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Post-Doctoral Researcher

Politics and International Relations

Location:  Egham
Salary:  £35,333 to £41,743 per annum - including London Allowance
Closing Date:  Wednesday 27 February 2019
Reference:  0119-026

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council of the UK, as part of their Trust, Identity, Privacy, and Security Research Programme, has funded a consortium of political scientists, computers scientists, and information security scholars to examine the interfaces between public policy and marginalised and underserved populations as state services undergo automation and ‘datafication’. 

In particular, we want to understand the three-way interactions between public policies and institutions, marginalised communities, and the digital infrastructure that shapes those interactions. We are interested in identifying the collisions between different systems (state bureaucracies, laws, and policies, digital systems, and informal networks) and the emergent workaround strategies adopted by these populations themselves. Such scenarios can result in suboptimal outcomes for all concerned, neither delivering the government’s intended policy outcomes, nor empowering these communities. Failing to identify such breakdown points created by seemingly-innocuous bureaucratic decisions generate insecurity and dysfunction which become embedded and entrenched in the institutional and data architecture set up to manage these complex issues.

We are seeking to appoint a post-doctoral researcher who will work with Will Jones at the Department of Politics and Lizzie Coles-Kemp at the Information Security Group, who will be pursuing these questions with respect to refugees and asylum seekers in at least the UK, Sweden, Denmark (and potentially elsewhere). This project builds on Will Jones’ previous work on designing refugee resettlement systems which empower and serve both refugees and the communities which host them, and Lizzie Coles-Kemp’s work on the everyday security practices of recently-arrived asylum seekers.

This project is genuinely interdisciplinary and so we could envisage appointing an individual happy to work across interdisciplinary boundaries. You absolutely do not need to be a computer scientist. However, potential candidates could have prior expertise or a desire to work further on:

  • Public Policy, in particular European politics and the design of welfare systems, including critical perspectives which seeks to understand the complex clash between official policy formation processes and the coping strategies adopted in response by communities on the ground

  • Refugees, asylum-seekers, those in refugee-like situations, or marginalised communities more generally.

  • Market-design, in particular applied work seeking to import insights from this growing field of micro-economics into empirically-rich work on how to make public services work better

  • Digital government, in particular the increasing use of algorithmic decision-making and automation in government services which interact with vulnerable communities

Obviously, this is quite a broad set of interests and we anticipate there will be many excellent candidates who do not already work in all these areas. However, any candidate should be able to demonstrate prior evidence of good writing skills, good field work skills, and an interest in working towards progressive pragmatic improvement of the lives of marginalised communities.

The fellowship will be based at our main campus in Egham, London. However, this will include extensive fieldwork in at least the UK, Sweden, and Denmark, and so you will have to be someone who is ok with potentially spending extended periods of time away from home. We are not requiring any fluency with relevant languages, although that would be welcome. It is likely that the first languages of asylum seekers themselves (particularly Arabic and Pashtu) will open more doors than Danish or Swedish.

This work is driven by a desire for actual impact, so intended outputs will include academic papers, but also public policy reports and a broader set of outputs (we will seek to produce videos, booklets, and other products which can be easily consumed by various user communities including refugees themselves, government, and civil society actors).

Please feel free to contact Lizzie and Will for more information.

Lizzie Coles-Kemp                                                       Will Jones

Professor in Information Security                       Lecturer in International Relations

lizzie.coles-kemp@rhul.ac.uk                              will.jones@rhul.ac.uk


Please quote the reference: 0119-026

Closing Date: Midnight, 27 February 

Interview Date: To be confirmed

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The University is committed to equality and diversity, and encourages applications from all sections of the community.


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