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Postdoctoral Fellows in Social-Ecological Modelling

Project description

SRC’s GRAID program (Guidance for Resilience in the Anthropocene: Investments for Development) is a long-term collaboration to build on SRC research in the theory and practice of resilience for development. GRAID will generate knowledge and synthesize insights on resilience thinking, and approaches for assessing and building resilience in the context of development. GRAID is funded by Sida and has been developed as a strategic knowledge partner to the Global Resilience Partnership (GRP), which is convened by The Rockefeller Foundation, USAID and Sida.

The MuSES project (Towards middle-range theory of the co-evolutionary dynamics of multi-level SES) is an interdisciplinary five year project aiming to build understanding of the co-evolutionary dynamics of social-ecological systems (SES), with a particular focus on cross-scale interactions. It combines theoretical and empirically-based modelling approaches to investigate how micro-level interactions between humans and the biosphere give rise to observed macro-level phenomena such as a resource collapse and to identify critical social-ecological mechanisms for sustainable aquatic and terrestrial food production systems. The project is funded by an ERC consolidator grant to Dr. Maja Schlüter.

Main responsibilities

The work will advance theoretical and methodological research on the dynamics of social-ecological systems (SES). Theoretical work will involve the development of stylized dynamical models to investigate interactions and feedbacks that underly observed social-ecological phenomena, such as poverty traps or resource collapses. The stylized models are intended to support the development and testing of hypotheses about human-environment relationships that determine SES outcomes and enhance understanding of general patterns and causal mechanisms. They will be based upon and compared against general patterns observed in real-world settings.

One focus, associated with the GRAID program, will be on using stylised models to explore how resilience thinking can contribute to understanding of poverty traps and design of alleviation strategies. Poverty traps are situations in which self-reinforcing mechanisms maintain poverty. Contributions of resilience thinking could include a focus on biophysical foundations of poverty, and its diverse conceptualisations of social-ecological system change (regime shifts, transformations, etc.). Theoretical work will involve the further development of existing in-house stylised poverty trap models of interactions among multiple dimensions of poverty, and investigating the consequences of different alleviation strategies in these models. The results of the investigations will be synthesised to develop guidelines for selection of appropriate poverty alleviation strategies. The researcher will also engage with development policy-makers and/or practitioners to develop and communicate these outputs.

Another focus, associated with the MuSES project, will be on the implications of cross-scale interactions such as globalization, human migration, large-scale moisture flows or international donor involvement and increasing connectivity for sustainable natural resource management. Recent empirical research has for instance shown that the connection of small-scale fisheries to global markets can lead to both resource collapse or sustainable fisheries. Work on this topic will include using stylized models to test empirical assumptions about factors and mechanisms that may explain different outcomes and develop an understanding of the conditions under which cross-scale connectivity enables transformations towards more sustainable resource use and when not. Methodological work will involve enhancing methods for the analysis of the dynamics of SES, particularly the development of multi-level modeling frameworks for analysing cross-scale interactions that take human responses into account. This theoretical research is embedded in a larger project which includes the development of several case-based models of fisheries and agricultural food production.

The research questions and types of settings to be explored will be selected in close collaboration with empirical researchers to allow for an iterative process of identification and testing of causal mechanisms through modeling and field studies. The researcher is thus expected to closely collaborate in interdisciplinary settings with other researchers at SRC and in the GRAID and MuSES teams. She/he will lead model development and research to generate, synthesise and communicate insights and perspectives on poverty traps or cross-scale social-ecological dynamics, as well as governance and development of SES in rural contexts. The position will focus either on poverty traps or cross-scale interactions in natural resource management depending on the interests of the candidate.

Qualification requirements

Postdoctoral positions are appointed primarily for purposes of research. Applicants are expected to hold a Swedish doctoral degree or an equivalent degree from another country.

Assessment criteria

The degree should have been completed no more than three years before the deadline for applications. (THIS REQUIREMENT MAY BE FLEXIBLE, ESPECIALLY FOR THE MuSES POSITION.) An older degree may be acceptable under special circumstances, which may involve sick leave, parental leave, clinical attachment, elected positions in trade unions, or similar.

  • Knowledge of and experience in using basic methods of nonlinear dynamics is essential (e.g. constructing ODE models from qualitative system descriptions, analyzing phase space, bifurcation analysis, etc.). Experience with other complex systems methods (e.g. agent-based modelling, system dynamics, evolutionary approaches, etc.) is desirable.
  • Ability to work in highly interdisciplinary settings is essential, including integrating knowledge from multiple disciplines and delivering insights relevant for those fields. Experience constructing stylized mathematical models in these settings is desirable.
  • Familiarity with concepts and issues in resilience thinking, sustainable development and small-scale agriculture or fisheries is desirable.

In the appointment process, special attention will be given to:

  • Proven mathematical and model analysis skills.
  • Interdisciplinary knowledge and expertise in any of the areas of social-ecological systems, complex systems, economics, ecology, ecosystem services, human wellbeing, poverty alleviation.
  • Proven ability to lead a modelling project that involves participants from other disciplines.
  • Proven ability in synthesizing knowledge from experts in other fields.
  • Proven ability in leading scientific publications.
  • Excellent ability to express yourself in spoken and written English.
  • Track record of presentations to scientific and other audiences.
  • Excellent collaborative, process facilitation and design, and interpersonal skills.


CountrySweden
LabStockholm
Starts on01/02/2017
Duration/Period2 years, possible extension
Deadline07/12/2016 0:00
Linkhttp://www.su.se/english/about/vacancies/vacancies-new-list?rmpage=job&rmjob=2256&rmlang=UK
Keywordsresilience; modelling; social-ecological systems; poverty traps;

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