PhD Position in Social Sciences

University of Basel


PhD Position in Social Sciences

100%, 1.8.2024

The Sustainability Research Group at the University of Basel is looking for one PhD candidate to investigate social acceptance of artificial and sustainable fuels.

Your position

The political support of conventional biofuels has illustrated that national legislation (e.g., in the USA or the EU) has global socio-economic as well as environmental implications. Aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, several political institutions have launched strategies to foster the use of sustainable fuels and platform chemicals (SFPCs), i.e. carbon-free fuels (e.g., through hydrogen or ammonia) or carbon-neutral fuels (e.g., fuels containing non-fossil carbon from biomass). Within the framework of the project, sustainable fuels (SF) are defined to be fuels that meet a set of environmental and social sustainability criteria. While most SFPCs are expected to be imported to Switzerland, implications on international markets, social impacts (e.g., food security), and indirect environmental effects (e.g., global land-use change) depend on the technology pathway and are unknown. The goal of the PhD position is to contribute to a better understanding of the societal perspective in relation to sustainable fuels. The works will be embedded in the Swiss Federal Office of Agriculture SWEET-funded project "". Specifically, the PhD will examine social acceptance of different technological pathways and possible related environmental and socio-economic impacts in Switzerland. In order to do so, there is a need for both qualitative and quantitative assessment of consumer attitudes and demand intention (acceptance) for sustainable fuels and platform chemicals (SFPC), to understand assessment pathways and uptake scenarios. Expected tasks include undertaking two online surveys (one including an experiment) to identify preferences with respect to different identified and legally feasible policy options, general acceptance, attitudes and other potential determinants of future acceptance. In combination with others, a policy report outlining best practices on SFPC promotion and implications for Switzerland will be prepared. Research activities will form the basis of multiple academic research papers for a PhD.

The appointment is scheduled to begin on August 1, 2024.

Your profile

Applicants must possess an academic qualification (MSc/MA) in the social sciences, and should have experience with relevant empirical methods (particularly quantitative research skills are expected and qualitative research skills are desired).
A proficient level in English and German, excellent communication skills and a willingness to collaborate are essential.

We offer you

The position is for an initial period of one year, renewable for another three years after positive evaluation. 
As the research project is a collaborative effort between 16 research teams across Switzerland and hosted at the very interdisciplinary Sustainability Research Group of the University of Basel, you will be able to work in a scientifically highly stimulating environment. You will join a supportive, collaborative and cooperative work environment with regular meetings and exchanges. We support participation in a broad and well-established international research network. Further, we offer modern research facilities and an excellent scientific environment at Basel University. Salary and social benefits are provided according to the University of Basel rules. You will be co-supervised by Dr Iljana Schubert, Dr Annika Sohre & Professor Janina Grabs (appointed head of the Sustainability Research Group).

Application / Contact
Please submit your complete application documents, including a one-page letter stating your motivation, experience and skills, a CV, a copy of your MSc/MA certificate, and a one-page research proposal and contact details of at least two academic references via our online recruiting platform. We accept online applications only.
For further information, please contact Adam Hearn, Review of applications will begin April, 2024, but the position will remain open until filled.

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