Postdoc position: Economic and Social History (Utrecht University)

RHN 128/2014 | Opportunity

ERC-funded project “Coordinating for life. Success and failure of Western European societies in coping with rural hazards and disasters, 1300-1800”, Utrecht University (Netherlands)

Apply no later than: 18 December 2014

“Arresting the soil:
Success and failure of societies in preventing soil erosion, 1500-1800”

About the organisation

Utrecht University is one of Europe’s leading research universities, recognised internationally for its high quality and innovative approach to both research and teaching. Founded in 1636, the University has always focused strongly on research. Owing to its solid grounding in discipline- based scholarship, Utrecht University is at the forefront of developments in interdisciplinary knowledge. The University participates in various thematic multidisciplinary collaborations that conduct excellent research. With its prominence in teaching and research, Utrecht University works towards finding solutions of the highest possible impact and significance to the major challenges facing the 21st century.

The Faculty of Humanities has around 7,000 students and 900 staff members. With its research and education in these fields, the Faculty aims to contribute to a better understanding of the Netherlands and Europe in a rapidly changing social and cultural context. The enthusiastic and motivated colleagues and the excellent facilities in the historic town centre of Utrecht, where the Faculty is located, provide a stimulating professional atmosphere.


As a postdoc you will work within the ERC-funded project “Coordinating for life. Success and failure of Western European societies in coping with rural hazards and disasters, 1300-1800”, which aims to explain why some societies are successful in preventing the effects of major hazards and buffering threats, or in recovering quickly, while others prove highly vulnerable. A main element in the project is a comparative analysis, using selected Northwestern European regions as test areas. The project is funded by the European Research Council, by way of an Advanced Grant awarded to project-coordinator Prof. Bas van Bavel.

Within the project, 1 postdoc position will be available:

  • The postdoc (starting preferably 1 April 2015, or earlier) will work on the issue how societies coped with the threat of soil erosion. Soil erosion, with fertile top soils being washed away or covered by drift sands, was found all over Western Europe, especially during the 16th and second half of the 18th century, as it was fuelled by population growth, adverse climatic conditions and growing commercialization. Still, the impact varied widely. Why was this? (Work Package 4 “Arresting the soil: Success and failure of societies in preventing soil erosion, 1500-1800”).

You will be based at Utrecht University, and be part of the research team led by prof. Bas van Bavel and will as such also be part of the department History and Art History, Section Economic and Social History, led by prof. Bas van Bavel and prof. Jan Luiten van Zanden.

A successful candidate should preferably have:

  • a PhD in social and/or economic history or a manuscript submitted to the PhD committee;
  • experience with both qualitative and quantitative research and methods for comparative research;
  • strong interest for relevant theory;
  • capacity to work both as a creative and independent researcher and as part of a team;
  • capacity or at least willingness to collaborate across the academic disciplines;
  • some interest in (historical) geography is a plus;
  • experience in publishing at high academic standards;
  • ability to work in an international, interdisciplinary team.

Additional information

Are you interested? For more information about the project please contact the project leader prof.dr. Bas van Bavel, email: For practical information and questions please contact Linda Westerink, email:

Applicants can also consult the Utrecht University website and tion.pdf for more information of the project.

Please note that the sub-project there (Work Package 4) is indicated as a PhD project, but now is advertised as postdoc project.


Applicants should send a cover letter and a curriculum vitae, certified copies of relevant diplomas, one recent academic publication, the contact details of two referees (names, affiliations and phone numbers or email addresses; preferably, reference letters are included) and a 600-word research design proposal, in which the applicant presents his/her ideas about the relevant project. Included in this proposal in an indication of the specific position and Work Package you are applying for. Please note that applications without this 600-word research design proposal will not be included in the subsequent selection procedure! Please refer to the position you are applying for and use the application button below to apply.


We offer a postdoc-position of 0.8 fte beginning 1 April 2015 (or earlier). The position may be augmented with a 0.2 fte teaching assignment at BA and/or MA-level, when available. Initially, there is a one year contract. After a positive evaluation this contract can be extended with three more years (a total of three to five years maximum). Extension of the contract is conditional to an evaluation based on pre-set criteria and with the restriction that the Collective Labour Agreement in force at the time of the appointment allows for a fixed-term extension. Salary ranges between € 3.037,- and € 3.831,- gross per month on a fulltime basis (i.e. salary scale 10/11 according to the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities) 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

Interviews with selected candidates will take place on 19 January or 22 January 2015. Respond before 18 December 2014.