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Postdoctoral Fellow in Human Geography

University of Oslo - Department of Sociology and Human Geography

Probing Uncertainty in Energy Transitions

Job description

Applicants are invited to apply for a Postdoctoral Fellow position (SKO 1352) at the Department of Sociology and Human Geography. The position is for a period of three years; a four-year contract including 25 % teaching duties may also be negotiated. The position involves developing conceptual and methodological tools for understanding how uncertainty shapes trajectories of change in renewable energy projects. The work brings together thinking on uncertainty and energy justice from across disciplines, with a primary focus on methodological development.

The position is central within an interdisciplinary Thematic Research Group (TRG), UNRULY SUSTAINABILITY: Unruly Sustainability Challenges: addressing uncertainty in governing energy transitions, funded by UiO:Energy and the Environment. Theoretically, the UNRULY SUSTAINABILITY project examines ‘chaotic’ processes, those without stable probability patterns, to probe material and epistemic uncertainties, or what the project defines as ‘unruly’ processes. Dynamics that underpin energy justice concerns rarely exhibit stable probability patterns. Assuming they do can lead to failed outcomes—like dams bursting or further marginalising vulnerable people. The project aims to generate new methodologies for evaluating how uncertainty shapes energy justice concerns and outcomes of renewable energy projects.

UiO:Energy’s TRGs contribute to their goals of addressing challenges related to energy, climate and environment. The UNRULY SUSTAINABILITY TRG team is comprised of colleagues from University of Oslo representing three different faculties (Social Science, Mathematics, Humanities), along with international affiliate researchers, and an advisory board of international academic leaders.

More about the position

The work builds from theoretical advances in geography, STS and cognate disciplines on reframing ontologies of ‘environment’ and ‘society’. The project starts from these insights and seeks to advance methodological approaches that take these ontological advances seriously. The project aims to develop new ways of approaching problems of risk and uncertainty in dynamic contexts. Empirical examples from Norway, Hungary, Nepal and Zambia ground the work.

The postdoctoral fellow will be dedicated to methodological development, with a starting point in methods that share concerns with scale, temporality and change, and show excellent potential for thinking about risk and chaos. The postdoctoral fellow will be centrally involved in the methodological development aspects, including working with an acoustics analysis team and stochastic mathematics. Other potential methodologies, including story-telling and visual methods, will also be considered by the team.

At the Department of Sociology and Human Geography, the fellow will be part of the research group on Sustainable Transformations, which provides a stimulating scientific context for research on environment-society and sustainability challenges. They will also be part of the Risk and Stochastics group at the Department of Mathematics (Professor Giulia Di Nunno) and the Oslo School of Environmental Humanities at the Musicology Department (Professor Kyle Devine). The project includes a close collaboration with the Environmental Systems Analysis at Chalmers Institute of Technology (Dr. Helene Ahlborg), the Nordic Soundscapes Network (Dr. Rose Keller), and the K. Lisa Yang Center for Conservation Bioacoustics at Cornell University (Dr. Aaron Rice). The position includes opportunities for research exchanges at these institutions.

Contact Prof. Andrea Nightingale for a copy of the project proposal. The project activities will all be conducted in English.

Qualification requirements and personal skills

Required skills

  • Applicants must hold a degree equivalent to a Norwegian doctoral degree in either Geography, Science and Technology Studies (STS), (Socio)Environmental Systems Analysis, Environmental Studies, or cognate disciplines. The doctoral dissertation must have been submitted for evaluation by the closing application date. Appointment is dependent on the dissertation and public defense of the doctoral dissertation being approved. Please contact the project leader, Professor Nightingale, if you have questions about your background
  • Applicants must have the capacity for independent academic research, and relevant methodological experience, preferably documented through international scientific publications
  • Applicants must have outstanding written and oral proficiency in English.

Desired skills

Candidates should have expertise in one or more of the following. It is not expected that candidates will have expertise in all of these:

  • Advanced quantitative methods in social science
  • Research in uncertainty and risk
  • Bioacoustics or acoustic methods for social science
  • Experience with interdisciplinary conceptual and methodological frameworks.
  • Experience working with visual methods.

It is an advantage to have a strong background in one of the following:

  • Interdisciplinary qualitative or quantitative methods for environment-society studies
  • Sound studies/acoustic analysis
  • Studies related to risk and uncertainty
  • Experience in Nepal, Zambia, Hungary or Norway.

It is highly desirable for the candidate to have training in the social sciences or liberal arts as the position requires thinking across disciplines.

Residence in Norway is expected during the appointment, but the postdoctoral fellow may also spend time abroad for training and research.

We offer

  • Salary NOK 594 500 - 657 300 per annum depending on qualifications in position as Postdoctoral Research Fellow (position code 1352)
  • A professionally stimulating working environment
  • Attractive welfare benefits and a generous pension agreement, in addition to Oslo’s family-friendly environment with its rich opportunities for culture and outdoor activities

How to apply

The application should be written in English and must include:

  • Application letter (1-2 pages). Please describe your motivation for applying for this position and explain how your background, research and experience are relevant to the research project. Please outline the types of methodologies you are interested in working on within the framework of the project.
  • Project proposal. This should be 2-3 pages and address the following ‘working hypothesis’: ‘New relations emerging within energy transitions generate unpredictability and unruliness beyond existing risk assessments. Identifying and characterizing this space requires novel sociomaterial methods.’ The proposal should address how you would start to develop such methods and their relationship to your current experience.
  • 3-page CV summarizing education, positions, research experience, and other activities.
  • A complete list of publications
  • Copies of educational certificates (academic transcripts only; PhD certificate required before hiring)
  • Up to five pieces of academic work for consideration in the assessment process (a doctoral dissertation or a monograph will count as three publications).
  • List of 2 references (name, relation to candidate, e-mail and phone number)

The application with attachments must be delivered in our electronic recruiting system. Foreign applicants are advised to attach an explanation of their University's grading system. Please note that all documents should be in English (or a Scandinavian language in the case of transcripts; the application materials should be in English).

In assessing applications, particular emphasis will be placed upon the academic and personal capacity of the candidate to contribute to the project within the given timeframe, to interact within national and international networks, and to be part of a dynamic research group. Interviews with the best qualified candidates will be arranged.

The final hiring decision is the responsibility of the department’s board and will be based on an evaluation of the overall qualifications of the shortlisted candidates. Whether or not the successful candidate is offered a four-year contract with teaching duties will be based on the candidate’s interest in such, their profile and the department’s need for teaching personnel.

Formal regulations

Please see the guidelines and regulations for appointments to Postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Oslo.

No one can be appointed for more than one Postdoctoral Fellow period at the University of Oslo.

According to the Norwegian Freedom of Information Act (Offentleglova) information about the applicant may be included in the public applicant list, also in cases where the applicant has requested non-disclosure.

Inclusion and diversity are a strength. The University of Oslo has a personnel policy objective of achieving a balanced gender composition. Furthermore, we want employees with diverse professional expertise, life experience and perspectives.

If there are qualified applicants with disabilities, employment gaps or immigrant background, we will invite at least one applicant from each of these categories to an interview.

Contact information

About the University of Oslo 

The University of Oslo is Norway’s oldest and highest ranked educational and research institution, with 28 000 students and 7000 employees. With its broad range of academic disciplines and internationally recognised research communities, UiO is an important contributor to society.

The Department of Sociology and Human Geography is Norway's leading department for both Sociology and Human Geography. The Department offers four Bachelor's and three Master's programmes. Research, teaching and dissemination activities within both fields are of the highest level. The Department is renowned both for the breadth of topics and methodologies employed and for its highly qualified researchers. Gender balance among the academic staff is an important distinguishing feature. The Department has 35 permanent academic staff, nearly 40 doctoral and post doctoral research fellows and 14 administrative staff members. There are approximately 80 PhD. candidates and 1500 students enrolled in the Department

Location: Oslo - Norway
Salary: NOK594,500 to NOK657,300
£45,231.94 to £50,010.01 converted salary* per annum
Hours: Full Time
Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
Placed On: 27th March 2024
Closes: 30th April 2024
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* Salary has been converted at the prevailing rate on the date placed
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