PhD vacancy with a focus on ethical aspects in addressing societal challenges with AI

Maastricht University offers a full-time PhD position in Ethics and Philosophy of Technology, focusing on Responsible Use of Data and AI in the public sector and the provision of public services.

Job description

This is a unique 4-year PhD position for a student who is looking to make a difference. A student who wants to do research, but only with a clear societal goal. A student with an interest in ethics and politics of AI, to ensure we use new technologies in a responsible way.

Fighting poverty is now more relevant than ever, and we are looking for someone who is excited to pick up this societal challenge, together with us. The PhD-project is embedded in the Brightlands ELSA-lab Poverty and Debt, a consortium of regional partners searching for ways to use AI and data-driven technologies to help mitigate poverty and problematic debt and improve access to public services.  The goal of the PhD project is to develop and test an approach to ensure that AI applications in the domain of poverty and debt are ethically sound and societally responsible. It is crucial that in developing and testing the approach, relevant societal organizations and citizens are involved.

We offer a dynamic and challenging job in an internationally oriented organization. You will develop and carry out your PhD project at the Brightlands Institute for Smart Society, an interfaculty institute of Maastricht University that focuses on the societally beneficial development and application of digital and data driven technology. You will collaborate closely with the researchers at BISS.

In addition, you will also be affiliated the world renowned Maastricht University Science and Technology Studies Research Programme, and the graduate school of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.


What we require

We are looking for a candidate who shares our passion and motivation, with:

  • A finished relevant Master’s Degree. Of specific interest are candidates with a background in ethics and philosophy of technology, science and technology studies, or other relevant fields in the social sciences and humanities.
  • Experience of or the willingness to develop expertise doing research that addresses the interrelationships between digital technologies (specifically AI in any of its manifestations) and their use in society.
  • Experience with or the willingness to develop expertise in qualitative methods, such as interviews or focus groups.
  • Written and spoken command of English and Dutch. In order to connect to stakeholders and set up participatory processes, understanding and speaking Dutch is crucial.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 1 + 3 years.

What we offer

  • Remuneration will be according to standard salary levels for PhD students starting with a salary of €2,325- with a yearly growth to € 2,972- gross a month (based on a full-time appointment.
  • In addition to the salary, we offer an 8% holiday allowance and an 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • 232 vacation hours per year for full-time employment and the possibility of expanding this slightly and additional holidays;
  • ABP pension;
  • Work life balance. For example, we offer a corporate fitness plan, a bicycle scheme, flexible working hours and partially paid parental leave.

The terms of employment at Maastricht University are largely set out in the Collective Bargaining Agreement of Dutch Universities. In addition, local provisions specific to UM apply. For more information, consult the website > About UM > Working at UM.


Maastricht University

Maastricht University (UM) is known for its unique innovative and problem-based education system (PBL), which is characterized by a small-scale and student-centered approach. Research at UM is multidisciplinary and thematic in nature, and is concentrated in research institutes and schools. UM currently has nearly 22,000 students and approximately 5,000 employees. As a result of its highly international character, a large proportion of both students and employees come from abroad. UM has six faculties: Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Faculty of Law, School of Business and Economics, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience.

For more information visit:


Brightlands Institute for Smart Society (BISS)

At Brightlands Institute for Smart Society (BISS), Maastricht University scientists work on innovative and responsible solutions to data challenges. All disciplines and faculties collaborate in applying data science and technology to solve real life societal and business needs. BISS was set up by Maastricht University, the Province of Limburg and APG. BISS is located on the Brightlands Smart Services Campus in Heerlen, the Netherlands.

BISS’ mission is to empower people and organisations through the socially responsible application of digital technologies. We focus on privacy preserving technologies, on value creation from data, and on human-technology interaction.

BISS is part of Brightlands, an open innovation community in Limburg, The Netherlands with 29,000 innovative entrepreneurs, researchers and students. Every day they work on breakthroughs in the field of sustainability, health and digitization. At Brightlands Smart Services Campus in Heerlen they enable knowledge in the field of data science to lead to new smart digital services that improve the quality of life.

Additional information

Interested in this vacancy?

Inquiries may be directed to Dr Robert Gianni, department of Philosophy/ BISS (

You can apply for this position by clicking the “apply now” button

Apply via postal mail

Don’t forget to mention AcademicTransfer and the job number: AT2023.236 in your letter.

Application procedure

Please send your application to

Interested candidates should send:

  • A letter of motivation
  • A detailed CV
  • A copy of your master thesis

After the closing date of the vacancy, you can expect a response from us within 2 weeks. The application process consists of a first round of one interview with 3 people, and if selected for round 2 a presentation for the BISS-team.

Maastricht University is committed to promoting and nurturing a diverse and inclusive community. We believe that diversity in our staff and student population contributes to the quality of research and education at UM, and strive to enable this through inclusive policies and innovative projects led by teams of staff and students. We encourage you to apply for this position.

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