Overline: Kennziffer 9279
Headline: Postdoc (f_m_x) Planetary Geopolitics and Geoengineering

The Research Institute for Sustainability (RIFS) conducts research with the aim of investigating, identifying, and advancing development pathways for transformation processes towards sustainability in Germany and abroad. The institute was founded in 2009 as the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) and has been affiliated with the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences under its new name since the 1st of January 2023 and is thus part of the Helmholtz Association.

For our research group Planetary Geopolitics and Geoengineering, we are looking for a: 

Postdoc (f_m_x) Planetary Geopolitics and Geoengineering

Reference Number 9279

How do “planetary” interventions reorder collective life? How do prevailing political structures and sensibilities shape technoscientific conceptions of the “planet,” and of what it means to “do something” about it? The “Planetary Geopolitics and Geoengineering” research group focuses on modes of knowledge and action that constitute a distinctively “planetary” geopolitics and analyzes the challenges they pose to familiar categories of modern reason: representation and intervention, necessity and contingency, action and inaction, certainty and indeterminacy. The group uses ethnographic and historical research methods and draws on work in science and technology studies, cultural anthropology, ordinary language philosophy, political economy, and political theory to characterize how forms of collective life are taking shape – and coming apart – with the ascent of the “planetary” in science, politics, and society. Embedded within the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences and the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, the group offers a unique working environment for researchers in the humanities and humanistic social sciences interested in the political study of contemporary science and technology.

Your responsibilities:

  • Conduct cutting-edge research relevant to the group’s conceptual and topical orientation and publish results in leading peer-reviewed journals
  • Participate in the acquisition of third-party funding, including the possibility of leading your own proposals as Principal Investigator
  • Conceptualize, organize, and actively participate in the group’s regular activities, including weekly work-in-progress meetings and occasional field trips, site visits, workshops, conferences, and visits by external guests (with support from administrative staff and student assistants)
  • Support the group leader in managing the group's budget
  • Guide student assistants in their work
  • Connect with colleagues at RIFS and GFZ, for example in the weekly RIFS Tuesday Talk series or in events of interest at GFZ

Your qualifications:

  • Master`s degree (or equivalent) and PhD either in the humanities or social sciences or, if PhD is in another field, significant research experience in the humanities or social sciences
  • Regional and thematic foci are open
  • Strong knowledge of theoretical frameworks and approaches in the interpretive social sciences and humanities
  • Experience with ethnographic and/or archival research methods
  • Very good academic writing skills
  • Very good English language skills

What we offer:

  • Weekly work-in-progress meetings for peer support
  • Budget for travel, events, etc., as approved collectively for the group on an annual basis by the institute leadership
  • Direct access to Germany’s leading geoscientific research institute, the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, and to other institutes of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, such as the Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI, Potsdam) and the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research (GEOMAR, Kiel), for example to conduct interviews, archival research, and/or participant observation
  • Public service benefits
  • Extensive training opportunities
  • Flexible working hours and conditions
  • Support with finding a good work-life balance offered by benefit@work
  • Workplace at the RIFS campus, Helmholtzstr. 5 in Potsdam with good public transport connections to Berlin

Start date: As soon as possible
Fixed-term: 2 years (with possibility of extension)
Salary: The position is classed as salary group 13 according to “TVöD Bund (Tarifgebiet Ost)”. The salary group is determined on the basis of the Collective Wage Agreement and the respective personal qualifications.
Working hours: Full-time (currently 39 h/week); The position is generally suitable for part-time work.
Place of work: Potsdam

Are you interested?

We look forward to receiving your application including a letter of motivation, your CV, and a writing sample by 21st July 2024
Please use our online application form only.
We may request letters of recommendation from candidates who advance to the interview stage.


Diversity and equal opportunities are integral components of our human resources policy. The RIFS actively promotes diversity and explicitly welcomes applications from all qualified individuals, regardless of ethnic and social origin, nationality, gender, sexual orientation and identity, religion/belief, age and physical characteristics. Anyone who has been recognized as severely disabled, will be given preferential consideration in the event of equal suitability and qualification in accordance with the provisions of the German Social Code IX.

Your personal data will be processed for the purpose of conducting the selection procedure on the basis of Art. 6 para. 1 b, Art. 88 GDPR in conjunction with Art. 26 of the Data Protection Act for the State of Brandenburg. After completion of the procedure, application documents will be deleted in compliance with data protection regulations. The selection process will involve a committee including an external advisor who will receive the applications. Your personal data will, of course, be treated confidentially and will be communicated to the involved person exclusively for the purpose of evaluating your professional suitability within the framework of this selection procedure. Once the procedure has been completed, the personal data will also be deleted there in compliance with data protection regulations.

In case of any further queries relating to the field of activity, please contact Dr. Stefan Schäfer via email at stefan [dot] schaefer [at] rifs-potsdam [dot] de (stefan[dot]schaefer[at]rifs-potsdam[dot]de).  If you have any general questions about the application process, please contact our recruiting team at our phone number +49 (0) 331-6264-28787.

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