[Air-L] postdoc in Copenhagen -- IT and climate change

Ilana Gershon imgershon at gmail.com
Sat Apr 22 06:41:04 PDT 2023

PhD/Postdoc call DecouplingIT

/The IT University of Copenhagen invites highly motivated individuals to 
apply for 2 fully funded PhD/postdoctoral positions starting 1 September 
2023 or soon thereafter. PhD stipends are of a 3-year duration, whereas 
a postdoctoral position will be for 2 years./

We invite applicants who want to contribute to the IT University’s 
vision of creating and sharing knowledge that is profound and leads to 
groundbreaking information technology and services for the benefit of 
humanity; and to contribute to the Business IT Department's research 

The applicants are expected to have a solid background in qualitative 
social science such as anthropology, science and technology studies 
(STS), geography, sociology or other relevant disciplines. Experience 
with ethnographic fieldwork is a prerequisite.

The selected candidates will be part ofthe Technologies in Practice 
(TiP) research group, and employed in the ITUʼs Dept. of BusinessIT. 
There they will work as part of the research project DecouplingIT funded 
by a Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council.

The DecouplingIT project consists of a committed team of researchers 
working to ethnographically explore how (economic) growth is decoupled 
from climate impacts within various IT enterprises around the world. The 
project approaches this by exploring the practicesof IT enterprises 
andprofessionals who articulate climate change as a problem in need of 
IT-generated innovations, and inparticular how they practically deploy 
IT with the climate in mind. Theoretically, the project willexplore how 
sociocultural change is generated in the spaces between IT, climate 
change andcapitalism.

*Job description*
The DecouplingIT works with pre-defined regions where the studies must 
take place.

The two PhDs/postdocs are expected to conduct independent ethnographic 
studies in either a European or an African climate/tech hub. That is, in 
ethnographic sites where climate and IT are in some form of interesting 
and/or problematic relationship.The ethnographic focus should be centred 
on how the climate becomes an object of attention and/or value within 
the world of IT organizations – broadly conceived as software developers 
or engineers, IT entrepreneurs, and so on. As an industry, IT is tasked 
with both reducing its own climate impacts while generating and 
facilitating ‘solutions’ for other industries. As such, the conjunction 
of climate and IT should be the central focus of the research proposal. 
The purpose of these sub-projects is tocontribute to anunderstanding of 
how IT organizations and IT professionals in European or African 
countries mediate the complex set of relationships that arise at the 
nexus of climate and environmental concerns, narratives of 
entrepreneurial agency, and aspirations towards decoupled growth.

Possible examples include studying relations to environmental impacts 
and energy use within the Icelandic data and cryptocurrency industries 
fuelled by the extraction of cheap fossil free energy, or working in the 
Kenyan tech eco-system nick-named Silicon Savannah, which is an East 
African hub for innovation in IT solutions and digital entrepreneurship. 
An Icelandic case could addressthe conflicts and ambiguities produced 
within the Icelandic data and cryptocurrency industries as they grow 
their operations and extract value from digital landscapes through the 
extraction of cheap fossil free energy from Icelandic geothermal 
landscapes.A Kenyan case could focus on IT-based responses to local 
climate effects such as the drilling of ‘digital wells’ as a solution to 
water scarcity from frequent droughts, or the recent use of Internet of 
Things (IoT) concepts to reduce emissions and support circular economy 
approaches in handling different types of waste collection and 
management in Nairobi. The study could favourably be anchored in local 
incubator institutions, which are hailed as successful by development 
donors in driving local technological solutions to climate change, and 
in this way also approach how Kenya in relation to climate mitigation is 
implicated in a variety of North-South relationships.

As part of the application, the applicant must provide a brief (max 3 
pages) research proposal indicating where they will do fieldwork, how 
they will do so, and how the site chosen can address the overall theme 
of decoupling. This proposal should present the specific literature the 
applicant is using to ground their project as well as how they imagine 
their study can be carried out and concretized with due attention to its 
analytical framework, methodology, language barriers, ethics, etc.

The successful candidates are expected to conduct independent 
ethnographic subprojects, while at the same time contributing to the 
general project’s overall purpose and aims. They must work within the 
practice- and process-oriented social science framework presented by the 
project while considering a series of cross-project research questions:

  * how do actors within the IT sector think about their work in light
    of the climate crisis?
  * how do these actors perceive or value ‘the climate’ or ‘the
    environment within their daily routines and practices?
  * what role does growth play in such work, and how (if at all) is it
    articulated as an overarching value?

The core assessment criteria are the coherence and plausibility of the 
proposal’s key ideas, assumptions, and approach, how well the candidate 
demonstrates methodological, analytical, and theoretical capability, and 
how well the candidate is qualified to carry out the study they propose.

Candidates are welcome to take inspiration from the above to develop 
alternative subproject ideas under the overall academic approach and 
within the regions specified by the DecouplingIT project.

*About the department/BIT*
Business IT is organized in three interdisciplinary research groups 
Technologies in Practice, Information Systems and Digital Innovation and 
REFLACT. The groups share an interest in the socio-technical fabric of 
digitalization and digital transformation and comprise more than 30 
assistant, associate and full professors. Research at Business IT 
provides basis for reflecting on how digital technologies may be used 
mindfully and beneficially in the private and public sector. Business IT 
offers a BSc inGlobal BusinessInformatics, aMSc in Digital Innovation & 
Management, and a professional part-time masterprogramme in IT 
management. It hosts three research centers Center for Digital Welfare, 
Center for Climate IT and European Blockchain Centerin addition to two 
academic labs ETHOS lab and BUILD lab

*General information*
The IT University of Copenhagen (ITU) is a teaching and research-based 
tertiary institution concerned with information technology (IT) and the 
opportunities it offers. The IT University has more than 160 full-time 
Faculty members. Research and teaching in information technology span 
all academic activities which involve computers including computer 
science, information and media sciences, humanities and social sciences, 
business impact and the commercialization of IT.

The TiP research group is an internationally leading hub for 
ethnographically oriented STS-research. The group currently houses 16 
research faculty, 3 postdocs and 9 PhD students. The members of 
contribute to 3 interdisciplinary degree programmes at the ITU – BSc in 
Global Business Informatics, MSc in Digital Innovation Management and a 
professional masters in IT Leadership.

*Qualification Requirements*
The following qualifications are required:

  * PhD candidates must hold a two-year MA/MSc-degree (or equivalent) in
    a discipline such as those mentioned above.
  * Postdoctoral candidates must hold a PhD degree (or equivalent) in a
    discipline such as those mentioned above.
  * Documented competence with qualitative social science methods
    (preferably ethnographic).
  * Fluency in academic English.

Highly Desired Qualifications:

  * Familiarity with practice- and process-oriented social science
    theories and analysis
  * Familiarity with social science discussions on climate change.
  * Familiarity with social science studies of digital technologies and
    the IT-sector.
  * Familiarity with regional literature pertaining to the fieldsite
    they wish to study.
  * Familiarity with the language(s) spoken at the fieldsite they wish
    to study.

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