University Professor of Humanities and Artificial Intelligence

Universiteit van Amsterdam – Faculty of Humanities

The University of Amsterdam (UvA) is looking for an internationally recognized scholar who will initiate and carry out research and education in Humanities and artificial intelligence (AI), as part of its university wide initiative to strengthen expertise in the area of AI. The University Professor in Humanities and AI will perform these tasks in close collaboration with colleagues in the Faculty of Humanities and with the other University Professors in AI.

With over 5,000 employees, 30,000 students and a budget of more than 600 million euros, the University of Amsterdam (UvA) is an intellectual hub within the Netherlands. Teaching and research at the UvA are conducted within seven faculties: Humanities, Social and Behavioural Sciences, Economics and Business, Law, Science, Medicine and Dentistry. Housed on four city campuses in or near the heart of Amsterdam, where disciplines come together and interact, the faculties have close links with thousands of researchers and hundreds of institutions at home and abroad.

The UvA’s students and employees are independent thinkers, competent rebels who dare to question dogmas and aren’t satisfied with easy answers and standard solutions. To work at the UvA is to work in an independent, creative, innovative and international climate characterised by an open atmosphere and a genuine engagement with the city of Amsterdam and society.

The Faculty of Humanities not only houses an assortment of established and respected disciplines including Foreign Languages, Dutch Studies, History, Art Studies, Archaeology, Religious Studies and Philosophy, but also such new and pioneering research fields as New Media, Digital Humanities, Conservation and Restoration.

Job description
Current AI research in the field of humanities encompasses attempts at understanding human speech and interpreting complex data, including images and videos. On the one hand, researchers focus on the opportunities of AI technology to increase both the scope and complexity of researching human culture based on historical and present-day sources, radically innovating the methods of what has become known as Digital Humanities research. On the other hand, researchers also note that AI technology is prone to replicate biases in the datasets it computes and that the machine’s processes of reasoning are inaccessible, both to users and even to its developers. Therefore, research in the humanities also focuses on the epistemological implications of AI, including the development of strategies for evaluating bias, detecting presupposed notions of meaning and developing recommendations for best practices and philosophical-methodological criteria. As such, this research contributes to the development of an ‘amplified intelligence’ that allows for an interdisciplinary exchange of knowledge and values across the humanities and technical disciplines, and that includes human evaluators in machine-supported meaning-making processes. We can place this development in line with current on-going investigations in both explainable AI and responsible AI.

Teaching and research
As one of the four University Professors to be appointed by the Executive Board, the chair will realise the following ambitions:

  • bring about innovation in AI research and teaching, and its use in society, with a focus on collaborative inter-faculty research into AI issues that explicitly involves University Professors;
  • modernise the curriculum, increase its relevance to academic and social innovation;
  • seek the involvement of external parties (businesses, civic organisations, all levels of government) in research, education and other types of valorisation;
  • proceeding from a position of excellence, bring about innovation within the university by inspiring students, researchers and lecturers;
  • engage the academic community and encourage debate within the university on (the impact of) AI;
  • generate more social visibility for the UvA in terms of its research, teaching and public-private cooperation.

The University Professor in Humanities and AI will perform these tasks in close collaboration with colleagues in the Faculty of Humanities. For research, this will be with one of the research schools of the Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research (AIHR) and/or the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC), an interfaculty research institute between the Faculties of Science and Humanities. There is also affinity with the UvA Research Priority Area Cultural Heritage & Identity.

Position within the University of Amsterdam
The University of Amsterdam has taken up a leading role in the technical developments of AI and, as a comprehensive university, has invested strongly in research into the applications and societal embedding of AI. The UvA operates in an environment that devotes considerable resources to AI-research; the business community, civic organisations and (local) government are also extremely active on this front. The Executive Board expects that the appointment of four new University Professors specialised in the field of AI (AI and Information Retrieval; Law and Technology with special emphasis on AI; AI and Medical Imaging; and Humanities and AI) will invigorate the various research projects, programmes and partnerships that currently exist throughout the UvA.

The University Professorship in Humanities and AI will be appointed by the Executive Board and liaised with the Faculty of Humanities. In principle, the professorship will become part of the Faculty of Humanities after five years. To enhance their university-wide impact, University Professors are given centrally located offices as well as one at their liaised Faculty. University Professors confer regularly as a group and meet with relevant stakeholders from within and outside the UvA and participate in the activities of the research institute with which they are liaised.

The ideal candidate will initiate new research on the intersection of Humanities and AI. The candidate connects to investigations going on in the research schools of the Faculty of Humanities such as digital humanities, media studies and philosophy including the fostering of reflection on the vast array of methodological and societal issues arising from computational practices. The candidate will also be capable of bridging AI-research in the Humanities and other academic disciplines.

Candidates for the position are expected to meet the following requirements:

  • a PhD in the Humanities or AI with a proven track record of incorporating AI or data science into Humanities research;
  • an excellent international reputation;
  • an excellent academic publication record;
  • an experienced and enthusiastic teacher on all levels of academic training (exemplified by the Dutch Basiskwalificatie Onderwijs BKO  (Basic Teaching Qualification); candidates without this qualification are expected to acquire it upon their appointment);
  • experience in developing new teaching programmes;
  • experience with collaborative projects;
  • a proven track record of acquiring external research funding;
  • experience in the supervision of PhD-tracks;
  • an extensive national and international network with other academic and cultural institutions;
  • the ability to contribute to knowledge exchange in public as well as academic settings;
  • the ability to establish productive connections with other academic disciplines within as well as outside the department;
  • proven excellent management and leadership qualities;
  • good command of English and Dutch (candidates are expected to attain this within two years of their appointment; for Dutch, the required level is the state examination for Dutch as a Second Language, programme II (NT2-II)).

Further information
For further details about this position, interested parties should contact the secretary of the selection committee:

  • dr. N. Brunsveld MBA, Senior Policy Advisory Research & Innovation
    T: +31 (0)20 525 8768


  • E. Jaspers, Head of HR Executive Staff
    T:+31 (0)20 525 3518

Both will be available until 20 July and from 20 August onwards.

The University Professorship entails a permanent appointment that in principle converts to a chair at the Faculty of Humanities after five years. Salary and benefits will be in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities and with the university regulations for academic personnel, and, depending on experience, range from a minimum €5,582 to €8,127 gross per month (salary scale H2, €77,902 to €113,420 per annum, including 8% holiday pay and an 8,3% end of year payment) on a full-time basis (38 hours per week). In exceptional cases, different terms of employment may be offered.

Job application
The UvA is an equal opportunity employer. We celebrate diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees. We value a spirit of enquiry and endurance, provide the space to keep asking questions and cherish a diverse atmosphere of curiosity and creativity.

Candidates are invited to submit their application no later than Sunday 9 September 2018, 23.59h CET. Please combine in one pdf:

  • an application letter in Dutch or English;
  • a curriculum vitae;
  • a list of publications.

The application should be addressed to Prof. Karen Maex, Rector Magnificus of the UvA using the link below.

Applications will be received by a selection committee headed by Prof. Karen Maex. The application process will be confidential. A first round of interviews is scheduled on Monday 24 and Thursday 27 September 2018 in Amsterdam. Candidates will be notified by Monday 17 September if and when they are invited for an interview. Following a procedure which may involve a formal assessment and a public trial lecture, the committee will make its final recommendation to the Executive Board of the UvA.

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