OPEN CALL: 3 PhD fellowships and 1 postdoctoral fellowship in Sociology at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

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GESF has had a long standing collaboration with the centre for  Globalization, Education and Social Policies research center (GEPS), based in the Sociology Department of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB). You might therefore be interested in their new research initiative led by Dr. Toni Verger – and specifically, three doctoral fellowships (to develop case studies in the Netherlands, Norway and Spain) and one postdoctoral fellowship in the context of Reforming Schools Globally: A Multi-Scalar Analysis of Autonomy and Accountability Policies in Education, a five-years research project funded by the European Research Council (IP Dr. Antoni Verger, StG-2015_680172 REFORMED).

1. Three PhD positions 

1.1. Responsibilities: In the context of the REFORMED project, the PhD fellows will develop tasks of data collection and will elaborate a PhD dissertation. Each PhD position is assigned to one of the following countries that are part of the project: the Netherlands, Norway and Spain.

The PhD fellows will be employed for 48 months, ideally starting on October the 1st 2016, and by the end of this period they will have to submit a PhD dissertation within the UAB Sociology Department PhD Programme. The dissertation will focus on one of the mentioned countries and on some of the project related themes (namely, accountability in education; teachers’ policies and evaluation; school autonomy; innovation in education; school competition; international organisations and education policy).

The research will involve 12 non-consecutive months of fieldwork in the Netherlands, Spain or Norway. The three PhD candidates will work together with other research fellows focusing on the cases of Brazil and Chile (who are already part of the project), one postdoctoral researcher and the IP. The fellows will use research methods from the social sciences for data collection, including interviews, focus groups and questionnaires, and will work towards understanding the adoption, constitution and effects of school autonomy with accountability policies in education in a sample of locations.

1.2. Qualifications: Applicants must be in possession of an undergraduate degree in Sociology, Political Sciences, Education Sciences, Anthropology or Economics, and a research master degree in a related field. They should 1) write and speak fluently in English; 2) demonstrate experience in fieldwork-based research; 3) have a strong training background in qualitative and quantitative methods; and 4) preferably credit some ability of independent thinking and writing through, for example, reports and peer-reviewed publications. Applicants with professional or research experience in the educational field and fluent local languages (Dutch, Norwegian or Spanish) will be given preference.

1.3. Applications: Applicants should submit: a) a curriculum vitae, b) one writing sample (article, paper, book chapter or similar), c) one motivation letter with, among other things, details regarding how the applicant meets the criteria for the position, d) a PhD project concept note (max. 1000 words), e) and the names and contact details of at two potential referees. Applications should be sent to the Sociology Department (d.sociologia@uab.cat) and to Dr. Antoni Verger (antoni.verger@uab.catbefore September the 7th, 2016. Skype or face-to-face interviews with pre-selected candidates will take place in the second week of September 2016.

2. One postdoctoral position

2.1. Responsibilities: In the context of the REFORMED project, the postdoctoral fellow will develop tasks of research design (with a focus on survey design), data collection and analysis, and scientific training of/support to the PhD candidates. The postdoctoral fellow will be employed for 30 months, starting on January the 1st of 2017.

2.2. Qualifications: Applicants must be in possession of a PhD in Sociology, Political Sciences, Education Sciences, Anthropology or Economics. He/she should 1) write and speak fluently in English; 2) be an expert in quantitative analysis and in the design of surveys; and 3) credit ability of independent thinking and writing.

2.3. Applications: Applicants should submit: a) a curriculum vitae, b) two writing samples (article, paper, book chapter or similar), c) a motivation letter with, among other things, details regarding how the applicant meets the criteria for the position, and d) one reference letter and the names and contact details of two other potential referees. Applications should be sent to the Sociology Department (d.sociologia@uab.cat) and to Dr. Antoni Verger (antoni.verger@uab.catbefore September the 30, 2016. Skype or face-to-face interviews with pre-selected candidates will take place in the beginning of October 2016. In the subject of the email, please specify the position: “Reformed application Postdoc”

3. About the project

Most countries in the world are facing reform pressures to make their education systems more effective, innovative and responsive to the new challenges generated by the global economy. In this scenario, managerial policy ideas such as school autonomy and accountability, which aim to modernize public education and strengthen its performance, are spreading broadly. To date, a wide range of countries with different administrative traditions and levels of development have adopted school autonomy with accountability (SAWA) policies, whilst the most active international organizations in the education sector, like the OECD, are strongly promoting these policies globally.

Constituting SAWA as a global model of education reform generates two main questions. First, why and how are SAWA policies disseminating globally, and to what extent does this reform model generate international policy convergence in education? Secondly, how and under what particular contextual and institutional circumstances do SAWA policies generate the expected results, and for whom? The fact that existing scholarly research has achieved inconclusive and mixed findings concerning the SAWA effects on learning outcomes and equity makes this second question especially relevant.

To address these questions, the REFORMED project will develop a comprehensive research approach that will scrutinize the different, but mutually constitutive stages of global education policy, from the inception in global agendas stage to their operationalization and effects in multiple contexts (with a focus on the Netherlands, Spain, Norway, Chile and Brazil). REFORMED will analyze how and why SAWA policies are being adopted and re-formulated by policy actors operating at different scales (from international bureaucrats to teachers), and will inquire into the institutional frameworks and policy enactment processes that explain the different effects of SAWA at the school level. A robust and multi-scalar methodological strategy that combines quantitative and qualitative methods will contribute to advancing such an innovative approach.

4. About GEPS-UAB
The Globalization, Education and Social Policies research center (GEPS) is one of the biggest research centers on education policy and comparative education in Europe. This interdisciplinary research center offers a vibrant environment for research and intellectual exchange through its monthly research seminars, and is located in Barcelona, one of the most welcoming cities for international students and researchers. GEPS-UAB hosts the Erasmus Plus European Master “Education Policies for Global Development”, a programme that is visited by prestigious lecturers in the comparative and international education field regularly. GEPS is part of the UAB Department of Sociology, a research intensive department offering high quality teaching in sociology at different levels, from undergraduate degrees to the PhD level. Its PhD programme in Sociology, which runs from year 1986, enjoys the “quality award” of the Spanish Ministry for Economy and Competitiveness since 2006.