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3 PhD positions: Constructing Transnational Spaces of Higher Education

8 February 2018 , application deadline

The Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space (IRS) in Erkner (near Berlin) is offering three PhD positions in an international Junior Research Group “Constructing Transnational Spaces of Higher Education”.

The positions enable the successful applicants to conduct research on the geographies of globalisation of higher education and develop and realise their doctoral dissertations. The Junior Re- search Group is sub-divided into three interrelated sub-projects each of which employs one doctoral researcher. The researchers will be able to conduct fieldwork abroad (depending on the sub-project either in Europe, Southeast Asia and/or the Gulf States), spend short-term stays at the partner univer- sities abroad, and attend international conferences and workshops. The positions are for three years each and paid according to TV-L 13 (65 %) of the federal German pay scale (currently approx. 29.000 - 32.000 Euro per annum depending on previous working experience). 

About the project:

The Junior Research Group “Constructing Transnational Spaces of Higher Education: International Branch Campus Development at the Interface of Network and Territorial Embeddedness” is funded by the Leibniz Association (Leibniz Competition 2018). The project is led by Dr. Jana Kleibert in the “Dy- namics of Economic Spaces” research department at the IRS, in collaboration with the Geography De- partment of the Humboldt University of Berlin, the Cosmopolis Centre for Urban Research at the Vrije Universiteit Brussels (Prof. Bas van Heur), and the Department of Geography at the National University of Singapore (Prof. Neil Coe). It seeks to critically investigate the globalisation of higher education, specifically the rise of foreign university branch campuses as both embedded relationally (as part of networks) and territorially (in places).

Please specify in your application to which of the research projects you would like to apply:

PhD Project #1: Universities as transnationalising networks of education

This project investigates European universities’ rationales to invest abroad and construct multi- locational universities, focusing on the drivers (e.g. neoliberalisation, financialisation, increasing re- strictions on foreign student visas), strategies, and tools (e.g. rankings) of the marketisation of interna- tional higher education.

PhD Project #2: Transnational spaces of education for urban/economic development

This project investigates the rise of individual branch campuses and entire foreign ‘education cities’ from the perspective of select host countries (in Southeast Asia and/or the Middle East). We will ana- lyse to what extent transnational campuses become territorially embedded and comparatively evalu- ate their role in economic and urban development strategies and realities (e.g. smart cities, specula- tive urbanism, building knowledge economies).

PhD Project #3: Inside transnational spaces of education

This project investigates the workings of branch campuses or ‘education cities’ (in Southeast Asia and/or the Middle East) and seeks to understand how they assemble transnational flows of capital, people (transnational mobilities of students and staff), and knowledges. We will unpack how knowledge and the value of ‘global degrees’ is constructed in and through branch campuses. 

What we are looking for in the ideal candidate:

  • Excellent Master’s degree in human geography (especially economic geography or urban geog- raphy) or related disciplines (including political sciences, sociology, anthropology, ...),

  • Knowledge of (qualitative) social scientific research methods;

  • Keen interest and motivation to explore aspects of the geographies of globalisation of higher

    education, and willingness to conduct fieldwork abroad;

  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team;

  • Excellent written and spoken English, German language skills advantageous, other languageskills highly appreciated.

Application procedure:

If you are interested, please send a letter of motivation, curriculum vitae, copies of relevant diplomas, a writing sample (20 pages max., e.g. chapter of your Master’s thesis), and contact details of two ref- erences in a single pdf file (max. 2 MB) by e-mail to with the subject title “Transnational Education”, the reference number 1118 and an indication of the number of the sub- project (#1-3). You can submit your application in English or German. Shortlisted candidates will be asked to submit a short exposé.

The IRS is committed to the principle of equality of opportunities. Female applicants are especially encouraged to apply. Severely disabled applicants with equivalent qualifications and aptitude will be given preferential consideration. The IRS supports the compatibility of career and family and was certi- fied as a family-oriented employer in 2015.

Application deadline: 8 February 2018.
Starting date: 1 April 2018.
Informal inquiries about this position can be directed to Dr. Jana Kleibert: