Tenure track position “Geospatial analysis of access to urban amenities” at Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Tenure track position “Geospatial analysis of access to urban amenities” at Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Application deadline: 30 May 2020

Recruitment is a tenure track appointment which implies an initial appointment as lecturer for a period of 5 years with eligibility for tenure in the rank of senior lecturer by the end of this initial period.

This is a joint hiring by the following research groups: Cartography and GIS (CGIS) and Cosmopolis Centre for Urban Research at the Faculty of Sciences and Bioengineering Sciences (WE); Interface Demography (ID) and Mobility, Logistics and Automotive Technology (MOBI) at the Faculty of Social Sciences (ES). The position is part of a wider strategy of intensifying collaborations between WE and ES in the domain of interdisciplinary research in critical geospatial analysis through mixed method approaches combining GIS-based mapping/modelling with advanced statistical analysis and participatory methods (including citizen science). 


The candidate will have reduced teaching duties (an average of max. 8 ECTS per semester) in the first five years of the position. The teaching will be primarily oriented towards quantitative research methods, in particular GIS and spatial analysis related courses in the BSc and MSc in Geography, the MSc Urban Studies, the MSc Urban Design and Spatial Planning and the MA in Sociology. The candidate is also expected to supervise bachelor and master theses.

Following this period, she/he is also expected to lead on developing and (co-)teaching a set of course units in quantitative and/or mixed geospatial research methods; in the first instance to be offered in the MSc Urban Studies and the BA Social Sciences. It is also expected that s/he will play an active role in the realization of a ‘methodology lab’ oriented towards methodological innovation and training in quantitative and qualitative research methods in geosocial sciences that is open to the wider VUB community.


Living in compact cities is put forward as a solution to the current environmental crisis, yet cities have become unaffordable for a growing part of the population with dire social, economic, and political effects. Within cities access to foundational amenities – such as green and blue infrastructure, energy, transport services, food, housing, care, education, telecommunications – is both spatially and socially unevenly distributed. Some neighbourhoods enjoy high levels of liveability while other have low levels of well-being and health of its residents and are bereft of affordable and accessible amenities. 

Despite constituting a major societal challenge, the analysis of the urban geographies of accessibility of foundational amenities at times of ecological transition lacks an integrative, empirical, and systematic approach. This is fundamentally hampered by a dearth of critical and scientifically robust methods that can support an interdisciplinary approach to the matter. Witnessing this research gap, critical geo-information science (GIS) has a key role to play in research on the accessibility of urban amenities.

Tackling the above challenges requires a mixed, interdisciplinary research approach that combines geospatial modelling, advanced statistical (big) data analysis and participatory research. Apart from publicly or government-provided big data, also volunteered geographical information and social sensing data may contribute to a better understanding of relationships and mismatches between the supply and demand of/for foundational urban amenities and the mechanisms behind it and serve the outlined goals. 

With these aims in mind and building on the expertise of the involved research groups, the current position seeks to attract a senior researcher to further develop a nascent line of research that advances an interdisciplinary take on the equitable accessibility of foundational urban infrastructure. We seek to anchor research in the Brussels context, but also endorse comparative urbanism approaches including cities in the Global North and South, while deploying and refining critical GIS methodologies.


The candidate will be a member of the mentioned research groups and departments. She/he will be expected to participate in operational and administrative aspects, mainly in the Department of Geography.    

It is expected that the candidate will take on a leading and collegial role in developing collaborations in research and education of the involved departments. 

Job profile

  • As a formal minimum requirement, applicants must hold a PhD awarded on the basis of an original thesis. 
  • The candidate should ideally also have: 
    • A background in geography, geo-information science, urban studies, demography, sociology, transport studies, environmental studies or a related discipline;
    • Experience in quantitative analysis of spatial data (GIS), GIS programming/scripting and use of open source geospatial libraries;
    • Good statistical background and experience in the use of statistical software; 
    • Strong affinity with urban oriented research, social geography and/or spatial demographics;
    • Experience with data driven analysis techniques (machine learning approaches, data-mining, …), analysis of big data and volunteered geographical information is a strong plus;
    • Proven teaching skills and experience in supervising students;
    • An emerging or established track record of relevant publications;
    • Experience in applying for research grants and/or project coordination skills;
    • Strong networking and social skills.
  • The candidate should be fluent in English. Non-Dutch-speaking candidates will have to demonstrate knowledge of Dutch after 5 years. 
  • Knowledge of French is an asset.

Planned starting date: 01/11/2020. Applications online only via the following link: https://jobs.vub.be/job/Elsene-ZAP-vacature-enkel-tenure-track/598241401/

Contact: Prof. Matthieu Kervyn, Head of Geography Department: Matthieu.Kervyn.De.Meerendre@vub.be