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Professor of Geography Education (1.0 FTE)

Job description

Utrecht University seeks to appoint a new Professor with expertise in the field of Geographical Education Research. The Professor will (further) develop the field of Geography Education Research (GER), by


  • contributing to international academic research and debate around questions of the value, nature and purpose of geography education in this day and age;
  • creating opportunities, stimulating initiatives and developing evidence-based innovations to strengthen the educational programmes of the faculty, especially in the Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, in the context of a research university and changing educational settings;
  • advancing the cooperation between the academic geography domain and the teacher education programmes of the Graduate School of Teaching, in order to strengthen the geography teacher education programmes (pre- and in-service) in Utrecht, and – for the school geography community in the Netherlands - in the development of the school curriculum.


The Professor will be embedded in the Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning. The department has developed the challenging research programme ‘Urban Futures: Transitions towards Economic and Social Sustainable Cities’. In this programme, scholars from different sub disciplines in Human Geography and Planning work closely together on two main research themes: ‘Economic Urban Transitions’ and ‘Social Urban Transitions’. Several interrelated topics are studied: urban economic resilience, networks and flows in and between urban regions, healthy urban living, urban inequalities and diversities, transnational mobility’s, and smart urban governance. The department wishes her scientific knowledge to disseminate her educational programmes. Furthermore the department wants to play an important role in defining the content and practice of teaching in secondary education. To achieve these goals the department has installed a research group with a focus on Geography Education, the ‘Education and Education Innovation’ group. The Professor will be heading this group.


The Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning offers a generic undergraduate programme in Human Geography and Planning and several specialised graduate programmes in the fields of economic and urban geography, GIS, spatial planning and international development studies. In the coming years, the chair will fulfil a specific role in the development and innovation of the undergraduate degree programme. The rapidly changing landscape of higher education, academic knowledge creation (in geography), and wider society raises specific questions about the design, relevance, and attractiveness of the programme. How to strengthen a futures perspective and a focus on (urban) social, economic and environmental sustainability issues throughout the programme? How to provide students with opportunities for personal development and to increase their abilities to reflect on the role of geography in shaping socio-environmental debates? What should be the core of geographical knowledge in such an undergraduate programme? Could the programme be strengthened through the development of new integrative place-based courses? The holder of the chair will use state-of-the-art insights in geographical learning and teaching for the design and implementation of curricular projects and teaching and learning innovations in the faculty's educational programmes. These insights are related to questions of pedagogy, such as inquiry-based learning, blended learning and learning by means of geospatial technologies.


The new Professor will also develop a research agenda for secondary geography education, based on the three themes – place based education, sustainable development and powerful knowledge. Relevant topics are: what should we teach (curriculum), how do we use technology in teaching, how does education contribute to citizenship competences and how to use the environment (of the school) as a learning opportunity? There must be a critical evaluation of the content and development of the school curriculum in the form of research and development projects conducted jointly with the domain of education. The new Professor will explore and exploit these opportunities. National and international collaboration will be explored in order to build research and design capacity involving colleagues, master students, PhD students and post docs.


Besides playing an important role in defining the curriculum in secondary education we see a responsibility for the new Professor in providing geography teachers in secondary schools with opportunities for in-service and continuing education. Postgraduate courses help geography teachers to become informed about new developments in the geosciences as well as in discipline-specific pedagogies and techniques. Utrecht University has always offered a consistent and substantial course programme for geography teachers. The challenge ahead is to keep this tradition alive and to innovate postgraduate teacher education in line with new developments in the geosciences and in (secondary) education.


Last but not least Utrecht University wishes to strengthen the link between the teacher education programmes and the academic domains. This creates opportunities to enhance the quality of their teacher education and to link these more closely to the national policy objectives for teacher education programmes. The faculties whose domains cover the subjects of the secondary school curriculum have agreed that each will make one of their professors responsible for the academic quality and coherence of their teacher education programmes. To succeed, it is necessary to create networks of practitioners (including schools and the field of continuing education) as well as mobilizing faculty-wide involvement in teaching and the education of teachers. The holder of the Geography Education chair will fulfil this role for the Faculty of Geosciences. Being the largest Faculty of Geosciences in the Netherlands, the faculty has a special commitment in this respect.


The research will be 40% of the assignment; teaching 20 to 40% and management tasks also 20 to 40%.


We are looking for a candidate who has:


  • an excellent track record in university teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate level;
  • proven educational leadership in different settings (for example: academia, university of applied sciences, secondary education);
  • proven expertise in the domain of Geography Education Research, as demonstrated by a (inter)national publication record;
  • successful experience in the acquisition of (inter)national research funding for educational projects and programmes;
  • a track record of collaboration in national and international networks and organisations in the domain of geography education;
  • experience in supervising PhD students;
  • experience in running a research group;
  • clear and proven interest in societal problems and ambitions to engage in education and research interactions related to topics in Human Geography, such as Globalization, Mobilities, Sustainability.
  • strong ability to communicate with the non-academic world (politics, public administration, societal organizations).
  • willingness to function as Director of Education in the (near) future;
  • and is prepared to acquire knowledge of the Dutch language.


The professorship is initially for five years. The position is to be taken up on September 1, 2017 or as soon as possible thereafter. If the successful candidate has already held a full professorship or if she/he has successfully completed a tenure track, she/he may be eligible for a permanent, full-time appointment. In other cases the appointment will initially be for a period of five years, convertible into a permanent position in case of satisfactory performance.

The gross monthly salary ranges from €5,260 and  €7,659 (scale: HGL2) commensurate with qualifications and experience. These amounts are based on a full-time appointment and are in conformity with current salary scale H2 under the Collective Labour Agreement (CAO) for Dutch Universities. The salary is supplemented by a holiday allowance of 8% per year and a year-end bonus of 8.3%. We offer a pension scheme, collective insurance schemes and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). Facilities for sports and childcare are available on our campus, which is only 15 minutes away from the historical city centre of Utrecht. For more information visit Working at Utrecht University.

About the organization

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

The city of Utrecht is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, with a charming old center and an internationally oriented culture that is strongly influenced by its century-old university. Utrecht city has been consistently ranked as one of the most livable cities in the Netherlands.


The Faculty of Geosciences at Utrecht University offers a unique environment to study societal challenge as it combines knowledge on energy efficiency, economics, energy policy, behavioral sciences, innovation systems, and knowledge on (sustainable) urban development.

The Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning has its focus on the enhancement of long-term economic developments of cities, how to cope with social inequalities and how to ensure a healthy urban living. The research programme of the department is the basis for our research Master's Human Geography and Geographical Information Management and Applications and professional Master's in Human Geography, International Development Studies and Spatial Planning. The department runs also a large and highly appreciated Bachelor's programme and is part of the Netherlands Graduate School of Urban and Regional Research for PhD candidates. Unique characteristics of the department are a special team focusing on innovations within teaching methods and a center of expertise which brings the knowledge from fundamental research outside our university by educational programmes for high school teachers and professional consultancy for public partners.

Utrecht University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.

Additional information

More detailed information on this position can be obtained from Prof. Pieter Hooimeijer, Head of Department: For the structural report you can e-mail Geertje Speelman at:


Applications should consist of a letter of motivation and a complete curriculum vitae including publication list. Applications will be considered by the selection committee in week commencing 31th May and shortlisted candidates will be invited to interview in June. A second interview will be planned shortly after the first interview round. Selection of and negotiations with the preferred candidate and final campus visits will take place thereafter.

The application deadline is
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