We’re Hiring! PhD Position

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PhD position (4 year) – EPIBEL: Epidemics and Inequalities in Belgium from the Plague to COVID-19: what can we learn about societal resilience?

This project elaborates a historical perspective on two of the most pressing challenges of today: epidemics and inequality. The more we learn about the way the lives and livelihoods of people are being devastated by COVID-19, the more we see that the impact is socially biased: some people are more likely to suffer in their health and their material wellbeing than others. However, as the pandemic is still unfolding, our understanding of these inequalities is still limited. COVID-19 is not the first epidemic outbreak which hit the world. On the contrary, the struggle against recurrent epidemic diseases has been a vital concern for households and governments for centuries, before gradually fading away in public discourse in the course of the 20th century. EPIBEL hence mobilizes the wealth of information on differential vulnerability and resilience to epidemics in the history of Belgium/the Southern Low Countries in order to improve our understanding of societal resilience today:

  • First of all, EPIBEL aims to understand the role of socio-demographic and -economic inequalities in COVID-19 mortality. Who died as a result of the pandemic? (WP1)
  • Secondly, EPIBEL investigates whether inequalities in COVID-19 mortality differed from previous epidemic outbreaks, from late medieval plague waves over dysentery in the 17th century and the 1866 cholera pandemic to the ‘Spanish’ Flu of 1918/19 (WP2)
  • Thirdly, EPIBEL investigates how inequalities in the economic impact of epidemics interacted with health-inequalities and affected societal resilience (WP3)
  • Fourthly, EPIBEL investigates how the scale and organisation of social care and welfare systems mitigated the effects of an epidemic outbreak on poverty (WP4)
  • Fifthly, EPIBEL informs policy-makers on the importance of inequalities when promoting societal resilience. How have ‘epidemic policies’ in the past affected differential mortality and societal resilience? (WP5)

EPIBEL is a collaboration between four research teams: AIPRIL – the Antwerp Interdisciplinary Platform for Research into Inequality (Tim Soens), the UGent Quetelet Centre for Quantitative Historical Research (Isabelle Devos), the UCL Center for Demographic Research and the UAntwerp Centre for Urban History (Hilde Greefs). At full strength, the EPIBEL team wil consist of a post-doctoral researcher (Vacancy 1); a PhD-researcher (Vacancy 2); a scientific collaborator (at UGhent working on WP2) and a post-doctoral researcher (at UCL, working on WP1).

Job description

  • Embedded in the interdisciplinary and interuniversity EPIBEL project and working at the Centre for Urban History of UAntwerp, you are responsible for WP 3 and 4 of EPIBEL, investigating the social and economic impact of a number of epidemic outbreaks in the history of Belgium/the Southern Low Countries
  • You prepare a doctoral thesis in the field of social and economic history on this topic
  • You are involved in the valorisation program of EPIBEL, translating the results to different target audiences – from health professionals, over secondary schools to family historians.
  • You publish scientific articles/book chapters related to the research project. These publications can be co-authored with other project members and external researchers.
  • You participate in the activities of EPIBEL, as well as the different research centres involved (AIPRIL, CSG, Quetelet Centre and DEMO).

Profile and requirements

  • You hold a master degree in history
  • Also students in the final year of their degree can apply
  • Experience in the field of economic and/or social history of the medieval, early modern or modern period is recommended.
  • You are fluent in academic English, Dutch and French
  • You are trained in the statistical analysis of historical data
  • Your palaeographic skills are excellent
  • You can submit outstanding academic results
  • Your academic qualities comply with the requirements stipulated in the university’s policy
  • You are quality-oriented, conscientious, creative and cooperative
  • You have strong communication skills.

What we offer

  • We offer a fully-funded 4-year Phd-Scholarship position 2021-2025
  • Your monthly scholarship amount is calculated according to the scholarship amounts for doctoral scholarship holders on the pay scales for contract research staff (Dutch: Bijzonder Academisch Personeel, BAP)
  • You will do most of your work at the UAntwerp City Campus in a dynamic and stimulating working environment
  • The planned start date is 1 June 2021 (or later).

Want to apply?

  • You can apply for this vacancy through the University of Antwerp’s online job application platform until 15 April 2021. Click on the ‘Apply’ button, complete the online application form and be sure to include the following attachments: (1) a motivation letter, (2) your academic CV with Bachelor and Master qualification (including grades or marks), (3) a separate statement explaining your motivation for the relevant vacancy.
  • The selection committee will review all of the applications as soon as possible after the application deadline. As soon as a decision has been made, we will inform you about the next steps in the selection procedure.
  • If you have any questions about the online application form, please check the frequently asked questions or send an email to jobs@uantwerpen.be. If you have any questions about the job itself, please contact one of the supervisors: prof. dr. Hilde Greefs (hilde.greefs@uantwerpen.be); Prof. dr. Tim Soens (tim.soens@uantwerpen.be), prof. dr. Isabelle Devos (Isabelle.devos@ugent.be), prof. dr. Thierry Eggerickx (thierry.eggerickx@uclouvain.be) or prof. dr. Hilde Greefs (hilde.greefs@uantwerpen.be)  

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis, we need to be flexible in this hiring procedure. If we can assist in any way or should be made aware of certain issues that affect your application, please let us know as soon as possible so we can take these into account.

The University of Antwerp received the European Commission’s HR Excellence in Research Award for its HR policy. We are a sustainable, family-friendly organisation which invests in its employees’ growth. We encourage diversity and attach great importance to an inclusive working environment and equal opportunities, regardless of gender identity, disability, race, ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation or age. We encourage people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse characteristics to apply.