Three Fully-Funded PhD Positions in Humanitarian Design

1.      Project Description

Recruited candidates will form part of the research project 'The Future of Humanitarian Design (HUD)'. HUD is a four-year Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) funded project focused on the challenges facing humanitarian action: war, refugee flows, forced displacement, etc. These humanitarian challenges are worsening. Contemporary conflicts are more frequent and protracted, refugee flows are rapidly destabilizing geopolitical structures, and humanitarian actors are under growing threat. In light of these dilemmas, HUD explores how emerging technologies, processes of aesthetic design, and engineering insights can be combined with knowledge from international relations to tackle the crisis facing humanitarianism. To do so, the project is constructed around a form of experimental action research in which international relations scholars will collaboratively work alongside architects, engineers, and others to lead the co-design of three technological innovations designed to improve humanitarian practice and conditions. In this, the goal is to 1) explore how we might better integrate 'high theoretical' and 'critical' social scientific concepts and theories into the world of practice (humanitarian and beyond), 2) to see how social science can be more closely 'bridged' with engineering, architectural, and design practice and knowledge, and 3) therein, take up the urgent task – especially in the light of recent geopolitical events – of working collaboratively across the sciences to improve the conditions of some of the most vulnerable populations in the world.

To  achieve this, HUD is a collaboration between the Geneva Graduate Institute, the University of Copenhagen, the Art and Design School in Geneva, and the EssentialTech Lab at EPFL Lausanne. It also  integrates high-level policy practitioners as project partners based at organizations including Médecins sans frontières (doctors without borders), Terre des hommes, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, alongside partnerships with research institutions in Colombia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

As part of the project, doctoral students will join this interdisciplinary and transvocational team, having the opportunity to travel and work in relevant field sites (Colombia, DRC). They will integrate the team as researchers whose dissertation project contribute to the realization of the overall HUD project. They will also complete the PhD training at the institution where they enrol. Finally, they will take a leading role in shaping the Early Career research activities related to the project.

For a project description see:

2.     Available Positions

Three fully-funded doctoral positions are available across Copenhagen and Geneva. Details of each position and how to apply can be found below:

At the University of Copenhagen:

At the Geneva Graduate Institute:
At HEAD-Geneve:

3.     Profile

We are seeking to recruit doctoral candidates with interdisciplinary competencies that cut across the following areas/themes:

  • Design (theory, materiality, aesthetics, arts); technological politics; (global) politics; architecture;
  • Humanitarian Action, and related fields of practice, broadly conceived;
  • Political violence and violence prevention;
  • An area studies interest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and/or Colombia (or related);


In addition to these areas of specialization, the following skills are expected/desired:

  • A background in a relevant social science, design-based, or architectural field;
  • A strong interest in interdisciplinary and/or transdisciplinary research (required);
  • Excellent English-language writing and speaking skills (required);
  • A willingness to take on independent responsibilities and leadership tasks (required);
  • Proficient communication skills and an ability to work independently as well as in teams (required);
  • A willingness to travel to relevant field sites and other locations as part of the project (required);
  •  Proficiency in one or more of French, Spanish, Swahili, Lingala (valued).

4.     Dossier and Applications

For details on how to complete your dossier and submit applications, please see the following links to each position at each institution:

At the Geneva Graduate Institute:
At the University of Copenhagen:

At HEAD-Geneve:

5.     Deadline

Applications are open until 1st May 2023.