2-Year fulltime postdoc vacancy NWO project “Designing for Controversies in Responsible Smart Cities”

Work with me as a postdoc at Utrecht University in this project:

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Postdoc position in project “Designing for Controversies in Responsible Smart Cities” (1.0 FTE)


We are looking for a Postdoc researcher (2 years, fulltime) who has experience and/or affinity with smart cities, datafication, public values, and design. You will be working at Utrecht University under the supervision of Dr. Michiel de Lange in the collaborative project “Designing for Controversies in Responsible Smart Cities”. The project is funded by NWO as part of the Smart Culture – Creative Cities call. The overall Project Leader is Prof. Mascha van der Voort at the University of Twente (UTwente); co-leads are Prof. Peter-Paul Verbeek (UTwente) and Dr. Michiel de Lange (dep. Media and Culture Studies, Universiteit Utrecht). Non-academic project consortium partners include The Municipality of Amersfoort, Marxman Advocaten, Aerovision, Kennislab voor Urbanisme, and the Design Innovation Group.

The project aims to investigate how controversies around the smart city can be made visible and debatable in order to garner broader civic engagement and agency. One of these controversies concerns the role of datafication in shaping today’s cities and urban culture in general, and public values in particular. What controversies arise from the datafication of urban life (e.g. ontological, epistemological, socio-political)? How can data aid in strengthening civic participation and public values in the smart city? What legal and privacy controversies arise through datafication? How can design interventions help to tease out these and other controversies, as well as the potential affordances of civic data?As part of the project you will be working closely together with, and complementing a PhD researcher (UTwente, started Oct. 2018) and a Postdoc (UTwente, started Nov. 2018). Their focus is on the role of design and ethics in making controversies around the smart city visible and debatable.

Tasks for the Postdoc candidate will include:

  • mapping controversies around datafication in the smart city, with a focus on Amersfoort;
  • translating these to a research-by-design approach together with consortium partners;
  • exploring legal and privacy related controversies as part of the smart city;
  • complementing collaborative work on setting up and evaluating design interventions;
  • regular briefing of the project team on progress and findings;
  • reaching out and collaborating with the non-academic consortium partners, e.g. Marxman Advocaten about privacy and legal issues.
  • assisting in educational tasks (max. 20%).


  • A completed PhD dissertation in a relevant field such as Media Studies, Social Science, Philosophy of Technology, Human Geography, Urban Design or any field related to the project topic.
  • Knowledge about processes of technological mediation in general, and datafication of the city in particular.
  • Experience in research on (smart) cities and urban culture.
  • Knowledge of theories about civic participation and empowerment, and public values.
  • A vision on and/or expertise in working on a specific controversy or friction.
  • Affinity/experience with research by design.

Additional strengths:

  • affinity with legal and ethical matters;
  • affinity with (formulating) policy;
  • ability to understand Dutch because of the situated local context.

Salary Benefits:

The Postdoc position will be for a two-year period, full time. The postdoc is expected to start on 1 June 2019 or not long after (Sept 1 2019 at the latest). Initially, there is a one-year contract. After a positive evaluation this contract can be extended for another year (2 years in total).

The salary scale will be 10/11, the gross salary will be between €3,389 and €3,637 per month on a full-time basis depending on experience and qualifications. Utrecht University offers a pension scheme, a holiday allowance of 8% per year, an end-of-year bonus of 8.3% and flexible employment conditions. Conditions are based on the Collective Employment Agreement of the Dutch Universities. More information: terms of employment.

Work Hours:

38 – 40 hours per week

deadline: 12 April 2019

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