Evaluating platform design for climate governance advocacy

Recruiting university

Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels School of Governance, Brussels (Belgium)

Main supervisor

Prof. Trisha Meyer (Centre for Digitalisation, Democracy and Innovation), Prof. Sebastian Oberthür (Centre for Environment, Economy and Energy)

Other co-supervisors/mentors and organisations

Prof. Sgueo (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium) (co-supervisor); Prof. Mortati (Politecnico di Milano, Italy) (mentor); Dr. Francesco Mureddu (Lisbon Council, Belgium) (mentor); Prof. Karol Murlak (School of Form, SWPS, University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Poland) (co-supervisor).


48 months

Required profile

The candidate will hold a Master’s degree in social sciences, including but not limited to media studies, science and technology studies, law, political science, governance studies, or environmental science. The candidate is open-minded, curious, enthusiastic, and accurate; proactive, capable of working independently; has good organizational and communication skills and a mastery of the English language in spoken and written form.

Desired skills

We are keen to recruit a candidate with a strong interest in understanding how to best advance the transition to climate neutrality. Basic knowledge of climate governance (global and EU) is required. It is recommended that the candidate is familiar with digital methods to research platform governance and/or have an interest in (co)design.


The doctoral project seeks to: (1) develop, test and implement an analytical framework to evaluate how affordances (design features) of digital platforms shape, enable or constrain climate advocacy; (2) to investigate and evaluate innovative strategies of leveraging affordances of digital platforms to maximise climate advocacy’s impact, outreach and collaboration; (3) and to explore and recommend change in the processes of (co)design of digital platforms for climate advocacy.


The doctoral project will require mixed qualitative and quantitative methods, including but not limited to (climate) network analysis, (expert) interviews, web scraping and (big) data analysis, and (co)design workshops. This is a daunting but exciting list of methods – the university and the CoDesign4Transitions Doctoral Network will provide assistance to help the doctoral candidate obtain these versatile skills.


Department of Design, Polimi, Italy with mentor Prof. Marzia Mortati, to investigate use of design approaches in the project methodology (3 months)
Lisbon Council, Belgium (6 months) with mentor Dr. Francesco Mureddu to evaluate climate action and advocacy strategies.

What makes this doctoral research project exciting?

The doctoral candidate will conduct research at the intersection of the BSoG’s digital and climate foci and benefit from the expertise and networks of the Centre for Digitalisation, Democracy and Innovation (CD2I) and the Centre for Environment, Economy and Energy (3E Centre). Within CD2I, the researcher will join the team researching agency in algorithmic governance, focused on how agency is negotiated in and through algorithms. We view online technologies as actors and spaces whom we shape and through whom we are shaped. Agency is understood at individual and group level. We are interested in practices of empowerment, afforded through technical architectures, norms, governance or concerted regulation of tech platforms. Within 3E, the researcher will be part of a thriving focus on understanding the societal and political conditions of international and European climate and energy governance towards climate neutrality and resilience.

What’s special about the host department/university?

Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) is a competitive, high-quality, socially committed and internationally oriented university located in Brussels, Belgium. Within VUB, the interdisciplinary research of the Brussels School of Governance (BSoG) covers a wide range of fields including digitalisation, democracy & innovation; environment, economy & energy; migration, diversity and justice; security, diplomacy & strategy. The Brussels School of Governance is home to a couple of dozens of PhD or postdoctoral researchers from many different backgrounds and nationalities. This enriching working environment allows to contribute to policy debate and conduct fundamental as well as applied research.

Gross salary

We offer employment as a full-time doctoral researcher. The contract is a full-time research grant for one year, renewable on an annual basis for a maximum of four years. Extension of the contract is subject to the agreement of the doctoral committee and the Board of the Brussels School of Governance. The annual funding available to the Vrije Universiteit Brussel for this position DC10 is 48.000,00 €. Please note: this is not the gross annual salary for the candidate. This figure refers to the total amount of funding available to the university that will hire the doctoral candidate, taking into account the living and mobility allowance funding from the EU MSCA as well as national laws. Applicants should be aware that their annual gross salary may well be significantly less than this amount, once the university has covered costs they incur such as pension and national insurance, subject to national laws. The annual gross salary the candidate receives will also be subject to tax, employment and pension deductions, depending on national employment laws.

According to the indications of the MSCA-DN program, the above amount may be increased by 660€ per month for researchers with family obligations.

This doctoral position is funded by the EU MSCA Programme.