PhD fellow in geography


University of Copenhagen


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Start Date

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Description of the scientific environment  
The successful candidate will be attached to the EU funded Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN): Operationalising telecouplings for solving sustainability challenges related to land use (COUPLED) and based in the research group ‘Environment and Society in Developing Countries’ at the Section of Geography, Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management. The group is interdisciplinary and works on a wide range of issues related to complexities of land use and land cover change, natural resource management, earth observation and societal processes. It is composed of eight permanent scientific staff and more than 25 PhD students and Post Docs.  
In order to be eligible, each applicant must fulfil the following criteria at the time of recruitment:  
  •  Mobility: At the time of recruitment, the applicant must not have resided or carried out his/her main activity (work, studies, etc…) in the country of the host organization for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to his/her recruitment. Compulsory national service and/or short stays such as holidays are not taken into account.  
  •  Qualifications and research experience: The applicant must fulfil the requirements defined for Early Stage Researchers (ESRs): ESRs are researcher who, at the time of recruitment, has NOT yet been awarded the doctorate degree and is in the first 4 years (full-time equivalent) of his/her research career.  
 Project description  
The objective of this PhD is to understand how certification of palm oil affects deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia. By studying the certified palm oil trade link between EU and Southeast Asia and the uncertified palm oil link between Russia and Southeast Asia, the project will evaluate whether certification may have unexpected and indirect effects across the complex and globalised commodity networks. Such effects may lead to the strengthening or even expansion of systems that are considered unsustainable (e.g. involving clearing of conservation-value forests, degrading management practices or land grabbing) and hence undermine the efforts made in terms of sustainability governance. The successful PhD candidate will apply field surveys, spatial analyses and network analyses to understand flows and institutions linking actors at all levels to processes and spatial outcomes. On that basis, the candidate is expected to develop and evaluate tools and approaches allowing assessment of the impacts of certification on telecoupled systems. The research will lead to (1) Creation of knowledge on how telecoupling processes affect the environmental outcome of certification interventions and on how unwanted outcomes may be avoided (2) Development of new approaches that integrate place-based data-sets of a multidisciplinary nature with network analyses and (3) Development of methodologies to attribute impacts to drivers in telecoupled land use systems.  
Principal supervisor is Associate Prof. Thilde Bech Bruun, Section for Geography, Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, , Direct Phone: +45 3533 3412. Co-supervisor is Prof. Peter Messerli, University of Bern, Switzerland  
Job description  
The position is available for a 3-year period and your key tasks as a PhD student at SCIENCE are:  
  • To manage and carry out your research project within the framework of the COUPLED project  
  • Attend PhD courses, including the comprehensive course programme offered through the COUPLED project  
  • Write scientific articles and your PhD thesis  
  • Disseminate your research  
  • Two secondments will take place during the PhD: at the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil Production, Malaysia and at the University of Bern, Switzerland.  

Contact Name

Thilde Bech Bruun

Contact Email