The Department of Political Science and the Institute for European Studies of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) are hiring four PhD researchers for several projects on democratic governance.
• Holder of a Master degree in Political Science or related field in Social Sciences and Humanities. Last year students are encouraged to apply, at the condition that they obtain their MA-degree before the start of the scholarship; i.e. October 1st, 2018.
• A good command of English, both in writing and speaking.
• Specific skills are required for each of the research themes (see below) Offer The PhD grants are for four years. You will become an actively contributing member of the VUB’s Strategic Research programme on ‘Evaluating Democratic Governance in Europe’ and of the interuniversity Excellence of Science Project on ‘Representation and Democratic Resentment’.
Starting date is October 1st, 2018.
Deadline for applications is June 30, 2018.
Questions regarding the PhD scholarships can be addressed to professor Kris Deschouwer (Kris.Deschouwer@vub.be).
Applications should include:
• a letter of motivation clearly indicating for which of the theme(s) you are applying
• a full CV (including degrees obtained for each study year, the title of your MA-thesis, and, when applicable, a list of publications, relevant courses taken, and conference presentations)
• a project outline, including a central research question and research design (maximum two pages); if you apply for several of the themes, a project outline for each of them is needed
Theme 1 - Democratic myopia and the environment/climate/sustainable development We invite projects that investigate the causes and consequences of “democratic myopia” in Europe as regards environmental and/or climate policy. Democratic myopia here refers to the institutionally in-built tensions between short-term election cycles of democratic governance systems (generally 4-5 years) and the long-term nature of important environmental challenges such as climate change and the management of natural lands/resources. How can democracy be shaped so that long-term challenges such as environmental degradation, environmental restoration/conservation, and climate change can be effectively addressed? We are interested in project proposals that help us understand and manage the dynamics of the tensions inherent in democratic system. Projects should therefore examine the political, institutional and other conditions that foster or relieve this tension (e.g. participatory mechanisms, innovative management/democratic practices, etc.) or may actually compound it. Projects may investigate single case studies or take a comparative perspective (e.g. across different countries) and may explore democratic myopia at different levels of governance, including the supranational EU level (e.g. links to the EU reform debate). A strong European angle is a prerequisite, as is an empirical focus on environmental/climate policy. Specific requirements for PhD candidates: none
Theme 2 - Brussels’ youth: enacting citizenship Projects under this theme seek to produce new insights into how young people in the Brussels Capital Region (Belgium) understand and enact citizenship. To this end, research is conducted on the relationship between political discourse on citizenship, the institutions that engage with such discourse (e.g., politics, law, police, education and media), and youngsters’ political performances, understood broadly as actions, events or forms of behaviour that demonstrate youngsters’ self-conscious relationship to what it means to be a citizen. Performances, in this sense, can range from participating in civic or political organisations, blogging, making consumer choices, to becoming a foreign fighter, endorsing the use of violence or engaging in violent manifestations The Brussels Capital Region makes for an interesting case: reflecting its multi-linguistic, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic character, Brussels features prominently in political discourse on citizenship, multiculturalism, violence and radicalization. We are particularly interested in the relationship between youngsters’ understandings of citizenship, their feelings of resentment, and their use or endorsement of violence. The project preferably draws on qualitative methodologies (interviews, focus groups, participant observation, field research, visual methodologies) but can rely on existing survey sources (i.e. the 2018 DEBEST school survey that taps into feelings of resentment). Specific requirements for PhD candidates: In order to conduct research in the Brussels region, the successful candidate masters at least Dutch or French (ideally both) and is willing to improve one’s command of the other language. Previous experience with qualitative methodologies is an asset.
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