PhD researcher 'Young people’s learning in digital worlds: the alienation and re-imagining of education’/native speaker of Dutch (0.8 - 1.0 FTE)

Research / Academic


We are looking for a PhD student who has an interest in developing a study on young people’s development and learning in digital worlds.

Digital technology offers young people the possibility to gain control over their own development and learning. In alternative spaces, such as online interest communities, they are able to develop expertise and shape their identities, relatively removed from (mainstream) gatekeepers and guardians such as parents and teachers. At the same time, there are concerns that these new digital spaces threaten, surveil, control, and exploit young people. Consequently, societies struggle to adapt to the long-term impact of digitisation and what it means to be educated might be troubling and confusing.

One of the issues that is foregrounded in this project is how technology impacts upon young people’s perceptions and practices of learning, in particular through its potential to profoundly reshape notions of the self and the social. It starts from the idea that young people are at the forefront of this new imagining of what being educated can or might mean now and in the future.

From a philosophical analysis of the effects of technology, as well as empirical research, the project centres around the question: how are young people re-conceptualising contemporary cultural narratives of learning? Empirical research will be conducted with young people (14-19) in the last stages of their formal education, focusing on so-called high-end, or high-use, digital 'experts' using (digital) ethnography, discourse analysis and social network analysis.

The research project is part of a larger international project in which a collaboration between Utrecht University and Deakin University, Australia, is involved. Although data collection in this PhD project will take place in the Netherlands, the PhD researcher will be part of this international, comparative project and work on cross-comparison across the research sites during this project. At the same time, the project seeks to contribute to policy issues and discussions at a national level on matters such as education in the 21th century or digital citizenship for youth.

The PhD project will be conducted within the larger research programme Education and Learning at the Department of Education and Pedagogy, Utrecht University. Project leader of Utrecht University project is prof. dr. Mariëtte de Haan. Project leader of the Deakin University project is prof. dr. Julian Sefton-Green.

The candidate will contribute to the research project 'Young people’s learning in digital worlds: the alienation and re-imagining of education’ and further develop this project in collaboration with the team. There is room for the candidate’s own ideas and reflections on how to bring this about.

The candidate will contribute to the further research design, data collection, analyses and writing and is expected to publish in international scientific journals, write a dissertation and present results at national and international conferences. The candidate will be encouraged to write for national professional journals and fora.

The possibility exists to follow advanced graduate courses as deemed necessary. It is possible to teach at undergraduate level, in accordance to the specific profile of the candidate and the specific needs of our teaching programmes. 


We are looking for a motivated, independent and conceptually strong student experienced in empirical research from the Learning Sciences or Educational Sciences, or someone with an interest in the learning and development of young people from Pedagogical Sciences, Anthropology, Media Studies or similar.


  • A (research) master's degree in the above mentioned disciplines or similar.
  • Native speaker of Dutch.
  • Excellent writing skills.
  • Excellent social and communicative skills, and willingness to collaborate.
  • Excellent research skills: experience with conducting empirical research independently, experience with qualitative research (conducting interviews, qualitative analysis), preferably also experience with quantitative research.
  • Knowledge and/or affinity with (at least a number of) the following fields: digital media, youth, learning, education, philosophy, digital citizenship, cultural diversity.
  • Willingness to engage in international research (international travel).
  • A good written and oral command of the English language.

Salary Benefits:

We offer a position for 0.8 FTE for four years in an international working environment. The possibility exists that, under certain conditions, the position can be supplemented with 0.2 FTE teaching tasks. The initial appointment to the position will be made for a 0.8 FTE or 1.0 FTE for one year and - upon  satisfactory completion - will result in an extension for another four or three years. It is expected that the appointee will complete all requirements for the PhD degree within this period.

The expected start date is no later than January 2019. The salary is €2,266 gross per month in the first year and is expected to increase to €2,897 gross per month in the fourth year, for a full-time employment, contingent on satisfactory performance. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year-end allowance of 8.3% per year. In addition, Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions, including an attractive retirement scheme, (partly paid) parental leave and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). Here you'll find more information about working at Utrecht University.

Work Hours:

30 - 40 hours per week


Heidelberglaan 1