Associate Academic Officer

United Nations University, Bonn, Germany

Skill Required:, Education Advising
Preferred Experience: 
1 to 3 Years
Closing Date for Applications: 
31st January, 2021

Job Description

The United Nations University (UNU) is an international community of scholars, engaged in research, postgraduate teaching and capacity development and dissemination of knowledge in furthering the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. The mission of UNU is to contribute, through research and capacity building, to efforts to resolve the pressing global problems that are the concern of the United Nations and its Member States.


UNU-EHS, established in December 2003, is part of the UNU system, a worldwide network of research and training institutes. Its mission is to advance human security through knowledge-based approaches to reducing vulnerability and environmental risks. 

Limiting climate change requires rapid and radical transformation of development pathways, especially in cities, which are responsible for 70% of global CO2 emissions. Together with international consortium partners the Transformative Urban Coalition Programme will develop, test, and disseminate a scalable approach for achieving key shifts in urban development to put cities on a path to zero-carbon emissions by 2050. Over the course of the coming years the programme will test an approach to transformative governance by means of transformative research in five pilot cities in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, combined with implementation of transformative initiatives including the development of new actor constellations. Governance blueprints and lessons from pilot cities will be disseminated through the global networks of UNU and programme partners and new transformation partnerships initiated to make sustainable urbanisation a feasible global priority. One goal is to shape public debate both locally and globally, by means of media engagement, educational activities and interaction with art and film.

  • The programme will be newly established within UNU-EHS and is foreseen to be financed for six years.


  • Under the guidance of the programme lead the successful candidate shall be responsible for the following tasks:
  • contribute to developing methodologies and tools for changing mindsets to foster socially just, zero-carbon, urban pathways
  • produce studies on different project-related topics such as transformative knowledge, transformative social innovation, governance / policy, and transformative change
  • develop baseline studies and collect progress data, including measuring change of mindsets and transformative social innovation in the urban labs
  • evaluate success factors for sustainability transformation/transition
  • conduct primary and secondary data collection and analysis including literature surveys and local data acquisition; conduct network/constellation analyses; support local teams in pilot cities with transformative research; guide and accelerate agency contributions to establishing networks for sustainability transformation(s)
  • co-develop shared guiding narratives, structures, and agendas in the urban labs and support uptake in communication for development strategies
  • contribute to the development of UNU-EHS’ strategic approach to urban transformation
  • contribute to different dialogue formats and organise programme-related events and planning processes
  • together with team members, develop and conduct online and offline training modules
  • contribute to training and teaching
  • co-author research reports, policy briefs, factsheets, and presentations
  • contribute to reporting and proposal writing
  • co-author scientific articles and present results at scientific conferences
  • further tasks as agreed to support the programme


We are looking for candidates fulfilling the following attributes:

  • completed doctoral degree or equivalent with high academic standing in transformation / transition studies, social sciences, psychology, geography, environmental science, urban studies, or other relevant fields with an emphasis on social-ecological change and a pronounced interest in initiating shifts for social innovation towards just and effective climate protection
  • relevant professional experience (for non-PhD-holder, at least five years), some of which preferably in an international setting; regional experience from Latin America would be beneficial; strong methodological skillset for qualitative empirical research and quantitative methods are an asset
  • in-depth knowledge of concepts and methods in transformation research and design, urban labs, and participatory planning approaches
  • familiarity with sustainable urban planning / management and related governance approaches, as well as current challenges and opportunities in the field would be an asset
  • familiarity with concepts and methods in climate change communication or visualisation would be an asset
  • training and moderation skills would be an asset
  • excellent communication and writing skills (academic and non-academic) with fluency in spoken and written English and Spanish; ability to communicate in Portuguese is an asset
  • demonstrated ability to synthesise complex information, regulations, and policies and to translate into impactful communications and publications / reports / presentations
  • initiative seeker; strong ability to carry out work independently; creative and curious personality preferred
  • team player with strong interpersonal skills demonstrated by the ability to work in a multicultural environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity
  • willingness for longer research stays in the pilot cities.


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