PhD candidate in Food System Transition


University of Bern, Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)


Friday, August 18, 2023

Start Date

Monday, January 1, 2024

The Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) is an interdisciplinary research centre of the University of Bern. Its overarching goal is to produce and share knowledge for sustainable development in cooperation with partners in the global North and South.

As a successful candidate, you will be part of a large research project entitled “From Farm to Fork and beyond: A Systemic Approach for Implementing True Cost Accounting for Food in Switzerland (TRUE-COST-OF-FOOD)”, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation.
Food and agriculture systems have significant environmental, social, and health impacts that are not reflected in the cost of food. True cost accounting for food (TCAF) - measuring social, environmental, and health impacts in monetary terms - has been put forward at the national and international levels as a potentially powerful tool for transforming food systems. TRUE-COST-OF-FOOD first aims at providing a comprehensive understanding and a unified methodology of TCAF in Switzerland, based on existing research in other contexts. It does so by 1) integrating the public health dimension and developing health impact metrics; 2) proposing implementation pathways and analyzing their acceptability by engaging with Swiss stakeholders across the value chain; 3) identifying interdependencies and levers for change at different levels, including policy-making, the private sector, and consumers; 4) building a proof of concept to shed light on the multifunctionality of food and ease the shift towards healthier and more sustainable food for all. TRUE-COST-OF-FOOD takes an interdisciplinary, holistic, and systemic approach to food systems. Several disciplines (agriculture, public health, environmental engineering, economics, business and innovation, behavioral sciences, and international relations) will work together to achieve the above-mentioned goals.

Under the guidance of senior project members based at the University of Bern, the Bern University of Applied Sciences BFH (School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences BFH-HAFL), and the University of Lausanne, you will conduct your main research in Switzerland. You will be affiliated with the research group of Dr. Theresa Tribaldos (CDE, University of Bern) and work closely with partners at the other universities involved in TRUE-COST-OF-FOOD.


  • Conduct a PhD in Geography
  • Co-elaborate a system-based theory of change to transition to a more sustainable, fair and resilient Swiss food system, co-create different transition pathways and scenarios for acceptable compensation mechanisms, and analyse the policy framework underlying the Swiss food system
  • The PhD position will focus on the Swiss actor and policy landscape
  • Collaborate closely with colleagues and partners of the TRUE-COST-OF-FOOD project and beyond; participate in project publications, research workshops and other events; build a network with practitioners; and contribute to the project's overall communication strategy
  • Present your research at scientific conferences
  • Publish results in international peer-reviewed journals