Scholarship in Europe

PhD Scholarship ‘Legal foresight in relation to the data economy for food systems’ Brussels, Belgium

The Faculty of Law and Criminology, Department Metajuridica, is looking for a PhD-student with a doctoral grant.

More concretely your work package, for the preparation of a doctorate, contains:

The multidisciplinary Research Group on Law, Science, Technology & Society (LSTS), established in 2003, has become a prominent European research institute in the area of technology and regulation. The staff comprises more than 50 researchers: professors as well as senior and post- doctoral-, doctoral- and associated researchers. Research staff at the VUB-LSTS have background in a number of areas, including law, ethics, philosophy, political science, sociology, criminology and others. Great emphasis is placed on incorporating a multidisciplinary perspective in all their work.

The Brussels Laboratory for Data Protection & Privacy Impact Assessments, or d.pia.lab, is a sub-unit within the VUB-LSTS, established in 2015, which connects basic, methodological and applied research, provides training and delivers policy advice related to impact assessments in the areas of innovation and technology development. Whilst legal aspects of privacy and personal data protection constitute its core expertise, the Laboratory mobilizes other disciplines including ethics, philosophy, surveillance studies as well as science, technology and society (STS) studies.

The VUB-LSTS-d.pia.lab is now looking for a motivated doctoral researcher to join the team to work on a research project related to foresight techniques and stakeholder dialogues in the context of the European Union’s (EU) actions for improving the Data Economy for Food Systems (DE4FS), i.e. public policy decisions, supply chains, and individuals and groups that influence what we eat.

As part of your duties, you will work on the 4-year research project ‘Pathways towards a fair, inclusive and innovative Data Economy for Sustainable Food Systems’ or Data4food2030, funded by the EU’s Horizon Europe Framework Program. The objective of the project is to design principles and a clear roadmap towards fair, inclusive data spaces which support sustainable Food Systems in Europe. The project is coordinated by Stichting Wageningen Research and brings 24 partners having expertise in research, policy making, software developing companies and the food industry, representing 13 countries.

In particular, you are expected to work on developing stakeholder dialogues in which future scenarios will be assessed. Among others, part of this work is to conduct a “legal backcasting” exercise, which entails two stages. First, you will work “backwards” and connect the future scenarios identified with the current legislative issues, policy agendas and crucial legal design principles. Second, preliminary legal insights for policy recommendations will be provided by creating and assessing multiple “legislative pathways” for regulators and policy makers to reach desirable scenarios or avoid undesirable ones.

Besides the project, you will write an original doctoral thesis (PhD) in the area of law and technology. More specifically, you are expected to develop a research proposal for their doctoral thesis within the first year of employment.

Finally, apart from working on the project and the PhD dissertation, you will have the opportunity to:

  • participate in (international) seminars and conferences;
  • (co-)author scientific and professional articles in high-ranked journals;
  • Take part in the activities of the d.pia.lab;
  • contribute to drafting research project proposals for external funding.

You will be integrated in a dynamic team, composed of both experienced and early career researchers, working under the guidance of Prof. Dr. Niels van Dijk. You will collaborate closely with other members of the Brussels Laboratory for Data Protection & Privacy Impact Assessments (d.pia.lab), as well as other members of the VUB-LSTS,  and will have access to doctoral training offered by the VUB, as well as to all facilities of the University.

You are expected to work at the VUB premises in Brussels and remotely. Yet the position involves travelling – mostly in Europe – for research-related events. Office space and equipment will be provided along with a budget for travelling and other research‐related expenses.

For this function, our Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering Campus (Elsene) will serve as your home base.

3 – Profile

What do we expect from you?

You hold a master’s degree in law, possibly with a specialization in law and technology, data protection law, consumer law or environmental law; orin philosophy, social or political sciences, economics and science and technology studies, provided that the candidate has some experience in legal aspects of emerging technologies (e.g., through university courses, internships, jobs). 

  • You are expected to possess the following qualifications and skills:
    • fluency in written (academic) and spoken English;
    • excellent organizational and communicative skills;
    • the ability to work independently (either in premises or remotely), under pressure, respect deadlines, and produce quality work;
    • assertiveness, resilience and ability to “go against the flow” to pursue research goals.
  • It is considered a plus if you also have:
    • acquaintance with technology assessment methods, especially in their participatory forms, and of technology foresight;
    • experience with stakeholder engagement techniques, including e.g., interviews, focus groups or Delphi method;
    • a broad understanding of IT law, data protection law, consumer law and/or environmental law;
    • relevant working experience (including internships and traineeships), especially related to European Framework Programs (e.g. Horizon 2020, Horizon Europe).
  • You have not performed any works in the execution of a mandate as an assistant, paid from operating resources, over a total (cumulated) period of more than 12 months.

4 – Offer

Are you going to be our new colleague?

You’ll be offered a full-time PhD-scholarship, for 12 months (extendable up to max. 48 months, on condition of the positive evaluation of the PhD activities), with planned starting date 01/09/2022.

You’ll receive a grant linked to one of the scales set by the government.

IMPORTANT: The effective result of the doctorate scholarship is subject to the condition precedent of your enrolment as a doctorate student at the university.

At the VUB, you’re guaranteed an open, involved and diverse workplace where you are offered opportunities to (further) build on your career.

As well as this, you’ll enjoy various benefits:

  • Full reimbursement for your home-work commute with public transport according to VUB-policy, or compensation if you come by bike;
  • Cost-free hospitalisation insurance;
  • The space to form your job content and continuously learn via VUB LRN;
  • Excellent facilities for sport and exercise;
  • Ecocheques;
  • Delicious meals at attractive prices in our campus restaurants;
  • An open, family-friendly work environment where attention is paid to work-life balance, and exceptional holiday arrangements with 35 days of leave (based on a fulltime contract).

5 – Interested?

Is this the job you’ve been dreaming of?

Send us ONLINE and at the latest on 19/06/2022:

  • your CV;
  • your letter of motivation, which explains your qualifications (1 page), and includes a draft research proposal for a doctoral thesis (1 page);
  • a sample of your recent work: essay, excerpt from recent (academic) research, article, blog post or working paper (max. 5000 words);
  • one letter of recommendation;
  • the highest degree you’ve attained (not applicable for VUB alumni).

Do you have questions about the job content? Contact Simone Casiraghi or Maciej Otmianowski at or

It is currently envisioned that the successful candidates will be shortlisted by 24 June 2022, and interviews held between 4 and 15 July 2022.

Would you like to know what it’s like to work at the VUB? Go to and find all there is to know about our campuses, benefits, strategic goals and your future colleagues.

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