Vacant positions

Postdoctoral fellowship under the Centre for Higher Education Futures 932887

3-year postdoctoral position, starting 1st of December 2017 or as soon as possible thereafter in 2017.

The Danish School of Education at Aarhus University invites applications for a 3-year post-doctoral fellowship. The postdoc. fellow will be located at the Department of Educational Anthropology at the Danish School of Education, Campus Copenhagen, specifically under the Centre for Higher Education Futures (CHEF).

The postdoc. fellowship is funded by the Aarhus University Research Foundation (AUFF) as part of a project led by Professor Susan Wright on ‘An Anthropology of Soft Diplomacy: Higher Education in Sino-Danish Partnerships’. Whereas most studies of joint campuses have focused on their pedagogies, curriculum and research collaborations, this project recognises the geopolitical dimension of higher education partnerships and their interface with international relations. China’s and Denmark’s strategies for moving into the global knowledge economy differ vastly, but are congenial in their mobilization of higher education institutions not only as knowledge producers but as important instruments of diplomacy and soft power.

The Postdoc. project
The main task of the postdoc. is to study ethnographically two joint campuses which have taken on multiple diplomatic missions and play pivotal roles in national strategies. One joint campus is located by Denmark in China (notably the Sino-Danish Centre in Beijing) and the other by China in Denmark or elsewhere, either as a Confucius Institute or as part of the ‘One Belt, One Road’ strategy. Using an ethnographic approach, the project will explore how the policies that guide the two joint campuses as instruments of soft power play out in their daily operations and how their diplomatic roles coordinate or collide with their function as educational institutions. The theoretical ambitions of the project are to extend the new field of ‘anthropology of policy’ (Shore and Wright 2011) to foreign policy, and to advance on existing paradigms of public and cultural diplomacy and soft power by developing a breakthrough concept and a process-oriented model of ‘soft diplomacy’.

Qualifications and Expertise
• Applicants must hold a PhD or document scientific qualification at a PhD level in anthropology or cultural studies
• Applicants must have extensive fieldwork experience, preferably in the fieldwork locations they identify in their project proposals.
• Applicants must have academic research experience on educational partnerships and preferably on other topics relevant to the post doc project.
• Applicants must have sufficient fluency in the relevant languages (including Chinese and English) to conduct fieldwork in the two sites.
• Applicants are expected to have made the necessary contacts in China and the other fieldwork site to be able to start the field study shortly after being appointed.
• Applicants should be interested in collaborative work and in contributing to the development of concepts, theories and methods related to the overall theme of an anthropology of foreign policy and soft diplomacy.
• The postdoctoral fellow is expected to play a role in developing CHEF’s activities and the applicants must display good networking skills, and have experience in initiating and organising discussions, conferences and other events.
• The postdoctoral fellow will be expected regularly to exchange knowledge with various sectors of society and to contribute actively to the general public debate in areas related to the academic findings of the project. The position does not involve teaching.

The applicant should be in Denmark for periods when not doing fieldwork.

Research proposal
The application must include a 5-page proposal for a postdoctoral research project that will meet the above objectives and which is grounded in the relevant research literature. The proposal must include a tentative plan for the fieldwork. The proposal should also indicate how the applicant will actively contribute to building up this research field within CHEF and internationally (including plans for collaboration e.g. though stays abroad and the creation of networks and collaborations between CHEF and other institutions, and ambitions for impact, e.g.  through conference organising, policy discussions and publications). The application must be submitted in English.

Research Environment
The School of Education at Aarhus University is the largest centre for research and teaching in the fields of education, didactics and learning in Denmark, with approximately 250 full-time researchers, including 80 PhD students, and approximately 5000 Bachelor's and Master's degree students. The department of educational anthropology has 21 researchers, 20 PhDs and postdocs and offers masters programmes in Danish and English. The Centre for Higher Education Futures (CHEF) brings together 70 researchers at Aarhus University and a wide network of international researchers and research centres.  It focuses on the changing mandate and position of higher education institutions in the world; universities’ organisation and inner life, and the practical implications of our critical research for building future universities. Both the school’s and CHEF’s activities are characterized by a high degree of inter-disciplinarity and close interaction with society, including businesses, organisations, government agencies and institutions, both in Denmark and abroad.

Further information
For further information please contact Susan Wright

The Danish School of Education is located in Copenhagen, see more at

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Qualification requirements

Applicants should hold a PhD or equivalent academic qualifications.


All interested candidates are encouraged to apply, regardless of their personal background.


All applications must be made online and received by:

Please apply online here

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