The United Nations University (UNU) is an international community of scholars engaged in policy-oriented research, capacity development and dissemination of knowledge, furthering the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. UNU’s mission 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.
For the past four decades, United Nations University (UNU) has been a go-to think tank for impartial research on human survival, conflict prevention, sustainable development and welfare. With more than 400 researchers in 12 countries, UNU’s work spans the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, generating policy-relevant knowledge to effect positive global change. UNU maintains more than 200 collaborations with UN agencies and leading universities and research institutions across the globe.
The United Nations University – Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT)
The United Nations University – Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT) is a research and training institute of the United Nations University (UNU) based in Maastricht in the south of the Netherlands, closely collaborating with Maastricht University (UM). Through its research agenda on ‘Comprehensive Innovation for Sustainable Development' (CI4SD), UNU-MERIT aims to generate new knowledge on the intricate nature and role of innovation in complex social-economic-technological settings, to translate this knowledge into new methods, tools, policies and governance structures, and to educate and train students, researchers and policymakers to assimilate, apply and implement these new insights. For more information on UNU-MERIT and our work, please visit www.merit.unu.edu.
UNU-MERIT’s Computational Innovation Lab on Crises, Transformation and Sustainable Development
UNU-MERIT is in the process of establishing a Computational Innovation Lab as a new institutional expertise centre on data, AI and computational modelling to strengthen UNU-MERIT’s strategic agenda on comprehensive innovation for sustainable development (CI4SD). Drawing upon the research expertise of the institute, the Lab’s mission is to provide actionable data and computational models for research, education and policymaking on CI4SD.
The Lab’s focus is on the contribution of data, AI and computational models to understand the impacts of significant disruptions such as crises and systemic shocks on ‘the green transformation’ and sustainable development. Such disruptions may be caused by conflict, natural disasters, health crises or major changes in technologies, institutions and markets.
The green transformation aims to bring the economy within the limits of planetary boundaries while ensuring economic and societal progress for the current and future generations. In this context, research in the lab aims to contribute to our understanding of how transformative innovation can contribute to sustainable development goals while responding and adapting to crises and shocks, given diverse institutional and governance landscapes.
For example, how do crises such as extreme climate events (floods and heat waves) impact socio-economic outcomes regarding distributional consequences and between countries and regions e.g., between the global north and south? How do the war in Ukraine and the green transformation affect labour market outcomes, e.g., what are the jobs and occupations that will accompany a green transformation that is resilient against shocks? How does the transformation of global production networks, arising from concerns about carbon footprints (or by protectionist policies in lead markets) affect suppliers in the Global South? How can transformative innovation initiatives mitigate the negative consequences? Can shocks and crises, while entailing short-term adaptation and action, also open unexpected opportunities for longer-term structural change (‘opportunity in crises’)?
The Lab’s research agenda thus focuses on the complex interplay between major disruptions, systemic shocks, green transformation, and sustainable development. Research in the Computational Innovation Lab will have strong empirical grounding, using real-world data and case studies. The resulting data, information and models will be made available on a new data analysis platform, accessible to researchers within UNU-MERIT and globally.
To build up the inaugural team for the Lab, we are looking for highly motivated candidates who are eager to co-develop and drive its ambitious data-and information-driven research agenda as Research Fellow (2 P-3 positions) or Research Associate (4 PSA positions).
The Information Systems Management Research Associate is expected to contribute to the Lab’s research program, a role that will include working under the supervision of the Lab's Research Fellows, supporting other junior researchers and PhD Fellows at UNU-MERIT, interacting with researchers from the two research units of UNU-MERIT, and actively contribute to funding acquisition efforts for the Lab's activities. The expected outputs of this work include research articles in high-impact journals, policy reports with partner institutions, stakeholder workshops, conferences, and high-level presentations to government officials. Candidates should be comfortable in actively engaging with practitioners and policy makers on real-world cases. This requires a strong motivation to understand the context of policy problems, and to work with various – often heterogeneous or incomplete – types of data at the micro, meso and macro level. The new Lab will be formally launched in Spring 2023. In the pre-launch phase of the Lab, the inaugural team of Computational Innovation Lab Research Fellows and Associates will co-create with UNU-MERIT staff a strategy for data analytics, information management and the data analysis platform addressing the complex challenges described above. This strategy process will identify and prioritize ideas and initial projects to maximize impact, visibility and partnerships for the institute.
Under the overall supervision of the Director of the institute, the Information Systems Management Research Associate undertakes research and outreach activities in support of the institute’s Strategic Plan. The Research Associate’s responsibilities include the following:
Support database and platform design
Platform & web design
Support data standards
Perform other tasks as assigned by supervisor
Education and certification: