PhD position on the social dimensions of a transition towards a circular food system (100%)

Firma / Institution
Forschungsinstitut für biologischen Landbau FiBL

CH-5070 Frick


The Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL Switzerland is one of the world’s leading research and information centers for organic agriculture. In the Department of Socioeconomics and in collaboration with Wageningen University we offer by September 2021 or by agreement a PhD position on the social dimensions of a transition towards a circular food system (100%).

This PhD project will be associated to the project ‘Towards a circular food system’. In this project, we aim to develop pathways towards sustainable food systems that respect human and planetary health. To facilitate such a transition, pathways need to be tailor-made to local characteristics, support local SDGs and the Par-is agreement. We will focus on multiple case study countries that differ in socio-economic aspects and agro-ecological conditions, to understand their needs for transformation and related challenges and opportuni-ties. Together with key stakeholders of these countries, we will identify circular strategies and the related potential transformation paths to achieve their implementation, and assess them in terms of wealth, diets, changes in the agricultural sector, land use, and other sustainability characteristics, as well as related trade-offs and synergies.

In particular, this PhD will focus on social dimensions and model-supported stakeholder processes related to the development and potential future implementation of such transformation pathways. This entails employing a variety of social sciences methods to organise stakeholder processes and to collect and analyse the data relevant for understanding the envisaged food system transformations and how to potentially initiate and support them. This PhD position is closely related to the PhD position on modelling impacts of a transition towards a circular food system at FiBL Switzerland and Wageningen University that is adver-tised simultaneously.

Ideally you have the following profile

  • MSc degree in social sciences (in particular socio-economics, sociology, politology), agronomy, ge-ography, food security, development studies. Students with other backgrounds may also apply
  • Experience with quantitative and qualitative methods of social sciences, experience with stakehold-er processes is a plus
  • Commitment to finalise a PhD, combined with a training and supervision trajectory
  • The ability to work effectively as a member of a multi-disciplinary research team, and carry out in-dependent individual research, to achieve team goals

We are offering

  • A full-time position for a duration of 48 months (4 years, performance evaluation within 12 months)
  • The PhD-degree will be issued by Wageningen University (Promoter: Dr. Hannah van Zanten)
  • The research will mainly be carried out at FiBL in Frick, Switzerland and will require regular visits to Wageningen, the Netherlands as well as to the case study countries
  • Salary according to the PhD salary levels of the Swiss National Science Foundation
  • Attractive working environment with flexible working conditions within an international group

Please submit your application (motivation letter and CV) to until 29.7.2021.

If possible for the candidate, the interviews will take place on 3. and 4.8.2021.

Bewerbung / Kontakt

Interested? If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Adrian Müller Department of Socioeconomics (FiBL),, and Dr. Hannah van Zanten, Associate Professor, Farming Systems Ecolo-gy group, Wageningen University,,