Internship Opportunities at Utrecht University Centre for Global Challenges in Sustainability Transitions


Note: To be eligible for the internship positions, you have to be located in the Netherlands. 

Are you enthusiastic about confronting global challenges in transformative ways and would like to work in close collaboration with academics and global societal stakeholders? Do you have a special interest in sustainability, and would like to work in an international team? We currently have two internship possibilities available in two of our ongoing research projects at the Utrecht University Centre for Global Challenges within the team led by Professor Johan Schot, who specialises in history of technology and sustainability transitions.

Project 1. Deep Transitions Futures (www.deeptransitions.net)

The Deep Transitions Futures project is a collaboration between the Utrecht University Centre for Global Challenges and the Science Policy Research Unit of University of Sussex (SPRU). The project is financed by Baillie Gifford and studies Deep Transitions, long-term instances of systemic change. The Deep Transitions research framework makes a distinction between the First and the Second Deep Transition. The First Deep Transition has led to industrial modernity and globalisation, from the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s until the adoption of information systems and telecommunications in the 1970s. This has led to a society that embraces fossil fuels; wasteful production, and mass-production and consumption. This resulted in infrastructures (or ‘socio-technical systems’) for the provision of food, health, mobility, energy, communication, education and finance that are unsustainable. The Deep Transition Futures research team, together with a panel of global investors, develops desirable futures that can lead to a Second Deep Transitions – a fundamental re-ordering of the First Deep Transition in response to the problems created by modernisation, through drawing on the key concepts of the Deep Transitions framework such as rules and socio technical systems. The Global Investors Panel is set up to challenge current investment policies in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) and develop a new investment philosophy to finance and accelerate sustainable transformations.

Internship opportunity:

We are offering a hands-on internship position that focusses on  raising awareness and informing about the Deep Transitions project by means of knowledge dissemination amongst the research community, practitioners (finance, policymakers) and the wider public. You will contribute to the development of communication and public engagement materials and strategies, aimed at engaging different audiences in “crowdsourcing” initiatives that shall validate the future worlds proposed by the Deep Transitions team. Key to this internship is the ability to translate complex scientific concepts into comprehensible outputs for a broader public. You will work in close collaboration with the implementation and the communications team responsible for turning the work of the Global Investors Panel into impactful resources and support them in their daily operations. We are looking for two creative, savvy students who are interested in the fields of future studies and sustainability transitions and would like to engage a wider public in the Deep Transitions dialogue, to critically assess the controversies and opportunities of Deep Transitions thinking, and thus contribute to generating traction for the project as a whole.

Project 2. EIT Climate-KIC: MOTION project (http://tipconsortium.net/experiment/the-motion-project/)

MOTION is a collaboration between the Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium (TIPC) and EIT Climate-KIC, an organisation that is part of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology. EIT Climate-KIC is a public funding body aiming to accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon economy. It does so by acting both as a funder for projects in the field and as a network organisation bringing together partners in the worlds of business, academia, and the public and non-profit sectors. The aim of the MOTION project is to develop a methodology to help cities and local governments and stakeholders to facilitate sustainable transformations in their regions. This methodology is based on a formative evaluation approach that uses sustainability transitions theory and insights as a basis. The project is in its final year, and the learnings obtained are being translated into a handbook for practitioners, a step-by-step guide on how to apply this approach to real-world cases that can be used by EIT Climate-KIC and others.

Internship opportunity

As part of this internship, you will be assisting with the development of the handbook for practitioners and other learning materials consolidating the findings of the MOTION project and aimed at professional education. One key aspect is translating insights from sustainability transitions research into actionable knowledge relevant to policymakers, NGOs and other stakeholders working on sustainability-related issues. You will work in close collaboration with both researchers and communications experts and gain experience in creating learning materials and disseminating knowledge, which will contribute to articulating various policy outcomes.

We are looking for students who:

  • are following an MA programme and have a background in science communication, sustainable development or related disciplines (such as economics, governance, international relations);
  • are interested in research and have an affinity with the research topics of Johan Schot;
  • are proactive, enthusiastic, communicative, responsible, and able to work with deadlines;
  • are both able to work independently as well as part of a team;
  • have full proficiency in the English language;
  • have experience and/or wish to learn to develop communication, public engagement and learning materials for societal stakeholders under the sustainability theme.

What do we have to offer?

  • A versatile internship within an international research team
  • The opportunity to actively contribute to sustainable solutions for societal challenges.
  • The opportunity to apply academic knowledge and skills into practice, with tangible outputs.
  • Next to the required tasks, personal initiative or special interest in certain topics are appreciated and can naturally be discussed.
  • The internship would preferably be part-time for a duration of 5 months, starting in September 2021. Other scenarios can be discussed based on study programme or personal preference
  • Monthly compensation available


In principle, the team is working remotely and interns will be doing the same. Depending on the development of COVID regulations, office days may be allowed (but are always voluntary). The team is working in multiple locations across the globe so we have a long-established and active online community which you will be part of during the internship.

Are you enthusiastic? Send your CV (max. 2 A4) and a motivation letter (max. 1 A4) by 1 September 2021 to Louisa King (l.king@uu.nl). Please clearly state for which of the position(s) you would like to be considered.

If you have any questions about the internship, please contact Carla Alvial Palavicino (c.m.e.alvialpalavicino@uu.nl) and Susanne Keesman (s.j.keesman@uu.nl).