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March 20th, 2019

Eindhoven University of Technology (the Netherlands): (associate) professor sustainable mobility transitions

Introduction

With mobility responsible for around 25% of the total CO2 emission—and the only sector with increasing emissions—the challenge for a transition to sustainable mobility is more pressing than ever. Smart, sustainable mobility is one of the key research areas at TU/e with a strong focus on technical innovations for fuels, cars, trucks, and data. The rapid advancements in these areas create an urgent need to also analyse and evaluate the social consequences of the envisioned future sustainable mobility systems. Key issues are how such innovations are implemented and embedded in daily routines to fulfil the technical promises of smart mobility for real-life needs and how these innovations contribute to the grand social challenge of the transition to sustainable mobility systems.

To strengthen its position in this research area, Eindhoven University of Technology is creating a new, full-time (associate) professor position. The candidate will develop his or her own research agenda on transitions to sustainable mobility, based on the following research questions:

How can we understand the complex, long-term dynamics of the current mobility system, with its individual car and fossil-fuel dependence?

What are the (socio-technical) opportunities and barriers to innovation of current mobility systems towards multi-modality, shared mobility, mobility-as-a-service, and active mobility, and why is that so? How can we open up lock-ins in the current mobility system to enable a mobility transition towards sustainability while avoiding undesirable new lock-ins?

What could be learned from past changes in mobility systems for the design of new mobility systems, and how could such knowledge be used in current debates on developing sustainable mobility systems at local, national, and global levels?

These questions ask for dynamic interaction and dialogue between historical and long-term perspectives as well as present and future-oriented studies. These two transition approaches are crucial for an understanding of the mobility transition towards sustainability. More specifically, understanding mobility transition requires an analysis of social and technical change, involving issues ranging from path dependencies to pockets of persistence.

Institutional setting

The position is embedded in the Technology, Innovation & Society (TIS) group, which engages in research on the social and economic embedding of innovation. Technological innovations offer many opportunities to address key social challenges in areas like mobility, sustainable energy, globalization, and Europeanization. Change goes beyond mere development of such innovative technologies like cleaner cars and renewable energy technologies. Change also requires a transformation of existing socio-technical systems. This includes shifts in firm strategies, consumer behaviour, social practices, institutions, and regulations. The transition processes to a more sustainable future, in particular, cannot be studied in isolation: these require a broader, systems-oriented perspective. We understand the relationship between society and innovation as a mutually shaping process. Technologies intertwine with radical transformations in work, travel, communication, and private life.

Our group has a strong track record in studying transitions across the technical-social divide. Socio-technical perspectives are crucial in exploring, defining, and designing technology and policy interventions in the field of sustainable mobility transitions. The socio-technical dynamics of mobility systems involve path dependencies, technological momentum, pockets of persistence, as well as innovative niches and opportunities for change; analysis of these dynamics is crucial for designing the most appropriate policies and interventions for the present and future. In addition to energy transition research, our group is currently developing mobility transition research as a second broad application area with various research programs on mobility systems (automobility, pedestrianism to urban cycling) and spatial scales (local, national, European, global). We apply long-term (historic) as well as current and future perspectives.

The TIS group is one of the founding groups of the sustainability transitions field and globally recognized for its theoretical and empirical contributions. The group is part of the School of Innovation Sciences, which is one of the two schools that comprises the Department of Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences (IEIS). This department forms the heart of the university’s commitment to the social sciences and humanities in preparing future engineers for the challenges of tomorrow.

Tasks

The tasks of the (associate) professor will include the following:

Historians are encouraged to apply (deadline 31/3/2019).

You can find all information on the vacancy here.