PhD position: Environmental storytelling in hybrid environments – designing, developing and implementing a climate distress intervention

University of Twente
April 30, 2024
Offerd Salary:€ 2.770
Working address:N/A
Contract Type:Other
Working Time:Full time
Working type:N/A
Ref info:N/A

Climate change causes especially young people globally to experience emotional distress, which has numerous consequences at the individual and societal levels. There is a pressing need to design effective interventions tailored for this population, recognizing the complexity of climate distress (combination of adverse climate change emotions such as anxiety, sadness, anger, and frustration). Since young adults live in an interlinked ecosystem of the digital and physical world, this calls for the development of a holistic and multi-sided intervention.

The challenge In this project, the aim is to develop a hybrid storytelling intervention that alleviates young adults' climate distress. The intervention would do this by helping young adults build their narrative identity , a narrative sense of oneself created with storytelling, which also includes climate agency , a sense of being able and willing to navigate the climate crisis. Identification with characters and transportation into alternative worlds as well as the use of self-reflective writing, inspired by different triggers such as a VR experience, open up possibilities for developing narrative identity and climate agency.

The research question is “ How can a hybrid storytelling intervention alleviate climate distress in young adults? ”.

This PhD project has the following main aims:

1. To understand young adults' ideas and needs for alleviating their climate distress. Subsequently, these ideas are put to use in testing various trigger materials and environments that are meant to enhance the participants' narrative identity through reflective writing. 2. To collect participant experiences from various activities. The participants engage in individual audio journalling and social audio reflection through the Wisper app , created by the GEMH lab. In addition, the participants experience various future environmental scenarios in a VR environment (e.g. a hopeful one where actions solve a specific problem, a dystopian one where human action fails, etc.). 3. To develop a hybrid storytelling group intervention where the participants encounter environmental storytelling triggers and discuss their experiences in a facilitated group. 4. To quantitatively test the effectiveness of the intervention and to qualitatively understand and describe its potential.

This project also aims to produce guidelines for people interested in facilitating storytelling groups for climate-distressed young adults. In this project, you will collect and analyze both quantitative (statistical data collected with e.g. surveys) and qualitative (the reflective writing exercises) data and integrate them into mixed-method publications.

The key tasks of the PhD candidate include:

  • Setting up experiments

  • Doing statistical analysis

  • Doing qualitative/narrative analysis

  • Working together with the BMS Lab

  • Your profile
  • MSc degree in psychology or a related discipline (also candidates close to graduating are encouraged to apply)
  • Strong interests in and affinities for 1) climate psychology, 2) mixed methods research, including experience in at least statistical or qualitative data analysis, and 3) digital environments such as Virtual Reality
  • Demonstrably good (scientific) writing skills
  • English conversation, writing, and presentation skills. Command of the Dutch language or willingness to learn Dutch is considered an advantage
  • Communication and social skills related to working in interdisciplinary environments
  • A good team spirit, liking to work in an interdisciplinary and international environment
  • Our offer
  • A full-time 4-year PhD position with a qualifier in the first year
  • Gross monthly salary of € 2.770,- in the first year to € 3.539,- in the fourth year
  • Excellent benefits including a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary, an end-of-year bonus of 8,3%, a solid pension scheme, and health care benefits
  • 29 holidays per year in case of full-time employment
  • Excellent mentorship in a stimulating research environment with excellent facilities
  • A personal development program within the Twente Graduate School. You will have a training program as part of the Twente Graduate School where you and your supervisors will determine a plan for a suitable education and supervision
  • A green campus with free access to sports facilities and an international scientific community
  • A family-friendly institution that offers parental leave (both paid and unpaid)
  • Information and application

    Are you interested to be part of our team? Please submit your application via the ‘Apply now' button below before April 30, 2024 and include:

  • A cover letter (maximum 2 pages A4), emphasizing your specific interest, qualifications, and motivations to apply for this position, including 2 references;
  • A cv, including a list of all courses attended and grades obtained, and, if applicable, a list of publications and references;
  • For more information regarding this position, you are welcome to contact Prof. Gerben Westerhof ([email protected]).

    About the department

    At the Department of Technology, Human and Institutional Behaviour (HIB), we are specialists in the science of behaviour change and the interplay between human behaviour and technology. Why do we behave the way we do, and how does our behaviour change? Why is it that some people can successfully adapt their diet or lifestyle, and others seem unable to? What drives behavioural changes among people and groups? How can our governments help us to behave in ways that are healthy, sustainable, and inclusive, or that will make our countries, societies and cities a safer place to live? What role can technologies play – from virtual reality or artificial intelligence to human-media interaction and value-based design – in influencing our behaviour for the better? And, conversely, what does our behaviour tell us about how these new technologies should be developed? These are some of the key questions we deal with as researchers, educators and societal problem solvers at the HIB department.

    About the organisation

    The Faculty of Behavioral, Management and Social sciences (BMS) aims to play a key role in understanding, jointly developing and evaluating innovations in society. Technological developments are the engine of innovation. As a technical university that puts people first, we tailor them to human needs and behavior and use social engineering to integrate them into society. We also ensure adequate governance at public and private level, and robust, inclusive and fair organizational structures. We do this by developing, sharing and applying high-quality knowledge in Psychology, Business Administration, Public Administration, Communication Sciences, Philosophy, Educational Sciences and Health Sciences. Our research and education in these disciplines revolves around tackling and solving societal challenges. The research programs of BMS are closely linked to the research of the UT institutes Mesa+ Institute for Nanotechnology, TechMed Center and Digital Society Institute.

    As an employer, the Faculty of BMS offers work that matters. We equip you to create new possibilities for yourself and for our society. With us, you will become part of a leading technical university with increasing, positive social impact. We offer an open, inclusive and entrepreneurial atmosphere, in which we encourage you to make healthy choices, for example through our flexible, adaptable benefits.

    Want to know more? Westerhof, G.J. (Gerben)

    Department Chair Psychology, Health, and Technology

    Westerhof, G.J. (Gerben)

    Department Chair Psychology, Health, and Technology

    Do you have questions about this vacancy? Then you can contact Gerben for all substantive questions about this position and the application procedure. For general questions about working for the UT, please refer to the chatbot.



    Email:[email protected]

    How to apply Step 1

    Apply. When you see a vacancy that appeals to you, you can apply online. We ask you to upload a CV and motivation letter and/or list of publications. You will receive a confirmation of receipt by e-mail.

    Step 2

    Selection. The selection committee will review your application and you will receive a response within 2 weeks after the vacancy has been closed.

    Step 3

    1st interview. The 1st (online or in person) meeting serves as an introduction where we introduce ourselves to you and you to us. You may be asked to give a short presentation. This will be further explained in the invitation.

    Step 4

    2nd interview. In the second interview, we will further discuss the job content, your skills and your talents.

    Step 5

    The offer. If the conversations are positive, you will be made a suitable offer.

    Your Colleagues
  • Dekkers, T. (Tessa)
  • Personal page

  • Asgarinia, H. (Haleh)
  • Personal page

  • Stout, J.H. (Jaap)
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  • At the UT it's all about people, in line with our university's High Tech Human Touch philosophy. In everything we do, the well-being and future of our students and staff are paramount. From research and teaching to personnel management, campus management and the use of new technologies.

  • Our mission We are a university of technology
  • Our university is a public institution that serves society. We are accountable to society for the ways in which we use our academic freedom. We are responsible for ensuring that the power of science and technology is harnessed to achieve the best possible impact in a changing world. We cherish our rich tradition of combining technical and social sciences in our five profiling themes: Improving healthcare by personalized technologies; Creating intelligent manufacturing systems; Shaping our world with smart materials; Engineering our digital society; and Engineering for a resilient world.

  • Our mission We help to strengthen society
  • We help society meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. But we are also transparent about what science and technology can and cannot do in finding sustainable solutions. And help translate these solutions into everyday life.

  • Our mission We are sustainable
  • We want our communities to flourish and show resilience, so we seize opportunities for innovation. We are knowledgeable and have an eye for what society needs. Our students and staff receive all the guidance they need in their quest for ecological, social and economic sustainability. “The University of Twente is all about people. Our sustainable technologies help to strengthen society.”

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