To study this, the project focuses on the complex interactions and contestations between diverse stakeholders at different levels in the policy-making process, including the politics of discourses on notions like ‘sustainability’ and ‘peace’, and how they result in synergies, as well as frictions, contradictions, and trade-offs. Through innovative peer-to-peer exchange, the project facilitates learning and co-creation of knowledge among stakeholders, aiming to identify how policy-makers can more effectively contribute to sustainable transformations.

Are you an aspiring researcher and would you like to investigate how policy coherence evolves and affects the realisation of Sustainable Development Goals? And does conducting research in sub-Saharan Africa, an area that represents a diversity of SDG-challenges, sound exciting to you? Then you have a part to play as a PhD Candidate for the research project ‘Synergizing Sustainability’. 
Policy coherence is seen as essential for realizing the Sustainable Development Goals. Yet, development policy-makers experience that coherence is not so straightforwardly achieved. The interactive research project ‘Synergizing Sustainability’ studies how the objective of policy coherence evolves and affects synergies among SDGs, by analysing policy-making around agricultural development in and for sub-Saharan Africa. We are particularly interested in how ambitions for boosting food production, employment creation, and climate-change action interact with ambitions for enhancing governance, equity and justice, and sustainable peace. 
To study this, the project focuses on the complex interactions and contestations between diverse stakeholders at different levels in the policy-making process, including the politics of discourses on notions like ‘sustainability’ and ‘peace’, and how they result in synergies, as well as frictions, contradictions, and trade-offs. Through innovative peer-to-peer exchange, the project facilitates learning and co-creation of knowledge among stakeholders, aiming to identify how policy-makers can more effectively contribute to sustainable transformations.

So far, ‘Synergizing Sustainability’ includes a postdoctoral research project and a PhD project. The PhD project studies discourses and practices of policy-making around agricultural development by donors, government, civil society and agri-business in Burkina Faso and Ethiopia (with Uganda as an alternative). Both countries represent a diversity of SDG-related challenges at the interface of food insecurity, resource depletion and climate change; and in legitimate governance, societal stability and justice. In these cases, collaboration between state, market and civil-society actors around agricultural development is difficult. The project aims to unpack discourses on policy coherence and sustainability in these countries; analyse processes of renegotiation and reinterpretation of policy (objectives) by multi-level stakeholders; and explore how more inclusive policy-making impacts coherence as well as policy legitimacy and sustainable peace. The affiliated post-doc project explores donor discourses and practices of policy-making in the EU and its member states and among multilateral organizations, and coherence and incoherence in agricultural development policies of EU member states vis-àvis Sub-Saharan Africa, and experiments with innovative peer-to-peer exchange and co-creation with stakeholders.

As a PhD researcher, you will collect data, predominantly through long-term research in Burkina Faso and Ethiopia, write and co-author scientific articles, and complete your PhD thesis before the assigned deadline. You will organize workshops to reflect on your findings and discuss implications with representatives from government and civil society in those countries, as well as in Europe, and write policy notes.

The position is for 4 years and involves mainly PhD research, and about 5% teaching. In this position you will be trained to become an academic researcher while working on your own PhD project under the supervision of Prof. Mathijs van Leeuwen, and Dr Haley Swedlund, Dr Gerry van der Kamp-Alons, and Dr Maria Kaufman. For parts of the research you will work in close collaboration with the postdoctoral researcher.

You will be part of the teams of both the Department of Political Science and Human Geography, and enrol in the PhD programme at the Institute for Management Research (IMR).


  • You have a Master’s degree in political science, human geography, development studies, anthropology or a related field.
  • You have academic excellence, as evidenced by your CV and grade transcripts.
  • You have experience with conducting ethnographic field research in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, and/or Uganda, or agricultural development projects in Sub-Saharan Africa, or both.
  • You have an excellent command of written and spoken English, and you have good working knowledge of French.
  • You are able to work both independently and as a team player.
  • You have experience with and are committed to action research/research methodologies involving close collaboration with policy-makers and development practitioners, and you can demonstrate an interest in translating research findings to non-academic stakeholders, including local people; you have experience in facilitating workshops or other training activities.
  • You have strong skills in project management, flexibility, proactive behaviour and excellent academic writing skills so that you will be able to finish your PhD thesis before the assigned deadline.
  • You are willing to spend a substantial part of the contract period in Burkina Faso and Ethiopia (two periods of 9-12 months).
  • Applicants from the region are particularly encouraged to apply.

We are

The Nijmegen School of Management (NSM) is an academic centre of research and higher education at Radboud University, focusing on institutional and managerial issues concerning complex organisations in both the public and private domains. It covers seven disciplines: Business Administration, Public Administration, Political Science, Economics and Business Economics, Social and Political Sciences of the Environment, Human Geography, and Spatial Planning. NSM strives for a multidisciplinary approach whenever relevant. 

You will be embedded in the Doctoral School of the interdisciplinary Institute for Management Research (IMR). The IMR research programme is built around 6 multidisciplinary research themes linked to strategic and scientifically and societally relevant issues: European policy, gender and diversity, international conflicts and policy, entrepreneurship and innovation, integrated decision-making, and governance and innovations in social services. Research groups working on these themes consist of researchers from different disciplines and are organized in so-called hotspots. For this PhD position the assigned, and sponsoring, hotspot is Global – Local Divides and Connections (GLOCAL).

You will be part of the Centre of International Conflict Analysis and Management (CICAM) of the Political Science department, but participate in the teams and activities of both the departments of Political Science and Geography, Planning and Environment.

Political Science currently comprises five chairs: Empirical Political Science, Political Theory, International Relations, Contesting Europeanisation, and Conflict Studies. Together these chairs offer Bachelor’s degree programmes in political science and conflict studies and seven Master’s tracks, each leading to a Master’s degree in political science. The educational programme is characterized by small-scale teaching and provides a stimulating learning environment with an emphasis on the development of academic skills. Research in political science focuses on issues of legitimacy and institutional change, and is organised around two themes: Conflict at the Crossroads of the Global and the National, and Sustainable Democracy.

Geography, Planning and Environment has three chair groups: Social Geography, Spatial Planning and Environment, and Politics. The department’s research programme explores the interaction between space, environment and society from complementary perspectives rooted in Political, Economic and Cultural Geography, Urban Planning, Urban Economics, Environmental Politics, and Environmental Sociology. Empirical themes of research include international migration, climate change, cross-border issues, regional and urban development, mobility and transport, water management, grass roots initiatives on sustainability issues, and land use planning and governance.

Radboud University

We want to get the best out of science, others and ourselves. Why? Because this is what the world around us desperately needs. Leading research and education make an indispensable contribution to a healthy, free world with equal opportunities for all. This is what unites the more than 24,000 students and 5,600 employees at Radboud University. And this requires even more talent, collaboration and lifelong learning. You have a part to play!

We offer

  • Employment for 1.0 FTE.
  • The gross starting salary amounts to €2,443 per month based on a 38-hour working week, and will increase to €3,122 in the fourth year (salary scale P).
  • You will receive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus.
  • You will be employed for an initial period of 18 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 2.5 years (4 year contract).
  • You will be able to use our Dual Career and Family Care Services. Our Dual Career and Family Care Officer can assist you with family-related support, help your partner or spouse prepare for the local labour market, provide customized support in their search for employment  and help your family settle in Nijmegen.
  • Working for us means getting extra days off. In case of full-time employment, you can choose between 29 or 41 days of annual leave instead of the legally allotted 20.

Additional employment conditions

Work and science require good employment practices. This is reflected in Radboud University’s primary and secondary employment conditions. You can make arrangements for the best possible work-life balance with flexible working hours, various leave arrangements and working from home. You are also able to compose part of your employment conditions yourself, for example, exchange income for extra leave days and receive a reimbursement for your sports subscription. And of course, we offer a good pension plan. You are given plenty of room and responsibility to develop your talents and realise your ambitions. Therefore, we provide various training and development schemes.

Would you like more information?

For questions about the position, please contact Mathijs van Leeuwen, Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at

Practical information and applications

You can apply until 22 May 2022, exclusively using the button below. Kindly address your application to Mathijs van Leeuwen. Please fill in the application form and attach the following documents:

  • A letter of motivation explaining your motivation, your interest in the project, and your competence in the research field.
  • Your CV including academic qualifications, grades, international experience, a list of publications (if applicable) and two academic references.
  • A writing sample such as a chapter from your Master’s thesis or a forthcoming or published paper.
  • A proposal of two A4 pages maximum (Times New Roman 12, 1.5 spaced) setting out your ideas and the kind of empirical approach you would want to undertake.

The first round of interviews will take place in week 22. The second round of interviews will take place in week 23. You would preferably begin employment on 1 September 2022.
We can imagine you’re curious about our application procedure. It offers a rough outline of what you can expect during the application process, how we handle your personal data and how we deal with internal and external candidates.


We drafted this vacancy to find and hire our new colleague ourselves. Recruitment agencies are kindly requested to refrain from responding.

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