Doctoral candidate (f/m/d)

Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenforschung GmbH (ZMT), Bremen

The Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (www.leibniz-zmt.de) in Bremen is a member of the Leibniz Association, which is supported by the German Federal and State Governments. Through its research, ZMT contributes to developing science-based strategies for sustainable use of tropical coastal systems.

The Working Group ‘Deliberation, Valuation & Sustainability’ at ZMT has a vacancy for a

Doctoral candidate (f/m/d)

(Reference number: 128 - DVS)

to start in January 2020 with a focus on perceptions, power relationships, and the decision support process.

Description of the project: The SÖF BMBF-funded Junior Research Group project “Transdisciplinary Science for Sustainable Tourism” (TransTourism) explores interconnections between the global tourism economy and local social-ecological challenges in small-scale tourism destinations along tropical coasts, with a focus on tourism-generated wastewater pollution.

Tourism-generated wastewater is a near-invisible problem that can threaten livelihoods, human health, and the health of ecosystems. Often the effects of wastewater on the environment are subtle and difficult to connect with the experiences and priorities of people. Further, wastewater generation yields both benefits (economic, from tourism) and costs, and these costs and benefits are spread unequally through a given community. Understanding how people view this complex system, and how perceptions, priorities, and behavior are affected by power relationships is critical to finding feasible and acceptable solutions.

Your PhD project will identify the perceptions and priorities of people with regards to wastewater management in small tourism communities, and investigate how these factors link to perception of the feasibility and acceptability of potential management solutions. In three sites along tropical coasts (Tanzania, Indonesia, and a third TBD site) you will map stakeholder and decision-maker perceptions of the social-ecological system, along with social and power relationships, using tools such as mental modeling (also known as cognitive mapping), and social influence network mapping. Afterwards, you will participate in stakeholder workshops and focus groups with decision makers (on priorities and potential wastewater management solutions), and integrate information from these activities as well as from other team members’ parallel projects to understand how perceptions and power relationships interact and influence the decision support process.

Your project is both inter- and transdisciplinary, and you will develop the research in collaboration with local stakeholders. In order to build relationships with project partners in partner countries, extended field stays are required. As such, you must be able to travel frequently and live in the tropics for up to five months at a time. The 4.5 year funding period for the PhD project (compared to the usual 3) aims to ensure time for transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary project integration.


  • Develop and implement an individualized PhD research agenda in close interaction with Dr. Marie Fujitani and the DVS working group at ZMT
  • Collect mental models describing local stakeholder and decision maker perceptions of wastewater and the social-ecological system, and map power relationships at three coastal tropical field sites
  • Explore the interplay between perceptions and power relationships, and how they both interact with the decision-making process
  • Participate in stakeholder workshops and focus groups with decision makers, and investigate the influence of perceptions and power relationships on interactions and outcomes
  • Publish research results in international peer-reviewed/scientific journals
  • Cooperate closely with the other team members of TransTourism and contribute to the successful implementation of the project


  • An excellent Master’s degree with a focus on social science and natural resource use (e.g., sustainability, geography, political science, economics)
  • Background in qualitative and quantitative social science methods (can have a focus in either)
  • Experience with network analysis methods, or willingness to learn
  • Desire to do interdisciplinary work, and collaborate closely with both natural and social scientists
  • Experience conducting interviews
  • Experience engaging with non-academic stakeholders, and conducting workshops or focus groups
  • Effective interpersonal communication skills and the ability to work well in a team
  • Ability to work independently, with a result-oriented self-reliant work mode, with initiative and willingness to take on unexpected tasks
  • Advanced written and oral communication skills in English, demonstrated scientific writing skills
  • Flexibility to travel internationally, and spend extended time at tropical field sites
  • Experience working abroad in difficult field conditions is preferred
  • Local language skills (Bahasa Indonesia, Kiswahili) are a plus

For additional information please contact: Dr. Marie Fujitani (marie.fujitani(at)leibniz-zmt.de).

Details of the position:

  • The candidate will be on a 54-month contract
  • Salary will be paid according to the German TV-L EG 13
  • The post will be filled as a PhD Student position (66,6%)
  • ZMT is an equal opportunity employer
  • Applicants with a migration background are welcome
  • Disabled persons with comparable qualification receive preferential status

We offer:

  • An exciting working environment in an interdisciplinary and internationally oriented institute and research project
  • Possibilities to build and extend an international professional network and participate in a research field of high public and scientific interest
  • A family-friendly working environment

Submission of application:

Please send your application including: 1) a cover letter , 2) a copy of the master's (Diplom) and bachelor’s certificates including grades and number of credit points, 3) a complete CV with a list of publications and skills, and the names, titles, relationships (e.g. thesis advisor), email addresses, and telephone numbers of two referees, 4) a sample chapter or published paper, and 5) a brief proposal of no more than two pages (references not in page limit) outlining ideas for a PhD research agenda based on your experience and interest, within the frame of the description above, by November 15, 2019 as a single pdf file with the reference number “128 – DVS” to Mrs. Lena Oehlmann, email: bewerbung(at)leibniz-zmt.de.

Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research, Fahrenheitstraße 6, D-28359 Bremen