PhD position: Multi-criteria assessment of agricultural sustainability (100%, 4 years)

Firma / Institution
Forschungsinstitut für biologischen Landbau FiBL

5070 Frick


The Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL Switzerland is one of the world’s leading research and information centres for organic agriculture. In the Department of Socioeconomics we offer by January 2022 or by agreement a PhD position: Multi-criteria assessment of agricultural sustainability (100%, 4 years).

Are you interested in developing a new perspective on sustainable agriculture and co-creating a vision of a sustainable food system for Switzerland? We are offering a PhD on the project “Deliberative diets: Connecting producers and consumers to value the sustainability of Swiss food system scenarios”, which is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation’s (SNSF) Sinergia programme for interdisciplinary re-search. The outputs will support a participative process, involving citizen deliberations and interactions with experts, to formulate robust, ethically grounded and value-led policy recommendations.

As PhD student, you will

  • Review and further develop indicators of agricultural sustainability covering all sustainability dimen-sions (environmental, social, economic) and at scales (product, farm, region and whole-supply chain)
  • Focus particularly on the social dimension by developing and testing novel, theory-driven methods
  • Review and apply appropriate and participatory aggregation methods for combining indicators within a multi-criteria framework (e.g. using Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis or related approaches)
  • Apply the resulting approach to assess the sustainability of high-impact and high-importance agri-food supply chains feeding Switzerland (cacao from Ecuador and almonds from Spain)

Ideally you have the following profile

  • MSc degree in agricultural, social or environmental sciences (students with other backgrounds may apply)
  • Strong interest in inter- and transdisciplinary research (e.g. ecological economics, sustainability sci-ences), and the integration of both quantitative and qualitative methods
  • Experience with handling complex data, ideally with software tools such R, is an advantage
  • Commitment to finalise a PhD, develop excellent research skills through further training, and supervise students at the Bachelor and Master level
  • The ability to work effectively as a member of a multi-disciplinary research team, and carry out independent individual research, to support team goals
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills in English. A good working knowledge of Spanish is highly desirable, in order to conduct data collection in the field

We are offering

A full-time position for a duration of 48 months (4 years) at an interdisciplinary research group focused on sustainable agriculture, organic agriculture and agroecology. You will be part of a dynamic team with shared values about making the food system more sustainable and using solution-orientated research to achieve that goal. The PhD builds on existing research from the Sustainability Assessment group at FiBL (e.g. the SMART-Farm Tool). It is part of a larger project with collaborators at the University of Bern, Cen-tre for Development and Environment (CDE) and the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Land-scape Research WSL (Birmensdorf; Research Unit Economics and Social Sciences). The position will mainly be based in FiBL in Frick, Switzerland, but involve research visits to collaborating institutions in Switzerland (CDE, WSL) and abroad (partners in Ecuador and Spain). The working environment is flexi-ble, involving a hybrid of on-site and remote work. The salary is set according to the standard levels of the Swiss National Science Foundation SNSF.


Michael Curran is looking forward to answering any questions you may have about the position (Department of Socioeconomics, FiBL;

Please apply by sending your CV, letter of motivation, MSc Thesis and transcripts of grades to by the 24th October 2021. Interviews will be held on the 2nd, 3rd and 8th of November.

Bewerbung / Kontakt

Michael Curran

Department of Socioeconomics

+41 62 865 04 30