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Vacancy PhD student ‘circular economy and the maker movement’ (m/f)

HIVA - Research Institute for Work and Society is a multidisciplinary research institute of KU Leuven. We are a team of more than 70 university researchers. HIVA has a unique position in KU Leuven and beyond because it brings various disciplines together and specialises in policy-oriented research on work and society. Our main priorities are scientific quality and social relevance.

The focus of the HIVA research team ‘climate and sustainable development’ is on the topics of circular economy, sustainability transitions, air quality, climate policy, and environmental taxation. Our research is framed in international or national research programmes (e.g. Horizon 2020), or is commissioned by European, Belgian federal, Flemish or local governments.


  • As a PhD scholar, you will participate in the 4-year multidisciplinary Horizon 2020 project ‘Pop-Machina’ about circular economy and the maker movement in European cities. Pop-Machina aims to demonstrate the power and potential of the maker movement and collaborative production for the EU circular economy. Pilot projects will be developed in European cities, including Leuven, to demonstrate the feasibility and circular economy impact of the maker movement, with a focus on bottom-up dynamics and initiatives from local stakeholders.
  • Parallel to the work for the research project, you will contribute to the development of a PhD project and you will realise the PhD under supervision of a research manager and a PhD promoter.
  • You will support the coordination of the 23-partner project ‘Pop-Machina’ by contributing to organizing events, communicating with consortium partners and other activities.
  • You may participate occasionally in other projects of the research team.


  • You hold a Master's degree (or equivalent) in political or social sciences or economics, with excellent study results. Other study backgrounds can be considered if you can demonstrate a feel for social sciences. A background or interest in circular economy or environmental policy is an asset.
  • You have strong analytical skills, and the talent to write down your thoughts in a structured and creative way.
  • You have strong presentation and social skills.
  • You have excellent language skills in English, written and oral. You have some basic knowledge of Dutch or you are willing to learn Dutch for day-to-day communication with colleagues.
  • You work well in a team, but also independently.
  • Knowledge of qualitative and quantitative research methods and techniques are an advantage, and you are prepared to acquire further qualifications in this.
  • You have a strong motivation to take a creative approach to the project and PhD project, and to develop and finalise the PhD project in a timely manner.
  • You are prepared to travel short periods to other European countries several times a year, for consortium meetings, conferences, events, interviews, and other fieldwork.


  • The opportunity to cooperate in an innovative, international and future-oriented research project with significant societal and scientific relevance. Extensive learning opportunities and inspiring collaboration with consortium members from various European countries.
  • Intensive supervision and the opportunity to specialise and follow training.
  • A full-time appointment with a PhD scholarship with extensive social security protection, starting with one year, renewable after yearly evaluation for a period of up to four years. You are expected to defend your PhD after four years.
  • A pleasant working and team atmosphere in a multi-disciplinary, dynamic university team.
  • HIVA attaches a great deal of importance to an organisational climate in which employees can actively contribute to the institution's objectives and in which they can develop their own talents. You will work in an environment where initiative is appreciated and personal commitment is encouraged.


For more information please contact Mr. Kris Bachus, tel.: +32 16 32 31 25, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than April 28, 2019 via the online application tool.

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