PhD Candidate in “The Agri/Cultures Project” at GenØk – Centre for Biosafety (UiT The Arctic University)


Application deadline: April 30th 2014


GenØk Centre for Biosafety is looking for a PhD candidate to work on The Agri/Cultures Project: Operationalising Norway’s Gene Technology Act & it’s Requirement for Social and Ethical Justifiability”.

Applicants must hold a master’s degree or equivalent and be qualified for PhD study in Norway. Enrollment for the degree will be at UiT The Arctic University of Norway while the candidate will work within the Society, Ecology and Ethics Department at GenØk – Centre for Biosafety.  The PhD position is for 3 years, with anticipated commencement on August 1st 2014.

UiT The Arctic University of Norway is the northernmost university in the world, located in Tromsø where life is shaped by wild nature, contrasting light and weather conditions, geographic distances and multiculturalism. Read more at:

GenØk – Centre for Biosafety is the national competence centre for biosafety in Norway. GenØk conducts research on social and ethical aspects of biotechnologies as well as their impacts on human health and the environment, provides policy advice to national and international governments and institutions on biosafety issues, and delivers capacity building for scientists, regulators and civil society organisers around the world in the risk assessment and regulation of genetically modified organisms. Read more at:

Project description

The use of biotechnology, and particularly the cultivation of genetically modified crops, has been the singularly most controversial development in modern agriculture and remains an issue of unresolved social and political tension around the globe. Norway is unique internationally in that its Gene Technology Act explicitly aims to ensure that the introduction and use of genetically modified organisms is “socially and ethically justifiable”. In doing so, it requires that regulatory consideration be given to the technology’s societal benefit and contribution to sustainable development. Unfortunately, a lack of empirical knowledge and concrete methods for performing this type of assessment currently inhibit the ability to operationalize these features. To help address this problem, the Agri/Cultures project seeks to: a) develop new methods for conceptualising and researching biotechnologies not as isolated objects but as networks of socio-cultural and eco-technical relations, and b) generate empirical knowledge that can enable the assessment of such relational networks against criteria of sustainability, societal benefit and ethical justifiability.

Within the overarching scope of the Agri/Cultures project, the PhD project will develop ‘agri/culture cartographies’ to capture and document the relational networks of different types of agricultural systems. These cartographies will be generated by ‘following a kernel of corn’ through various lifecycle stages (production, cultivation, use) under different agricultural systems (organic, chemical, biotechnological) to generate a map of the relational networks encountered (biological and social; cultural and technical). The development of these agri/culture cartographies will involve a combination of desk-based research and fieldwork and will include both textual and visual forms of documentation (with short films illustrating the different agricultural systems and their relational networks an intended outcome of the project). These agri/culture cartographies will then form the contextual grounds for assessing agricultural biotechnologies according to their social and ethical justifiability.

The candidate appointed to this position will primarily work within a European context, with fieldwork in Spain.

Qualification requirements

The PhD position is for a fixed term, with the objective of completion of research training to the level of a doctoral degree. The programme period starts upon commencement of the position. The PhD Candidate shall participate in the university’s organized research training, and the PhD project shall be completed during the period of employment. The regulations for the degree of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) are available (in Norwegian) at the following address:

Applicants must be qualified to undertake PhD studies in Norway. This requires that the candidate hold either a Master’s degree of 300 credits or a Master’s degree of 120 credits combined with a Bachelor’s degree of 180 credits. Experience-based Master’s of 120 credits may also provide a basis for admission. Additionally, the Masters degree must have attained a grade of B or higher to be eligible for entry into a PhD program. Finally, the applicant must be able to document proficiency in English equivalent to Norwegian Higher Education Entrance Qualification.

Since the Agri/Cultures project is interdisciplinary in nature, applicants for the PhD position could come from a range of relevant fields, including but not limited to: science & technology studies, visual anthropology, cultural studies, philosophy, sociology, political science, agricultural science, environmental management or ecological economics.

Working conditions

PhD candidates in Norway are normally remunerated at the State wage scale code 1017. As part of their employment, the PhD candidate will join GenØk’s pension plan, which although undergoing some changes, currently involves a deposit of 2%.

Questions concerning the organisation of the working environment, such as the physical state of the place of employment, health service, possibility for flexible working hours, part time, etc., as well as questions about the PhD programme may be directed to the contact person given above. GenØk has HR policy objectives that emphasize diversity, and therefore encourages qualified applicants to apply regardless of their gender, functional ability and national or ethnic background. GenØk is an IW (Inclusive Workplace) enterprise, and will therefore emphasize making the necessary adaptations to the working conditions for employees with reduced functional ability.


The applicants will be assessed by an expert committee.

All applicants will need to meet the basic requirements for entry into PhD programs in Norway (described above) to be considered for the position. Following that, weight will be given to the relevance of the applicant’s academic background and experience for the project and the grades received in previous degrees. Weight will also be given to the following desirable (although not required) criteria: competence in Spanish; skills in digital and visual forms of communication; knowledge of agricultural systems and issues surrounding biotechnologies; training or experience working in interdisciplinary settings (particularly across the natural and social sciences). Emphasis will also be attached to personal suitability.


The application must be submitted electronically before April 30th to Jobbnorge. Follow this link to apply for the position.

The applications should be written in English and include:

  • A one page statement of why you are interested in the position and how your background, interests and/or expertise will be beneficial for the project
  • A curriculum vitae
  • An example of academic writing (e.g. a published article, a coursework essay, or copy of the Masters thesis)

In addition, by the application deadline of April 30th, a paper copy of the following documents shall be sent to GenØk:

  • Certified copies of:

–       diploma and transcript from your Bachelor’s degree or equivalent

–       diploma and transcript from your Master’s degree or equivalent

–       diploma supplement for completed degrees

–       documentation of English language proficiency (see

–       two letters of reference

–       list of published works and a description of these

  • author(s), the work’s title
  • for articles: the journal’s name and volume, the first and last page of the article, year of publication
  • for other publications: publisher, printer, year of publication, number of pages

These supporting documents must be in English or a Scandinavian language and should be sent by April 30th directly to:

PhD Position: Agri/Cultures Project, GenØk – Centre for Biosafety, Forskningsparken, PB 6418, 9294 Tromsø, Norway


For further information about the position, please contact Dr. Fern Wickson


Telephone +47 77623137.