PhD/Postdoc call DecouplingIT

The IT University of Copenhagen invites highly motivated individuals to apply for 2 fully funded PhD/postdoctoral positions starting 1 September 2023 or soon thereafter. PhD stipends are of a 3-year duration, whereas a postdoctoral position will be for 2 years.

We invite applicants who want to contribute to the IT University’s vision of creating and sharing knowledge that is profound and leads to groundbreaking information technology and services for the benefit of humanity; and to contribute to the Business IT Department’s research profile.

The applicants are expected to have a solid background in qualitative social science such as anthropology, science and technology studies (STS), geography, sociology or other relevant disciplines. Experience with ethnographic fieldwork is a prerequisite.

The selected candidates will be part of the Technologies in Practice (TiP) research group, and employed in the ITUʼs Dept. of Business IT. There they will work as part of the research project DecouplingIT funded by a Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council.

The DecouplingIT project consists of a committed team of researchers working to ethnographically explore how (economic) growth is decoupled from climate impacts within various IT enterprises around the world. The project approaches this by exploring the practices of IT enterprises and professionals who articulate climate change as a problem in need of IT-generated innovations, and in particular how they practically deploy IT with the climate in mind. Theoretically, the project will explore how sociocultural change is generated in the spaces between IT, climate change and capitalism.

Job description The DecouplingIT works with pre-defined regions where the studies must take place.

The two PhDs/postdocs are expected to conduct independent ethnographic studies in either a European or an African climate/tech hub. That is, in ethnographic sites where climate and IT are in some form of interesting and/or problematic relationship. The ethnographic focus should be centred on how the climate becomes an object of attention and/or value within the world of IT organizations – broadly conceived as software developers or engineers, IT entrepreneurs, and so on. As an industry, IT is tasked with both reducing its own climate impacts while generating and facilitating ‘solutions’ for other industries. As such, the conjunction of climate and IT should be the central focus of the research proposal. The purpose of these sub-projects is to contribute to an understanding of how IT organizations and IT professionals in European or African countries mediate the complex set of relationships that arise at the nexus of climate and environmental concerns, narratives of entrepreneurial agency, and aspirations towards decoupled growth.

Possible examples include studying relations to environmental impacts and energy use within the Icelandic data and cryptocurrency industries fuelled by the extraction of cheap fossil free energy, or working in the Kenyan tech eco-system nick-named Silicon Savannah, which is an East African hub for innovation in IT solutions and digital entrepreneurship. An Icelandic case could address the conflicts and ambiguities produced within the Icelandic data and cryptocurrency industries as they grow their operations and extract value from digital landscapes through the extraction of cheap fossil free energy from Icelandic geothermal landscapes. A Kenyan case could focus on IT-based responses to local climate effects such as the drilling of ‘digital wells’ as a solution to water scarcity from frequent droughts, or the recent use of Internet of Things (IoT) concepts to reduce emissions and support circular economy approaches in handling different types of waste collection and management in Nairobi. The study could favourably be anchored in local incubator institutions, which are hailed as successful by development donors in driving local technological solutions to climate change, and in this way also approach how Kenya in relation to climate mitigation is implicated in a variety of North-South relationships.

As part of the application, the applicant must provide a brief (max 3 pages) research proposal indicating where they will do fieldwork, how they will do so, and how the site chosen can address the overall theme of decoupling. This proposal should present the specific literature the applicant is using to ground their project as well as how they imagine their study can be carried out and concretized with due attention to its analytical framework, methodology, language barriers, ethics, etc.

The successful candidates are expected to conduct independent ethnographic subprojects, while at the same time contributing to the general project’s overall purpose and aims. They must work within the practice- and process-oriented social science framework presented by the project while considering a series of cross-project research questions:

  • how do actors within the IT sector think about their work in light of the climate crisis?
  • how do these actors perceive or value ‘the climate’ or ‘the environment within their daily routines and practices?
  • what role does growth play in such work, and how (if at all) is it articulated as an overarching value?

The core assessment criteria are the coherence and plausibility of the proposal’s key ideas, assumptions, and approach, how well the candidate demonstrates methodological, analytical, and theoretical capability, and how well the candidate is qualified to carry out the study they propose.

Candidates are welcome to take inspiration from the above to develop alternative subproject ideas under the overall academic approach and within the regions specified by the DecouplingIT project. 

About the department/BIT Business IT is organized in three interdisciplinary research groups Technologies in Practice, Information Systems and Digital Innovation and REFLACT. The groups share an interest in the socio-technical fabric of digitalization and digital transformation and comprise more than 30 assistant, associate and full professors. Research at Business IT provides basis for reflecting on how digital technologies may be used mindfully and beneficially in the private and public sector. Business IT offers a BSc inGlobal BusinessInformatics, aMSc in Digital Innovation & Management, and a professional part-time masterprogramme in IT management. It hosts three research centers Center for Digital Welfare, Center for Climate IT and European Blockchain Centerin addition to two academic labs ETHOS lab and BUILD lab

General information The IT University of Copenhagen (ITU) is a teaching and research-based tertiary institution concerned with information technology (IT) and the opportunities it offers. The IT University has more than 160 full-time Faculty members. Research and teaching in information technology span all academic activities which involve computers including computer science, information and media sciences, humanities and social sciences, business impact and the commercialization of IT.

The TiP research group is an internationally leading hub for ethnographically oriented STS-research. The group currently houses 16 research faculty, 3 postdocs and 9 PhD students. The members of contribute to 3 interdisciplinary degree programmes at the ITU – BSc in Global Business Informatics, MSc in Digital Innovation Management and a professional masters in IT Leadership.

Qualification Requirements The following qualifications are required:

  • PhD candidates must hold a two-year MA/MSc-degree (or equivalent) in a discipline such as those mentioned above.
  • Postdoctoral candidates must hold a PhD degree (or equivalent) in a discipline such as those mentioned above.
  • Documented competence with qualitative social science methods (preferably ethnographic).
  • Fluency in academic English.

Highly Desired Qualifications:

  • Familiarity with practice- and process-oriented social science theories and analysis
  • Familiarity with social science discussions on climate change.
  • Familiarity with social science studies of digital technologies and the IT-sector.
  • Familiarity with regional literature pertaining to the fieldsite they wish to study.
  • Familiarity with the language(s) spoken at the fieldsite they wish to study.

Salary Appointment and salary will be in accordance with the Ministry of Finance’s agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations (AC).

Application Applications should be in English and must include:

  • A cover letter summarising the candidate’s background and qualifications, their motivation for working with academic research and for the DecouplingIT project.
  • Curriculum Vitae including the names and addresses of two professional/academic references. A list of publications can be included if the candidate has any.
  • A research proposal aimed at one of the three subprojects mentioned above. This should be max 3 pages.
  • Documentation of academic degrees including grade transcripts.
  • Up to 3 academic publications (incl. MA/MSc or PhD thesis) may be enclosed. The enclosed publications should be marked with an asterisk (*) in the list of publications.

Applications without the above-mentioned documents will not be assessed.

Selected candidates may be invited for an interview either at the ITU or via Zoom.

Early contact regarding the application is encouraged. Questions about the position, the DecouplingIT project, and its goals and research publications can be directed to Professor Steffen Dalsgaard (

Successful applicants will be employed and enrolled at the ITU University for a period of up to 3 years and are expected to relocate to Copenhagen for that same period, fieldwork time excepted.

Application procedure You can only apply for this position through our e-recruitment system. Apply by pushing the button below  “Apply for position”. 

The IT University may use shortlisting in connection with the recruitment process. In case of shortlisting, the Hiring Committee selects applicants for assessment after the application deadline. All applicants are notified whether their application has been passed for assessment. The shortlisting of candidates for assessment is based on the criteria in the job posting.

Please read about the PhD program at ITU here

Please read the guidelines for applicants carefully before filling in the application form. You can see the guidelines through this link

Applications should be written in English. All other documents, such as transcripts should be accompanied by a translation in English or Danish.

Please note that all application material will be destroyed after the assessment.

Application deadline: 1 June 2023 at 23:59 CET/CEST.

Applications/enclosures received at ITU after the application deadline will not be taken into consideration. If you submit an application, it is your responsibility to ensure that it arrives before the deadline so please allow sufficient time for upload of publications and other documents.

The IT University invites all qualified researchers regardless of age, gender, religious affiliation, or ethnic background to apply for the positions.