Thursday, January 7, 2016

[beasiswa] [info] Improving Anticipation and Social Inclusion in Living Labs for Smart City Governance


Postdoc: SmarterLabs Improving Anticipation and Social Inclusion in Living Labs for
Smart City Governance
Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)
Location: Brussels, Belgium
Starting period: March 2016
About the research project:
The SmarterLabs project deals with two major risks to a successful, widespread
implementation of smart transport technologies. These two risks concern (1) unforeseen
barriers to large-scale change in socio-technical systems, and (2) exclusion of social groups
not matching the required 'smart citizen' profile. The proposed novel, 'smarter' approach
will be developed, tested and refined by retrospective analysis of urban mobility governance
and by action research in Living Lab experiments in four western European cities: Bellinzona
(CH), Brussels (BE), Graz (AT) and Maastricht (NL). The main feature of this approach is to
anticipate these two major risks through ex-ante diagnosis, and then address these explicitly
in the design of the Living Lab experiments in such a way that an enhaced success rate can
be achieved in the uptake of smart urban mobility innovations.
The overall design of the Living Lab experiments is based on principles of 'transition
experiments' (Hoogma, Kemp et al., 2002). In contrast to traditional innovation experiments
aimed at testing and demonstrating change, transition experiments focus on broad
stakeholder involvement, co-creation, and strategic learning to achieve systemic change
(Kemp van den Bosch 2006; van den Bosch, 2010). This approach will be combined with
the logical levels approach (Janschitz Zimmermann, 2010) to guide the development of a
shared, holistic vision of the smart city as an overarching framework for setting the goals for
learning. For the practical implementation of the case study experiements, 'systemic action
research', as developed by Burns (2007, 2012), will be adopted, This permits to take
proactively into account any uncertainties and complexities associated with real-life
settings, including place-specific particularities.
Job description:
The postdoctoral researcher will work on the case of Brussels, which focuses on the impact
of urban mobility on air quality. In close collaboration with a local NGO (BRAL, the postdoc will be involved with, and analysis of, the
development of a living lab setting, in which different actors, including citizens,
organizations, experts and public authorities work together to develop criteria, participatory
measurements, identify geographic patterns of air quality in Brussels, and develop and
implement appropriate analytical modi operandi. The postdoc wil also participate in, and
contribute to, the preparation of reports and various forms of academic publications, and
engage in presentations on the project in workshops and at national and international
The postdoc will be based at the Cosmopolis Centre for Urban Research
( and the Center for Studies on Media, Information and
Telecommunication (SMIT) (, both lead members of the Brussels
Centre for Urban Studies (BCUS) ( at the Vrije Universiteit
Brussel (VUB). The candidate will also act as day-to-day 'Brussels coordinator' in the
international SmarterLabs consortium that includes Maastricht University (NL), the
University of Graz (AT) and the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern
Switzerland in Bellinzona (CH), as well as local stakeholders in the four cities.
Job profile:
The researcher should have a PhD in a field relevant to the project (e.g. urban studies,
geography, environmental studies/sciences, science and technology studies, mobility and
planning, media and communication studies, transport planning, sustainability studies).
Ideally, the candidate possesses strong qualitative research skills (e.g. observation,
interviews, documentary analysis) and experience with action research and/or working with
local/regional stakeholders in policy processes, project design and management, planning
processes, etc. Excellent communication and writing skills in English are a prerequisite, since
the postdoc will play a key role in communicating with all members of the international
consortium and realising international English-language publications on the basis of their
empirical work in this project.
Conditions of employment:
Depending on nationality and work experience, the postdoctoral researcher may be
employed either on postdoc bursary terms, or on a fixed-term standard employment
contract as researcher. International candidates (non-Belgian nationality, no previous work
experience in Belgium, and PhD degree from a non-Belgian university) can be hired full-time
(1.0 FTE, 38 hours per week) on a bursary scheme. Others will be employed on fractional
terms (approx 0.6 FTE (depending on previous qualifications and work experience). Either
way, the position is available for a fixed term of three years. Starting date: March 2016, or
as soon as possible thereafter.
Information and application:
For more information about the project and position, please contact Bas van Heur
( To apply, please e-mail a motivation letter and CV, including list of
publications, to Bas van Heur no later than 1 February 2016. Interviews (in Brussels or via
Skype) with the shortlisted candidates will take place in the first two weeks of February


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