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Ph.D. Position on Populism, polarization, and the political feasibility of climate policy at NMBU, Norway 2022


Ph.D. Position on Populism, polarization, and the political feasibility of climate policy is available for Master’s degree candidates in international relations, political science, international environmental studies, sociology, human geography, psychology, economics, global development studies, area studies at the Department of International Environment and Development Studies (Noragric), Faculty of Landscape and Society (LANDSAM), Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), Norway Apr 2022


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General Info

Position: PhD
No. of Positions: 1
Research Field: , , , , , , ,
Deadline to Apply: Expired
Joining Date: ASAP
Contract Period: 4 Years
Salary: NOK 491 200/year

Department of International Environment and Development Studies (Noragric), Faculty of Landscape and Society (LANDSAM)

NMBU Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway


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Qualification Details

The successful applicant must meet the conditions defined for admission to a PhD programme at the Faculty. The applicant must have an academically relevant education corresponding to a five-year Norwegian degree programme.

Required academic qualifications:

  • A Master’s degree in international relations, political science, international environmental studies, sociology, human geography, psychology, economics, global development studies, area studies.
  • Documented strong academic background from previous studies (Master degree GPA: B or better; Master thesis B or better)
  • Documented proficiency in English (written and oral)

For more detailed information on the admission criteria please see the PhD Regulations and the supplementary provisions for the faculty’s  PhD programmes.

In the evaluation of the applications, emphasis will be placed on:

  • The applicant’s academic qualifications
  • The quality of the research proposal
  • Experience with research on populism and/or climate/environmental policy
  • Excellent time-management and organizational skills
  • Good communication skills
  • Ability to work independently as well as collaboratively within a research group
  • Motivation to work in interdisciplinary contexts.

Responsibilities/Job Description

The Department of International Environment and Development Studies (Noragric), Faculty of Landscape and Society (LANDSAM) at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) has a vacant four-year PhD–position in International Environment and Development Studies with one year of project work included.

We invite candidates to develop research ideas directed towards exploring and explaining the relationship between populism, political polarization, and opposition to climate policy. Populism is on the rise in many democracies, emerging as an entrenched, long-lasting force across the world that will continue to shape politics. The rise in populism and polarization poses a serious challenge to democracy and international collaboration generally, and to climate change governance particularly. It is a topical and growing field of study in international relations and related disciplines.

Populism is often associated with opposition to climate policy and contributes to polarization of climate politics, but options for responding to such opposition remain largely unexplored academically. Populism can be studied through different conceptual lenses, including the ideational approach (populism as an ideology), the political-strategic approach (populism as a political strategy), and the socio-cultural approach (populism as culturally contingent). Each of these approaches, or a combination, opens a wealth of research avenues to critically study the connections between populism, political polarization, and climate policy.

Climate change has increasingly become a politicized, contentious policy issue that triggers resistance from populist movements, indicating that increasing polarization might reduce the political feasibility of effective climate policies. This development stands in sharp contrast to the message from climate science that avoiding dangerous climate change require an unprecedented societal transition.

Populism therefore represents one of the major stumbling blocks to progress under the Paris Agreement. Still, the reasons for populist opposition are not well understood in the academic literature. Diagnosing the opposition is necessary for facilitating a more constructive inclusion of populist groups in climate policy debates. Moreover, exploring possible avenues for including populist movements in socially just sustainability transitions could help identify solutions to overcome climate policy opposition.

We welcome applicants that propose to:

  • Study populism and/or political polarization in relation to climate policy, either in case studies, surveys, or comparatively.
  • Demonstrate how the chosen empirical focus may help explore and explain opposition to climate policy in populist political parties, among voters, or other social contexts.
  • Explore drivers of populist opposition to climate policy, such as ideology, marginalization, structural/economic factors, or other.
  • Consider the potential for how/if democratic challenges from populism and/or polarization could be overcome through e.g. participatory processes, conflict management, deliberative approaches, etc.
  • Apply social science approaches suitable to the empirical study of populism and polarization’s effect on climate policy, including qualitative and/or quantitative research methods.

Noragric assembles scholars in international relations, political science, human geography, anthropology, and other social scientists specialized in sustainability, climate change, security, conflict and vulnerability, which provides an interdisciplinary and experienced academic community eager to interact with the successful candidate.

Main tasks

The appointed candidate is admitted to a PhD programme at the faculty. The PhD programme consists of mandatory and elective courses (30 ECTS) with written and oral examinations, and a major research component. The PhD candidate will during the first months of the appointment develop a full research proposal and progress plan for the four-year PhD period.

The PhD candidate will join the department’s research cluster on Conflict, Human Security and Development

For the project work (altogether one year work during the appointment periode) the candidate will be  associated with the research project Right-wing populism and the political feasibility of climate policy (POPCLIM), financed by Research Council of Norway, and contribute to POPCLIM’s interdisciplinary international research network focused on the study of populism, political polarization, and the implications for climate and/or environmental policy. Specific activities will be agreed upon in collaboration with the successful candidate.

How to Apply?

Application Method: Online Application
Ref. No.: -

Application Procedure

Please register your application electronically under 'Apply for this job'. This will route you to the University's Web Recruitment System, where you will need to register an account (if you have not already) and log in before completing the online application form.

In the electronic application process, the candidate must confirm that information and documentation (in the form of attachments) submitted via the job application can also be used by NMBU in a possible admission process.

The shortlisted applicants will be called for an interview as a part of the evaluation. Applicants invited for an interview are expected to present original diplomas and certificates.

For the application to be considered it must include:

  • Application letter describing the applicant’s qualifications and motivation for the position.
  • Research outline (max 4000 words) indicating research interests related to the themes outlined above, including relevant research questions, theoretical and methodological approaches – this will be further developed after employment (see guideline  for research outline)
  • Curriculum Vitae (complete list of education, positions, teaching experience, administrative experience, and other qualifying activities).
  • Certified copies of academic diplomas and transcripts. Diplomas, transcripts and diploma supplements that are not in Norwegian or English must be uploaded in the original language. An English translation of these documents must also be attached. Applicants from universities outside Norway are kindly requested to send a diploma supplement, or a similar document, which describes in detail the study program and grading system.
  • One writing sample, for example master thesis, academic paper or article, book chapter, or equivalent
  • Documentation of proficiency in written and oral English
  • Names and contact details for two references (no recommendation letters required at this stage)
  • It is the applicant’s responsibility to submit a complete application. No changes/additions are allowed after the last date of application. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

About the Department/Section/Group

The Department of International Environment and Development Studies (Noragric) is a leading education and research institution in Norway, conducting world class and highly internationalized critical interdisciplinary research across the fields of International Relations, Environmental Studies, and Global Development Studies, focusing on global challenges at the intersection between social and natural processes.  The department is organized in four research clusters: rights and power in development; climate change and agricultural development; conflict and human security; and environmental governance. The Department comprises around 30 academic staff, 25 PhD candidates and 400 fulltime students, and is responsible for one Bachelor program and three Master programs. For further information, read here.

The Department is a unit in The Faculty of Landscape and Society, which in addition to Noragric, is home to four other departments, including public health science, landscape architecture, landscape engineering, urban and regional planning, property development and property law. The Faculty has 1300 students and 180 employees and offers popular, forward-focused Bachelor, Master’s and PhD programmes. The Faculty is interdisciplinary and works with sustainable social development, both nationally and internationally.

The Faculty offers two PhD programmes:

  • Society Development and Planning
  • International Environment and Development Studies

About the Employer:

Note or Other details

Remuneration and further information

The position is placed in government pay scale position code 1017 PhD. PhD fellows are normally placed in pay grade 54 (NOK 491 200) on the Norwegian Government salary scale upon employment and follow ordinary meriting regulations.

Employment is conducted according to national guidelines for University and Technical College PhD scholars.

The successful applicant is expected to start in the position 1 September 2022 and be on campus on a daily basis.

Information for PhD applicants and general information to applicants

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Contact details

For further information, please contact Associate Professor Guri Bang, Noragric. E-mail: [email protected]; phone +47 67232660.

For general questions about the PhD programme, please contact the PhD programme coordinator at [email protected]

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