PhD in Human-Environment Interactions in Floodplains since the 18th Century University of Leuven Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences Belgium




This is one of two interdisciplinary PhD positions within a project that aims at providing a long-term reconstruction of human-environment interactions in floodplains in Flanders. During this project the various direct and indirect human interventions in three case study floodplain sites will be mapped by combining an archaeological, historic and geographical analysis. The goal of this PhD is to analyse how human societies through time have responded towards changes in the floodplain environment, whereby particular attention will be paid to rural communities. The time-depth analysis of past human-environment interactions in floodplains will learn us 1) how the present-day cultural palimpsest landscape came about and to which time period specific landscape features can be traced back, but also 2) how resilient the use and management of floodplains has evolved through time. This should allow us to better manage and preserve our cultural heritage within floodplains and to better assess the robustness of floodplain use and sustainable management in future. Chronologically, this position will focus on the early modern and modern period, with a special focus on 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. The PhD-researcher will make use of a wide range of written sources, produced and formed by several actors, and includes among others census data, historical maps, images, official and private archival records, but also oral histories recorded through depth-interviews.


The interdisciplinary PhD in History & Geography will collaborate with an interdisciplinary PhD in Archaeology & Geography, and with a postdoctoral researcher in Geography, under the supervision of the three promoters of the project (Archaeology, Geography and History).


Applicants are expected to have the following qualifications and attitudes:

  • An MA in History or MSc in Geography, with demonstrable interest for and/or experience in the other discipline.
  • Collaborative attitude; ability to work independently; ability to contribute creatively to the project.
  • Skilled in academic writing, oral communication of research results, present research in international conferences and intermediate publications, strong analytical skills.


We offer:

  • A full-time PhD position for a period of 4 years. 
  • The fellow will receive a salary of approximately 2000 EUR/month (after taxes). 
  • S/he will receive all regular provisions for PhD fellows at KU Leuven, allocated office space, a PC or laptop and additional funding for research activities like attending conferences abroad.


The successful candidate may be asked to provide (limited)assistance with teaching, student supervision and data management.


Applications should include a cover letter, CV and the names of up to three referees. Interviews will be held with shortlisted candidates on 16-17 September. A decision will be communicated before the end of September.

For more information please contact Prof. dr. Gert Verstraeten, tel.: +32 16 32 64 11, mail: or Prof. dr. Yves Segers, tel.: +32 16 32 35 43, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than September 06, 2019 via the online application tool

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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