Ph.D. in Sustainable Futures (Belgium/ The U.K.) Deadline: Jan. 15, 2019

The Academy of Business in Society (ABIS) & University of Exeter Business School

Application Deadline

Jan. 15, 2019

Program Commencement

May 1, 2019

Duration of the Program

3 Years

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Program Details

ABIS – The Academy of Business in Society is a global network of over 100 companies and academic institutions whose expertise, commitment and resources are leveraged to invest in a more sustainable future for business in society.

The Early Stage Researcher (ESR) positions being called for are to be funded by the Marie-Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network “ReTraCE” – Realising the Transition towards the Circular Economy within the Horizon 2020 Program of the European Commission. ReTraCe as a network brings together an exceptionally strong team of world-leading experts from a wide set of beneficiaries and partners in order to achieve breakthroughs in understanding how the transition towards a Circular Economy (CE) can be realized in a successful way in the European context, both within existing organisations and industries as well as through innovative and sustainable business models. The consortium of 10 beneficiaries (including 7 academic and 3 non-academic groups from the UK, The Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Italy, Greece and Germany) will design and deliver world class multidisciplinary training to 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs), offering them an extended and valuable program of international exchanges and secondments through the wide network of partner organisations (from public, private and third sector) involved in the proposal.

The network builds on the success of previous projects in which beneficiaries have successfully delivered high impact research and knowledge exchange. ReTraCE is specifically designed to train a cohort of new thought leaders capable of driving the transition towards a more sustainable mode of production and consumption in Europe in the next decades, who will directly facilitate the implementation of the recently adopted ambitious Circular Economy strategy of the European Commission, which is closely linked to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Indeed, it is envisaged that ESRs will be employable not only by research institutions, but also by public sector bodies and within a wide range of manufacturing and service industries which will require new professional profiles for realising the transition towards the CE.

The proposed approach is inherently multi-disciplinary, drawing upon research that will advance significantly the state-of-the-art in terms of the current understanding of the applicability of the CE paradigm from Economic, Environmental and Social points of view, providing policy insights and implications for practice. The position will be hosted by the Academy of Business in Society (ABIS) located in Brussels. However, the ESR will be enrolled in the PhD programme in Sustainable Futures at the University of Exeter Business School and will be required to spend a substantial amount of time in the UK.

 The ESR will contribute to the ITN joint research by focusing on the following topic:

 “The discourse of Circular Economy in the EU policy and public debate”

General Objectives:

  1. To analyse the Discourse of the Circular Economy in the European Union and to map its regulatory development.
  2. To analyse the origin, adoption and diffusion of the Circular Economy strategy at the level of the European Union institutions.
  3. To identify and analyse the networks of stakeholders that participate in the construction of the discourse around the Circular Economy in the European context.
  4. To compare the Circular Economy strategy as defined by the European Union with possible alternative framings that emerge from stakeholders’ activities or other regulatory environments.


  1. Dr Mario Pansera, ABIS
  2. Prof. Steffen Boehm, Professor in Organisation & Sustainability, University of Exeter Business School
  3. Dr Sarah Hartley, Senior Lecturer in Management, University of Exeter Business School

The successful candidates will receive an attractive salary in accordance with the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) regulations for early stage researchers. The exact salary will be confirmed upon appointment.

Basic gross rates include a living allowance (€3270 per month), a mobility allowance (€600 per month) and a family allowance (€500, if applicable). ESRs will also get access to funds covering Research, Networking and Training costs. ESRs will also be enrolled for PhD studies at institutions which are part of the consortium. Funding will cover the entire 36-month period.

In addition to individual scientific projects, all fellows will benefit from further continuing education, which includes internships and secondments, a variety of training modules as well as transferable skills courses and active participation in workshops and conferences.

Eligibility/ Requirements

Applicants are expected to have an outstanding research record, be highly motivated and proactive, have excellent organisation and communication skills, be able to work independently as well as in a team, and be eager to disseminate research results through publications and presentations at international conferences and seminars. Fluency in English is a prerequisite. Applicants for the ESR positions are specifically required to have an IELTS point score of 7.0 or above. Women are especially encouraged to apply.


  • ESR are those who are, at the time of recruitment by the host, in the first four years (full-time equivalent) of their research careers. This is measured from the date when they obtained the degree which formally entitles them to embark on a doctorate, either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country in which the research training is provided, irrespective of whether or not a doctorate was envisaged.
  • Marie Curie Innovative Training Networks are a mobility scheme. Researchers are required to undertake trans-national mobility (i.e. move from one country to another) when taking up the appointment. At the time of selection by the host organisation, researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of their host organisation for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to their recruitment. Short stays, such as holidays, are not taken into account.
  • Network fellows (ESRs) must demonstrate that their ability to understand and express themselves in both written and spoken English is sufficiently high for them to derive the full benefit from the network training.

Application Process

Applications are to be sent online to along with

  • a cover letter
  • CV
  • a reference letter.

Please read about the project and the positions carefully here before applying. 

For further queries, please write to Dr. Mario Pansera.

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