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Early stage researcher – Solidarity in diversity within youth work


The research will be carried out within the Laboratory for Education and Society (LES, KU Leuven). Societal issues are in LES explicitly understood as challenges that concern everyone and that highlight the specificity of an educational response. LES aims at mapping and articulating contemporary issues such as digitization, diversity and sustainability and aims to design concrete pedagogical practices within the fields of school, university, non-formal and family education. An academic secondment is planned at the Department of Geography at Durham University. Durham University is a centre for research and teaching excellence in the historic city of Durham, N.E England. Founded in 1928, the Department of Geography is one of the leading centres of geographical research in the world. The Department has a vibrant community of over a hundred postgraduates and aims to develop a range of high-level research, analytic, and communication skills that are transferable to multiple career paths.

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Scientific objectivesThe aim of this project is to analyze which characteristics determine pedagogical interventions that strengthen vocational education within youth work. We shift from an instrumental or labor market perspective on vocational education in schools to a socio-material approach to vocational education within youth work. The challenge of the research project is to explore, both empirically and conceptually, how youth work establishes a specific educational ecology, particularly for young people who struggle to connect to a regular school curriculum.This project at KU Leuven (LES) is part of a broader European Training network on promoting solidarities across ethnic-cultural boundaries. The focus of this network is on how the rise of national populism and far-right parties in Europe poses a big threat to all forms of solidarity, especially solidarity between members of various ethnic-cultural groups. European democracies should therefore identify the conditions that can encourage and promote solidarity in diversity, taking into account the social inequalities and unequal positions of power between various groups. The EU-funded SOLiDi project has developed a training and research program to train 15 PhD researchers in relevant theories, research methods and ethics in the fields of sociology, human geography and educational sciences. The training and research program will also focus on paradigms of social change, studying how scientific insights on solidarity in diversity can be applied in different policy contexts and organisations. Ultimately, the project will provide professionals and institutions with insights and instruments for building cohesive European societies. SOLiDi is a consortium consisting of 10 universities and 23 non-academic organisations.

Tasks and Responsibilities
  • You perform independently scientific research within a collaborative international research consortium
  • You deliver written reports of your research on a regular basis
  • You prepare a doctoral thesis on the topic of solidarity in diversity
  • You publish scientific articles related to the research project
  • You support the valorization of research results into tangible deliverables
  • You participate in, and contribute to, scientific meetings and conferences, presenting your research to the scientific community
  • You actively participate in outreach activities aimed at promoting your research to a wider audience
  • You collaborate with the other members of the consortium to advance your research and training
  • You participate in the tailor-made training programme
  • The selected candidate will take part in the following planned secondment: academic secondment to the University of Durham, Department of Geography (Prof. Dr. Jonathan Darling) (UK) and non-academic secondment in Youth Art Organisation Artforum (Urban Woorden)  and Formaat, Knowledge Centre of youth clubs (Belgium).



  • You hold a master degree in Master’s degree in Educational Sciences or in a related discipline (Social Sciences/Anthropology/Philosophy or Arts, History and Literature, Geography) whereby you have acquired (possibly in addition to your studies) demonstrable expertise in the field of education and youth work.
  • You obtained outstanding academic results.
  • You are interested in interdisciplinary, theory-oriented empirical research and have strong analytical skills.
  • You are a team player and are sensitive to diversity.
  • You have strong communication skills.
  • Language proficiency: you have a high level of proficiency in English, both spoken and written (C1 level minimum). A good oral and written command of Dutch is a merit.
  • Your academic qualities comply with the requirements stipulated in https://ppw.kuleuven.be/english/research/doctoral-programme/candidate-phd/conditions-admission.
  • Before starting the doctoral research and training, candidate PhD researchers first need to apply for admission to the Faculty’s doctoral programme, see: https://ppw.kuleuven.be/english/research/doctoral-programme/candidate-phd/admissionPhD.
  • Applicants can be of any nationality, but have to comply with the “H2020 MSCA Mobility Rule »: researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of the host organisation for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the recruitment date. Compulsory national service, short stays such as holidays, and time spent as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention are not taken into account.
  • H2020 MSCA ESR eligibility criteria: Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) must be, at the date of recruitment by the host organisation, in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of their research careers and have not been awarded a doctoral degree. Full-Time Equivalent Research Experience is measured from the date when the researcher obtained the degree entitling him/her to embark on a doctorate (either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country in which the researcher is recruited, even if a doctorate was never started or envisaged).
  • Candidates may apply for up to three ESR positions in the SOLiDi project, but should mention explicitly the other ESR positions for which they apply in their personal statement.



  • The selected candidate will be employed by the host organisation. The guaranteed PhD funding is for 36 months (i.e. EC funding). The host institution, in line with the national and university regulation about regular PhD duration, may provide additional funding for a maximum of 12 months in order to complete a doctoral degree.
  • A competitive salary, plus mobility and if applicable: family allowances. Moreover, funding is available for technical and personal skills training and participation in international research events.
  • The selected candidate will benefit from the designed training programme offered by the host organisation and the SOLiDi consortium.
  • The selected candidate will participate in international secondments to other organisations within the SOLiDi network and in outreach activities targeted at a wide audience.
Please, find additional information in the Information note for Marie Skłodowska-Curie ITN fellows



Please provide:
  • a CV, including your skills and educational and career trajectory and your place of residence and place of main activities (work, studies, etc.) in 3 preceding years (max. 3 pages, font 11 or higher)
  • a personal statement, explaining your motivation (up to 2 pages, font 11 or higher)
  •  building on the project description (https://www.uantwerpen.be/en/projects/solidi/research/) write a one page outline of the research questions, approach and research design of your PhD project.
  •  the name and contact details of two referees who can comment on your skills, experience, and suitability for postgraduate research (referees will only be contacted for candidates invited to interview)
After the deadline for applications, the project supervisor and co-supervisor will draft a shortlist of 5 to 8 candidates. This shortlist will be discussed by representatives of all SOLiDi academic partner institutions. The shortlisted candidates will then be invited for interview. The ranked candidates will be discussed by representatives of all SOLiDi academic partner institutions, who will assess the gender and geographical balance of the selected candidates and the balance in disciplinary backgrounds across the network. Successful candidates will be notified by the end of May 2021.

For more information please contact:

Prof. dr. Joke Vandenabeele (supervisor), tel.: +32 16 32 57 62, mail: joke.vandenabeele@kuleuven.be
Prof. dr. Jonathan Darling (co-supervisor), mail: jonathan.m.darling@durham.ac.uk

You can apply for this job no later than March 24, 2021 via the online application tool