courses taught by the Athena Institute (~20% of your time). Research and teaching will be entwined with innovative Community Service Learning initiatives, which are central to the VU in general and the Athena Institute in particular. Your work will be supported with committed supervision and additional research training.


We are looking for an enthusiastic, curious and creative candidate with:

  • A masters’ degree in history or another relevant field, e.g. science and technology studies (STS), geography, anthropology, area studies, etc.
  • Practical experience with qualitative (historical) research methods, such as (historical) ethnography, (historical) document analysis, (life history) interviewing
  • Preferably: experience with transdisciplinary research approaches
  • The ability to work independently and in a team
  • 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
  • An strong command of the Dutch and English language; knowledge of Portuguese (or willingness to learn) is an advantage
  • Willingness to spend one day per week (Thursday) at TU Eindhoven

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 1 year.

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,541 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,247 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 1 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for a period of one year with a possible extension conditional upon assessment of adequate functioning. The maximum duration of the appointment is 4 years.

  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment,
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus,
  • solid pension scheme (ABP),
  • possibility to save holiday hours, for sabbatical leave,
  • child daycare facilities available on campus


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 30,000 students. We employ over 5,500 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science
The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to more than 11,000 students.

Athena Institute, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences
The position is offered within the Athena Institute, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences. The institute’s mission is to study and design interfaces between science and society to contribute both to a deeper understanding of innovation processes as well as a responsible implementation of research and innovation in society. Athena’s research program amongst other focuses on analysing complex global health challenges, designing interventions and conducting participatory monitoring and evaluation research. The section presently has a position vacant for a Postdoc/Lecturer.
For more information about the Athena Institute visit our website.

Additional information

Closing deadline: 28-10-2022, or when a suitable candidate has been found. A first round of interviews will take place between the 31st of October and the 3rd of November.

The Brazilian counterpart to this position hosted by the TU Eindhoven History Lab is advertised on the TUE vacancy website.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Dr. Evelien de Hoop
Position: Assistant Professor
E-mail: e.de.hoop@vu.nl


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.