PhD position, sustainability of soybean value chains

Updated: about 1 hour ago
Job Type: Permanent

In der aktuellen Covid-19 Situation laufen die Rekrutierungen weiter. Es kann dabei allerdings zu Verzögerungen kommen. Vielen Dank für Ihr Verständnis.


100%, Zurich, fixed-term

The Department of Environmental Systems Science (D-​USYS) at ETH Zurich conducts research and offers studies into the condition and functions of environmental systems. It develops solutions and methods for managing them on a sustainable basis. The Agroecological Transitions group applies concepts of sustainability and justice to the design and management of sustainable food systems.


Project background

The SNSF-funded project Does food democracy matter? Linking the deliberative quality of soy and coffee value chains to ecological “foodprints” (DELIBERATE) focuses on the question to what extent varying degrees of deliberation in the governance of agri-food value chains result in reduced ecological impacts. DELIBERATE investigates two globally relevant commodities with high social-ecological impacts: soybeans – linked to animal-based (e.g. meat, dairy) and non-animal-based food products (e.g. edible oil) – and coffee. The general aim is to understand whether and how the deliberative quality in agri-food value chains affects their ecological foodprints and power asymmetries among their key actors. Fieldwork takes place in Brazil and the Democratic Republic of Congo (although a stronger focus on one of these countries is possible). Research collaborations, field research, as well as workshops in these two countries are an essential component of the project and the PhD study.


Job description

This PhD study focuses on the ecological “foodprint” of soybeans from production to consumption conducting life cycle assessments along different soybean-based value chains. Parameters to investigate are land and resource use, deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, and waste disposal/nutrient recycling from production to consumption and beyond. The research will involve participatory research methods such as interviews and participant observation. The PhD candidate will work with databases such as Ecoinvent (www.ecoinvent.org ), and LCA programmes such as SimaPro (www.simapro.com ), and conduct fieldwork both in the team and independently. Field work will take place mostly in Brazil, but to a certain degree also in Congo. The research will be part of the group “Agroecological Transitions” and located at the Institute of Agricultural Sciences.

Start: January 2022

Duration: 4 years (100%)


Your profile

An excellent background in environmental sciences, agronomy, agricultural geography or a related field, working experience in Africa and/or South America, interest in sustainability and fairness in food and agricultural systems, and the willingness to travel are indispensable. Excellent oral and written English is necessary. Speaking Portuguese is a plus, as well as experiences in international research and/or sustainable development projects, with life cycle assessments or aspects thereof.


ETH Zurich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.

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