PhD position: “The United States’ Internal and External Contestation of Sustainability and/or Trade Norms”

The Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies and the Leuven International and European Studies research group search a dynamic and motivated full-time researcher to pursue a PhD in the context of an ambitious six-year interdisciplinary research programme on connectivity, contestation and cooperation in global governance (CONNECTIVITY).The PhD researcher will focus on the United States, including internal dynamics, external activities and their interaction. S/he will focus on sustainability and/or trade policy and politics. The exact focus will be identified jointly with the supervisor, Prof Dr Katja Biedenkopf. Possible focal areas are climate justice, carbon pricing and the Green New Deal.

Bringing together more than fifteen scholars from a diversity of disciplinary backgrounds in the humanities and social sciences, CONNECTIVITY offers a timely assessment of how differences between prominent states’ perceptions and translations of international norms impact upon cooperation in the international system. The programme’s ultimate ambition is to generate novel insights into how international cooperation may be best fostered amidst the crisis of the current global order. CONNECTIVITY aims to deliver (i) a fundamental rethinking of theories that are built on the assumption of globally-accepted values, including a critical reflection of current Western-centred conceptualisations of foreign policy and international law; (ii) new essential knowledge on the impact of different views on international law and international relations; and (iii) key insights aimed at finding new common ground to foster international cooperation.

The Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies is an interdisciplinary research centre of excellence at the University of Leuven which conducts research pertaining to globalization, governance processes and multilateralism ( The Leuven International and European Studies (LINES) research group includes researchers who are experts on various topics including European Union foreign policy, EU and United States external trade policies, climate and energy policy in Europe, North America and Asia and the regional and multilateral dimensions of global governance (


  • You pursue a PhD in political science/international relations.
  • You develop research expertise in the area of United States and international sustainability and/or trade policy and politics. The concrete research focus will be chosen in close consultation with your main supervisor.
  • You publish research results in academic journals.
  • You collaborate with other research centres and institutes within and outside KU Leuven.
  • You share your expertise and research results within and outside KU Leuven.
  • You pay attention to the valorisation of research results at the academic level or in society.
  • You take initiative, together with other colleagues, in order to make your research unit a dynamic research environment.
  • You are employed in a dynamic, international and growing research environment and contribute to its current and future research activities.


  • You have a Master’s degree.
  • You have a strong and demonstrated interest in political science/international relations, the United States, and sustainability/trade policy and politics.
  • You have excellent analytical and writing skills.
  • You have an inquisitive mind.
  • You have profound expertise and experience in applying qualitative methods. Mastery of quantitative methods is an asset.
  • You are able to organize your own research activities while working as part of a research group. You are able to handle various tasks at the same time while keeping strict deadlines.
  • You are enjoy working in a multicultural research project and have experience in collaborating in multicultural teams.
  • You are willing to travel and conduct field research outside of Belgium.
  • You master English in an excellent manner. Knowledge of other languages is an asset.
  • You have excellent study results (you must have graduated in the top 5% of your class).


We offer a full-time fixed-term contract to pursue a PhD (evaluation each year) starting as soon as possible in a dynamic, interdisciplinary and multicultural research environment.


Apply online. With your application please submit:

  • motivation letter
  • Transcript of marks (Master’s degree)
  • brief research proposal in the area of “the United States’ internal and external contestation of sustainability and/or trade norms” (max. 5 pages)

For more information please contact Prof Dr Katja Biedenkopf:

You can apply for this job no later than November 25, 2019 via the online application tool: