Research Associate: Social-Ecological Interactions in Agricultural Systems group of the University of Kassel, Germany

Research Associate: Social-Ecological Interactions in Agricultural Systems group of the University of Kassel, Germany, University of Kassel


part-time (26h/week)


Witzenhausen, Germany




The University of Kassel is a young university with ca. 25.000 students. It comprises an unusually wide range of disciplines, with expertise in the natural and social sciences, engineering, and humanities. Its Social-Ecological Interactions in Agricultural Systems group (Prof. Dr. Tobias Plieninger) offers the following position:

Research Associate (m/f/x), EG 13 TV-H, part-time, currently 26 h per week 

This is a part-time position with 65% of the working time of a full-time employee and an initial fixed-term position until 31.08.2023 (§2 (2) WissZeitVG). The position is integrated into a research project funded by the Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA): “ConServeTerra – Overcoming the physical and mental barriers for upscaling Conservation Agriculture in the Mediterranean”. ConServeTerra aims to facilitate wider acceptance and adoption of conservation agriculture principles in the Mediterranean region by tackling the mental, cultural and contextual realities surrounding farmers’ soil management decisions. The research associate will study how to determine the mental models and social determinants of farmers’ soil management decisions, particularly in respect to conservation agriculture and reduced soil disturbance. The research associate will work in case studies in Spain, Morocco, and Tunisia. Mental model analysis, placed-based research site comparisons, participatory workshops, and semi-structured interviews will be combined to elicit the knowledge, relationships, values, and limitations regarding conservation agriculture practices of different actors along the different case studies. The opportunity for a doctorate is given.


  • Designing and performing research that develops an integrated understanding of farmers' socio-cultural values and mental models associated with the land, and the factors driving their land management practices 
  • Contributing to the social-ecological synthesis of the project 
  • Publication of project insights in scientific journals and other outlets for multiple target groups


  • University degree in science (Master) with at least good grades in agriculture, forestry, geography, environmental social sciences, or related fields. The degree required for this position must have been obtained by the starting date at the latest. 
  • Experience in conducting surveys in the field, using (qualitative and quantitative) participatory methods, and ability to perform fieldwork under challenging conditions 
  • Familiarity with concepts and approaches of sustainability science (ecosystem services, multifunctional land use, social-ecological systems) 
  • Experience in working cohesively in an interdisciplinary team environment 
  • Skills to publish in international journals 
  • Excellent written and oral English (and ideally French) communication skills 
  • Arabic communication skills will evaluate positively


  • A collegial and open-minded working atmosphere within a team of highly motivated researchers from different scientific backgrounds covering all career stages 
  • A unique experience of conducting place-based research in rural areas in Spain, Morocco, and Tunisia together with an interdisciplinary research team and local stakeholders 
  • The opportunity of carrying out a Ph.D. in an international setup and contributing to the growing research field of landscape sustainability 

Witzenhausen is a lively and beautiful university town famous for its sustainable agriculture bachelor and master programs. It is within a short commuting distance by train from the cities of Kassel and Göttingen, which are nodal points in the German railway system and therefore very well connected by train to the rest of Europe.

How To Apply

Please submit your application by 17 June 2020, preferably in digital form as a single PDF document. Application documents should include a motivation letter, CV, Master and Bachelor level certificates and transcripts, and names and contact details of two academic references. Please address all selection criteria under clearly labeled headings in up to one short paragraph each. Applications indicating the Position Number 33177 should be sent, preferably in digital format, to the President of the University of Kassel, 34109 Kassel, Germany, 

The protection of your personal data is important to us, therefore we will handle your personal data carefully. If you give us your data, you allow us to store and use them in accordance with the Hessian Data Protection and Freedom of Information Act. You can object to this at any time. Your personal data will later be deleted. Please find information on the application procedure at the University of Kassel according to art. 13 DSGVO at www.uni-

The University of Kassel is an equal opportunity employer and aims at a clear increase of the proportion of women in research and teaching. Qualified women are therefore explicitly requested to apply. Under the precondition of equal qualification, disabled persons will be preferred. 

For further information please contact Dr. Cristina Quintas-Soriano, E-Mail: 

Link to online announcement: