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PhD Position in the field of climate change, security and conflicts

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The climate needs bright minds. The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) addresses crucial scientific questions in the fields of global change, climate impacts and sustainable development. It is one of the world's leading research institutions in its field and offers natural and social scientists from around the world an inspiring environment for excellent interdisciplinary research.

For the project “Towards a Global Climate Risk and Foresight Assessment”, PIK is offering a

PhD Position (m/f/d)

 (Position number: 20-2020-PhD Position)

in the field of climate change, security and conflicts; starting on 15.06.2020.

The position is funded for 30.04.2023. Remuneration is in accordance with the German public tariff scheme (TV-L Brandenburg), salary group E 13. This is a part-time position with a working time of 26 hours per week.

Climate change affects human lives and livelihoods around the world, and puts mounting strains on economies, infrastructure, and institutions. Evidence shows that conflicts can, under certain circumstances, become more likely and/or more severe due to the effects of climate change. There are also indications that political or social stability could be undermined by climate change impacts. However, a systematic understanding of the different channels and outcomes of climate change effects on human security, peace, and conflict is still lacking, and it is largely unknown what the related risks will be in the future given continued global warming. This PhD project will contribute to filling this research gap. Using approaches from machine learning, econometrics, and/or geospatial analysis, the successful candidate will address research questions related to i) the relative importance of climatic events for conflict emergence, ii) channels of the climatic impacts on conflict emergence, iii) future conflict hotspots under the changing climate.

The successful candidate will become part of PIK’s FutureLab “Security, Ethnic Conflicts and Migration”.

Key responsibilities:

  • conduct research on the effects of climate change on human security, violent conflict, and political/societal stability
  • write and publish articles in peer-reviewed journals that highlight findings from the research project, and present research findings at conferences and workshops.
  • take part in the interaction with scientific partners and stakeholders within the project
  • write and submit dissertation


  • a Master’s degree in Economics, Public Policy, Physics, Environmental Sciences, Mathematics, or a related field
  • strong analytical and writing skills
  • programming skills e.g. in Python, R or a similar language; knowledge of econometric methods and working in Stata; and/or knowledge of geospatial analysis tools 

We expect:

  • the ability to work independently and on your own initiative
  • a methodical and systematic approach
  • structured and goal-oriented thinking
  • capacity to familiarise yourself quickly with new topics
  • creativity and openness to new approaches
  • a high level of competence in oral and written English
  • reliability, the ability to cope with stress, and a high level of motivation
  • willingness to travel for work (project meetings, workshops etc.) and take part in further training
  • capacity for teamwork
  • organisational talent

We offer:

  • the chance to be part of a creative, interdisciplinary team
  • a stimulating working environment in an internationally recognised research institute on Potsdam's beautiful, historic Telegrafenberg campus, a short commuting distance from Berlin
  • a collective pay scheme and associated benefits

PIK seeks to increase the share of women in scientific positions and therefore explicitly encourages women to apply. In cases of equal qualification and within the given legal scope, women will be given preference. Applications by persons with a migration background are expressly encouraged. Applications of disabled persons with equal qualifications will be regarded favourably. PIK also encourages applications by parents returning from parental leave.

Please apply by 31.05.2020 directly using our application form.

For further information or to discuss the position please contact Dr. Jacob Schewe, .

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