PhD on decolonizing mapping practices in sustainable development


Utrecht University


Thursday, August 25, 2022

Start Date

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Job description

Are you interested in the way we visualize our world and how this influences how we respond to sustainable development challenges? Are you curious about creative methodological and visualization innovations that can reveal patterns of injustice and orient diverse groups to take action? Are you interested in co-producing innovations that visualize the priorities of those who have often been historically marginalized in mapping processes?

At the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, we have a full-time four-year PhD position available to examine these questions. This position will offer opportunities and expertise from both the Urban Futures Studio and the Environmental Sciences section within the Copernicus Institute. Through this research, the PhD researcher will embark on research utilizing inclusive, decolonial research methods to co-produce unique mapping processes and visualizations to support future decision making. The researcher will then experiment with novel mapping and visualization approaches to bring actors together to first document through maps, existing realities and priorities to then discuss and map imagined futures to forge shared directions for just and sustainable actions.

The research will take place in Texel (an island in the Netherlands), as well as Aruba (an island in the Caribbean) to co-create decolonized inclusive mapping practices and that will result in tangible map outputs in two diverse yet historically linked contexts. The project will involve the creation of a museum exhibition and open access atlas that stages an important and difficult conversation around what it means to decolonize mapping practices in the context of sustainable development. One of the aims of this research is to identify how particular mapping practices and visualizations at the local level might potentially reshape meaning and perceptions at the global scale.

The PhD researcher will be responsible for employing a mixed method research approach to examine the potential for mapping practices to navigate diverse values and themes to enable multi-scalar collective action – both in the local island contexts and internationally in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This PhD position will be based at Utrecht University, The Netherlands. The position includes extensive fieldwork in Aruba and on the island of Texel in the Netherlands.