Research School for Economic and Social History


PhD ‘On the Footprint of Colonialism’ – deadline 31 March 2023

The Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development is looking for an outstanding and highly motivated PhD candidate with a deep interest in land use and history, and especially in interdisciplinary scholars with strong modelling and quantitative data analysis skills. The PhD candidate will work within two of the main research sections of the Copernicus Institute: Innovation Studies and Environmental Sciences at the core of Copernicus themes’ Integrated Modelling, Transitions, Sustainable Land and Sustainable Food.

Quantifying the cumulative attribution of countries to biodiversity loss and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions arising from land change is of critical importance to achieve global environmental justice. Attribution of individual countries to past land change in an objective manner gives clear information for negotiations around loss and damage finances as recently debated at United Nations conference on climate Change (COP27) and biodiversity (COP15). The aim of this project is to quantify the relative attribution of different countries to biodiversity loss and GHG emissions arising from land change since the colonial period using footprint analysis. This will illustrate to what extent the burden of resource extraction has shifted over time and how colonial legacies impact environmental footprints in present day. The research uses an approach that integrates the HYDE database of landcover change with reconstructions of resource flows based on historical data and footprint modelling techniques.

Applications should be submitted by 31 March 2023 via the dedicated portal (see also button below).