PhD bursary for an ethnography of ecomedia in Kenya

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
December 31, 2022
Offerd Salary:Negotiation
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Contract Type:Other
Working Time:Negotigation
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PhD bursary for an ethnography of ecomedia in Kenya

(ref. BAP-2022-767)

Last modification : Tuesday, November 1, 2022

The Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at KU Leuven University is a vibrant community of 8 lecturers, 15 postdoctoral scholars, and 12 PhD students. Our research is clustered around three axes: “making”, “moving”, and “living”. We are inviting PhD candidates to join a European doctoral training network (MSCA-DN) that sits at the intersections of “making” and “living” in times of climate change. The vacancy is one of ten (10) PhD positions available in the doctoral network Anthropology of Global Climate Urgency (C-Urge), funded by the Horizon-MSCA DN- 2021 call. Within a short time, two (2) additional vacancies will be published. The C-Urge project will train 12 PhD candidates in Social/Cultural Anthropology who will be pioneering innovative and much-needed qualitative climate science. C-Urge scholars will attend to the notion of ‘urgency' itself, hence shedding light on people's sense of the entanglements of time, environmental change, and human risk, and their impact on people's climate change awareness. To that extent, C-Urge will generate new critical anthropological knowledge about global climate urgency that is academic, practical and policy-oriented with combined insights from the fields of human and economic geography, media studies, literature studies, digital humanities, international relations, environmental sciences (human geography, hydrology), STS (science, technology & society), and political sciences. Core research skills will be acquired by each doctoral candidate through the doctoral-level investigations of the task associated with his/her individual research project. Additional research skills will be delivered in the network-wide workshops, international conferences and training modules. Every doctoral candidate will undertake secondments in non-academic institutions of the consortium to develop their intersectoral and interdisciplinary skills. C-Urge is a consortium of 5 Principal Investigators (PIs) and 8 collaborating Investigators from 5 leading European universities: KU Leuven (Belgium, lead university), University of Edinburgh (UK), University of Halle-Wittenberg (Germany), Uppsala University (Sweden) and University of Catania (Italy) and one American university (Yale University). They team up with 6 non-academic partners in Belgium (CNDC-11.11.11, and the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences), Germany (Ferropolis GmbH), Sweden (Stockholm Environment Institute), the United Kingdom (Department of Social Responsibility and Sustainability of the University of Edinburgh), Sicily (Impact Hub Syracuse), and Mauritius (the Commission of the Indian Ocean in Mauritius), and 10 experts who are part of an interdisciplinary advisory board in order to ensure excellent training opportunities both in academia and outside of academia.

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Ecomedia in urban Kenya: plotting climate change and shaping climate action

Supervisor: Katrien Pype (anthropology, KU Leuven) ; Co-supervisor: Cajetan Iheka (international relations, Yale university)

AIM: to gain knowledge about how media practitioners in urban Kenya plot climate change

Objective 1: Document the various climate change narratives produced by social media influencers, radio and television broadcasters, and humanitarian and NGO media in urban Kenya;

Objective 2: Document the various climate change aesthetics in these local media texts, and arrive at an understanding of how urgency is produced by visual, acoustic, and digital means;

Objective 3: Document the various eco-technologies that these media profess as having consequences on the environment (ranging from being beneficial to the environment to being detrimental);

Objective 4: Analyse and compare how electronic and digital media shape urban Kenya's awareness of climate change and their actions.

Expected results: Detailed knowledge about media expertise, media aesthetics, and popular media as persuasive tools in climate change action in urban Kenya to be presented in a PhD thesis and in policy brief

Planned secondment: C.N.C.D.-11.11.11. - Brussels, Head of Advocacy - Climate Matters:

Supervisor: Nicolas Van Nuffel

Duration: 3 months

Aims: To gain experience in lobbying on a national and international level; to learn how to bring together stakeholders and interpret and translate their desires; to dialogue with national media; to learn how to transfer micro-cases to policy-oriented proposals; to gain familiarity with key social entrepreneurs in the Global South; to gain experience in teamwork in an intercultural environment ; to learn how to communicate towards different publics (policy groups; stakeholders);

The doctoral student will be enrolled in the PhD program at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at KU Leuven.

Job description:

As a PhD student, candidates are expected to:

- comply with the PhD requirements of that PhD program in Social and Cultural Anthropology at KU Leuven;

- move to Leuven (or its vicinity);

- carry out 9 months of ethnographic fieldwork;

- work for a duration of 3 months of non-academic secondment in the indicated organisation.

- commit to the basic premises of ethically sound research in anthropology and to the H2020 Program Guidelines on FAIR Data.

- carry out individual PhD research, but engage in team work in the field (with citizen scientists), and in the network.

- comply with deadlines, and participate in the various training activities the consortium is organizing.

- write a PhD dissertation.

- contribute to the various academic and non-academic outputs of the project (research communication and public outreach)


- Applicants do not yet have a PhD degree. Researchers who have finished a PhD degree and are not yet awarded their PhD title, are not eligible either.

- There is no nationality restriction, but applicants need to comply with the following mobility rule: they have not resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Belgium for more than 12 months in the 36 months immediately before their recruitment date (June 2023 latest), unless a part of a compulsory national service or a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention. (art. 6.2 of the Grant Agreement).

- Applicants have an MA degree in Anthropology or an adjacent social sciences discipline such as sociology, geography, or liberal arts..

- Apart from being proficient in English, applicants master one of the languages in the field of the PhD project (e.g. Swahili).

- Applicants have personal or professional experience and/or interest in Kenya.

- Candidates are ambitious, well organized, and have excellent communication skills.

- Candidates demonstrate commitment to high quality research and applied science.

Required documents in the application – to be submitted online by December 31 2022

- A cover letter (max 2 pages) stating interest in the project. In case the candidate does not have a MA degree in Anthropology, a few paragraphs need to be added in which experience in field research or familiarity with the topic and/or field (as an intern, volunteer, etc.) such as in the higher education sector, government, civil society or the private sector is described;

- CV (max. 3 pages);

- A copy of the MA degree (which will have to be validated if the candidate is shortlisted, or before appointment);

- A research proposal (max. 5 pages, including bibliography) for the subproject stating a research question, justification of the project, field site/s, methods, and calendar;

- Two names and affiliations of two referees who will be requested to write a letter of recommendation in case the candidate is shortlisted.

- A copy of the MA Thesis

A reasonable cross-section of Doctoral Candidates selected from different countries and regions is targeted overall for the whole project, provided there are sufficient qualified candidates. In case of equally qualified candidates, preference will be given to candidates from vulnerable groups.


The successful candidate will receive an attractive salary in accordance with the MSCA regulations for Recruited Researchers. The exact (net) salary will be confirmed upon appointment and is dependent on tax regulations and on the country correction factor (to allow for the difference in cost of living in different EU Member States). The salary includes a living allowance, a mobility allowance and a family allowance (if applicable). These allowances will be used to cover both the employee's as the employer's mandatory charges.

The guaranteed PhD funding is between 3 and 36 months (i.e. EC funding).

Interviews will be held in January 2023. The doctoral candidate is expected to start the project at KU Leuven in September/October 2023.


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Katrien Pype, tel.: +32 16 32 04 82, mail: or Mrs. Renée Overbeek, tel.: +32 16 32 83 15, mail:

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at

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