PhD bursary:Social‐Ecological Systems & Resilience 

Historical and conceptual development of Social‐Ecological Systems (SES) research 

The research within this PhD project will  focus on the different aspects associated with the historical and  epistemic development of the interdisciplinary field of SES research. During the course of the last 30 years, social-ecological systems (SES) research has emerged as a field of enquiry that spans the traditional divide  between the natural and social sciences. SES research is based on the insight that human‐nature relations  are integrated to the extent that the delineation between social systems and ecological systems is artificial  and  arbitrary.  Applications  of  social‐ecological  resilience  thinking  has  evolved  over  time  with  different  influences  from  research  and  practice.

Studying  SES  from  a  complex  adaptive  system  perspective  has  become a fast growing interdisciplinary field which can be viewed as an attempt to integrate the theories and  methods  of  different  disciplines  into  a  new  body  of  knowledge  that  can  be  employed  to  study  and understand some of the most challenging problems today.

The  candidate  will  register  in  the  Department  of  Sociology  and  Social  Anthropology,  and  will  be  co‐supervised by a member of  this Department  (Dr Lloyd Hill) and  two members of  the Centre  for Complex  Systems in Transition (Prof. Reinette (Oonsie) Biggs and Dr Rika Preiser).  The three‐year PhD will be funded  by  the  South  African  Research  Chair  in  Social‐Ecological  Systems  and  Resilience,  based  at  the  Centre  for  Complex  Systems  in  Transition  (CST)  at  Stellenbosch University where  the  candidate  will  be  expected  to partake in relevant activities and seminars in both the Department and at CST.

The intention is for the PhD  to take an article based format.  Applicants  for  this  position  will  be  screened  in  terms  of  ‘minimum’  and  ‘recommended’  criteria.  The  minimum  requirement  is  a  master’s  degree  in  either  (1)  sociology  or  a  cognate  social  discipline (e.g. philosophy, history or social anthropology), or (2) ecology or a cognate natural science discipline associated  with  the  field  of  social‐ecological  systems  research  (e.g.  geography  or  sustainability  science).

The  recommended requirement for this position is a track record of prior research situated within one or both  of the following broad fields:

  • Social‐ecological  systems  research  (focusing on any  relevant  aspects,  including  complex adaptive  systems, resilience, ecosystem stewardship, natural resource governance, ecosystem services, etc)
  • Science  and  technology  studies  (broadly  defined  to  include  S&T research  in  philosophy,  history,  sociology and / or anthropology)

If  you  would  like  to  apply  for  this  position  or  find  out more  information,  please  email  Dr  Lloyd Hill:

The  initial deadline  for  submissions is  15  July,  but  if  the  position  is  not  filled applications  received after  this  date will also  be considered.

Candidates will  need  to  submit  both a curriculum vitae and a  brief concept  note or  research proposal  (2000 words). The concept note should succinctly summarize your background  experience and basic ideas for PhD research within the broad parameters outlined above.

For more information please refer to: Sociology-SARCHI PhD Call

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