Research Professor in ‘City Science’ (BOFZAP)

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We are looking for international and interdisciplinary candidates with a background in city science/urban studies, an excellent research record, very good teaching skills, and the know-how to build an innovative center of academic research.
You will be appointed at the Faculty of Social Sciences, but are expected to develop partnerships with various faculties at KU Leuven.

More information here

More than half of the world’s population lives in cities; it is predicted that in the coming decades this will rise to 70-80%. ‘Sustainable cities and communities’ is part of the official UN Sustainable Development agenda; SDG11 aims to “Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”.

Cities play a crucial role in the future organization of our society. The American political scientist Benjamin Barber predicts in ‘If mayors ruled the world’ (2013) that nation states will lose more and more power to cities, because cities often have a more pragmatic, problem-solving scale and approach, and technology and globalization tend to dismantle the power of the nation-state (Ballon, 2016). Cities therefore take the lead in many areas (such as climate and migration issues), supported by new and influential networks (cf. Eurocites; Covenant of mayors for climate and energy). At the same time, urban renewal is also strongly driven by grassroots initiatives.

Central to thinking about the city of the future (see Anthopoulos, 2015; Giffinger et al, 2007; Chourabi et al 2012; David, 2016) are :
– Governance and government; e.g. the collaborative role of city governments in creating economically viable and safe towns and cities;
– Society and community; e.g. the formation of an inclusive city with a range of quality education, health and welfare services for various population groups;
– The environment and natural resources;
– Urban development, mobility and infrastructure.

In order for modern cities to flourish, innovative solutions are needed. In the literature, the concept of ‘smart cities’ tends to be used for this purpose, predominantly referring to the technological dimension. However, technology is not an end in itself, but a means of creating the city of the future.

This requires a focus on the social, political and cultural processes in which technology is implemented. In the urban studies of the past decade, this is reflected in the exploration of, for example, the city as a ‘learning machine’, processes of multi-scale and polycentric infrastructure, and the physical and digital materiality of various forms of urban, civic or spatial governmentality.

This vacancy can be regarded part of a growing trend of top universities (including MIT) to focus on the study of the city and thus enable an interdisciplinary approach to urban problems, based on a thorough and high-quality research strategy. The focus is not so much on megacities, but on large and medium-sized cities, as well as on the relationship between the city and rural areas.


You are an excellent, internationally oriented researcher in the field of city science/urban studies, interested in theoretical and/or methodological questions concerning urban problems. Preferably, the focus of the research lies with central themes, such as governance and government, society and community, environment and natural resources, urban development and infrastructure. Rather than a purely technological approach, we expect an approach based on social and behavioral sciences, with an emphasis on institutional, social, and ethical dimensions.
You will explore new methodologies for researching urban problems, such as living labs/city labs and action research.
You are expected to strengthen relevant research networks within KU Leuven and to position KU Leuven as a center of excellence in this field, following the example of high quality universities worldwide.
You are responsible for starting up new research and PhD projects, as well as for acquiring external funding.
You have a strong interest in fundamental research, but also pay attention to the valorization and application of your research through contacts with policy makers, business leaders, and civil society actors. You develop a network with professional contacts that add value to your research.

In line with your expertise and research, you will contribute to the educational programs of the Faculty of Social Sciences as well as of other faculties.
You will supervise master’s theses as a promoter and in this way inspire and motivate future generations of students with the importance of city science/urban studies.
Valorization of research results is done by contributing to various forms of lifelong learning, e.g. postgraduate courses, open courses, or conferences.

You will develop a strategy for the establishment of an International Knowledge Centre for the study of cities at KU Leuven. This knowledge center can count on start-up funding from KU Leuven and patronage funds, but will also be largely self-sufficient by attracting external funding.
The candidate will, in this respect, set up an interfaculty knowledge center within the Humanities and Social Sciences group and, by extension the university.

You have a PhD in a relevant research area, preferably with a background in one of the Social Sciences (e.g. public administration; political science; sociology; communication sciences; anthropology; social geography;…). The high quality of your research is demonstrated by publications in leading international journals, edited volumes or monographs.
You have a track record of acquiring competitive research grants. International experience is an important advantage.
You have demonstrated skills related to academic teaching.
You have organizational skills and a cooperative attitude.
You have leadership skills within a university context and worldwide academic networks.

The official administrative language used at KU Leuven is Dutch. If you do not speak Dutch (or do not speak it well) at the start of employment, KU Leuven will provide language training to enable you to take part in administrative meetings.
Before teaching courses in Dutch or English, you will be given the opportunity to learn Dutch respectively English to the required standard.
We are offering a fulltime employment in an intellectually challenging environment. KU Leuven is a research-intensive, internationally oriented university that carries out both fundamental and applied scientific research. It is highly inter- and multidisciplinarily focused and strives for international excellence. In this regard, it actively works together with research partners in Belgium and abroad. It provides its students with an academic education that is based on high-quality scientific research.
You will work in Leuven, a historic, dynamic and lively city located in the heart of Belgium, within 20 minutes from Brussels, the capital of the European Union, and less than two hours from Paris, London and Amsterdam.
Depending on your record and qualifications, you will be appointed to or tenured in one of the ranks of the professorial academic staff: assistant professor, associate professor, professor or full professor. In principle, junior researchers are appointed as assistant professor on the tenure track for a period of 5 years; after this period and a positive evaluation, they are permanently appointed (or tenured) as an associate professor..
For more information please contact Prof. dr. Steven Eggermont, academic contact person (email:, tel. +32 16 32 32 38).
For more information on guidelines and application procedure please contact Mrs. Kristin Vermeylen ( , tel. +32 16 32 09 07) or Mrs. Christelle Maeyaert ( , tel. +32 16 31 41 94).
More detailed information is available on following website
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at

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