Applications for the Postdoc Academy 2022-2024

Per intake, 20 researchers will be selected. To be eligible for the Postdoc Academy for Transformational Leadership you should be an early career researcher with sustainability focus and

  • be affiliated with a European research institution that is your major place of work and have your main residence in Europe,
  • have funds for your research for the majority of the programme cycle (at least until September 2023),
  • have obtained your doctorate no more than four years prior to applying (family and caring times excluded),
  • have a research topic relevant to this year's focus topic "Racing to climate justice? Debating the multiple temporalities of just transformations",
  • have a strong interest and experience in doing inter- and transdisciplinary sustainability research, and
  • conduct research that asks for the complementarity of natural sciences, social sciences and the humanities,
  • be an excellent researcher with a vision (societal impact),
  • be on the way to professorship or other academic leadership positions,
  • be an academic intrapreneur, who acts responsibly and initiates positive changes and innovation within his/ her institution,
  • be a shaper, a shaker and a mover,
  • have excellent English language skills (equivalent to CEFR Level C2) and
  • be committed to attending all seminars and relevant networking activities.

Applicants should be early career researchers at an academic institution in one of the following European countries: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Vatican.

The Postdoc Academy is funded by the Robert Bosch Stiftung. There are no course fees. Travel and accommodation costs must be borne by the participants. Up to four scholarships for travel and accommodation costs can be offered.

15th December 2021 till 15th February 2022

Online application (motivation, CV, letter of support, etc.)

15th June 2022

Virtual assessment workshop (pitch, interview, group work)

Until 30th June 2022

Notification of selection results to applicants

27th to 29th September 2022

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (IRI THESys)/ Germany

7th to 9th February 2023

Leuphana Universität Lüneburg/ Germany

10th to 12th October 2023

Stockholm Resilience Centre/ Sweden

12th to 14th March 2024

Dutch Research Institute for Transitions (DRIFT), Rotterdam/ The Netherlands

“What do we want – climate justice! When do we want it – now!” Fridays for Future are back on the streets and their chanting can be heard ringing through the capitals of the world. Their message is one of utmost urgency. If we do not act now, the habitability of our planet and human well-being are at stake. Who would object? Intergovernmental reports are telling us in no uncertain terms that the 1.5C target is slipping away from us and that the suffering of people and of ecosystems has long begun. Our common future has become anything but certain. More and more actors in policymaking, administration, and civil society recognise this. Yet they find themselves caught between utopian ideas, resistance to change and a sense of ‘muddling through’ in diverse fields of action.

Yet how do we deal with this urgency in academia? In fact, let us forget the ‘we’ and ‘us’. How are you as a postdoc researcher responding to this urgency? Do you race through your projects to contribute as much as quickly as possible to the state-of-the-art? Have you become an activist, because, well, what else can you do? Is this pace already beginning to take its toll on you, but you feel responsible for keeping the momentum? Sounds familiar.

What about moments of reflection though? What about critical thinking and pondering the framing of wicked planetary problems? What about bringing stakeholders and heterogeneous publics on board in transdisciplinary research? What about listening to all sides and weighing concerns carefully? Can you afford to engage difficult literatures or new methods given the urgency of global environmental change? Can you afford not to? Can you look after the people in your project properly?

Squaring the urgency of climate mitigation and adaptation with the need for just and inclusive social-ecological transformations is a major challenge. Maintaining more-than-human livability on this planet requires swift action. Yet it also requires organised scepticism; it requires the analysis and deliberation of moral concerns; it requires public science and inclusive methodologies. Solution-orientation and bringing knowledge to action seems an ethical requirement given current suffering particularly in the socially and ecologically more vulnerable regions of the world. Yet does science seek solutions to the right problems? Does evidence-based democratic deliberation give enough room for concerns about social inequality? Does it admit all voices as evidence and is there enough time to worry about ethics if physics says it’s nearly too late? Is there too much attention on future horizons at the expense of today’s suffering?

These are certainly difficult questions. If you are currently leading a research group or will be leading a project team in the future, you may find yourself needing answers to these or yet more of such questions. You need to set priorities. Manage your group. Maintain networks and visibility while having time to really think things through. Sounds difficult. The Postdoc Academy for Transformational Leadership provides a forum of like-minded scholars to discuss these questions and help you find answers for yourself.

This call thus addresses postdoctoral scholars, who conduct research on sustainability  issues in the broadest sense and who are addressing aspects of  transformative change, not only with regard to the need for translating knowledge into action at reasonable pace. This could include participatory research on restoration, local change processes, or scenarios, examining systemic drivers of social inequalities and exclusion, modelling studies mapping out trap-conditions as well as sustainable paths forward or tipping points, or research on policy processes or incentives for creating momentum and/or speeding up changing human behavior and implementation. In fact, we cannot define all the topics that might be relevant. It is you - the generation of future leaders - who decide what needs to be brought to the table to address the multiple temporalities of just transformations.

The Postdoc Academy explores through four seminars in Berlin, Lüneburg, Stockholm and Rotterdam what kind of science is needed to understand and move towards transformative change for sustainability and what this kind of science will require from the people who will shape it. How does transdisciplinary research on transformative change fit within different research institutions? How do different disciplinary lenses approach the challenges of cross-scale interdependencies of change processes, including ethics? What is this type of transdisciplinary research doing for or to my academic career?  Do I have the right skills already to lead a group in this direction? Do I know people across Europe who can help me develop those skills and build networks for future projects?