Postdoctoral Work Opportunity in Sustainability at the University of Waterloo

We seek a highly motivated postdoctoral fellow to help lead research in the following areas: the governance of sustainability transitions; community-led climate change initiatives at the intersection of adaptation/mitigation and broader SDGs; pathways to deep decarbonization; sustainability entrepreneurship.

Prof. Sarah Burch (University of Waterloo) leads an international partnership-based research project (TRANSFORM). TRANSFORM carries out transdisciplinary, community-engaged sustainability research, connecting hubs of research and practice in Canada, Australia, the USA, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands. Together, we explore the role of small businesses in triggering and accelerating sustainability transitions. We are working to build capacity for transformation in the small business community, while investigating and supporting governance processes that enable these transformations. This postdoctoral fellowship will directly support the TRANSFORM project, as well as related sustainability/climate change governance research in the SPROUT Lab.

In close collaboration with colleagues in each hub, the successful candidate will help to lead a team that will:

  1. Engage and support capacity building and experimentation work with small businesses to strengthen sustainability-enabling ecosystems.
  2. Coordinate Master’s and PhD students, including developing targeted engagement activities and research designs aimed at accelerating sustainability practice.
  3. Develop and strengthen knowledge translation and mobilization activities, tools, and strategies to share the results of TRANSFORM targeting public, private sector stakeholders, including academia, financial sector, government actors and practitioner audiences.
  4. Lead the design and production of rigorous and engaging peer-reviewed scholarly publications based on existing qualitative data collected by the TRANSFORM and SPROUT team.
  5. Expand our research agenda by exploring new avenues of research into the dynamics/governance sustainability transitions in different sectors, industries or geographies on the basis of the applicant’s research experience and interests.

The successful candidate will be responsible for leading these activities, including managing a small team of Master’s and PhD students and collaborating with a broader advisory group. They will be based at the University of Waterloo, in the Sustainability Policy Research and Urban Transformation (SPROUT) Lab. The candidate will have significant opportunities to develop networks and publish in the fields of sustainability transitions and environmental governance.


  • Ph.D. degree, field open, although candidate must have strong skills in empirical social scientific research related to the environment, in particular interview-based research and qualitative data analysis.
  • Extensive knowledge in some combination of: governance, sustainability, transformations/transitions, entrepreneurship, climate change mitigation and adaptation, comparative politics, and participatory processes.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills; fluency in English required.
  • Excellent organizational skills, including the demonstrated capacity to manage a team.
  • Proven ability (ie in progress or established track record) of rapidly and rigorous mobilizing data to craft excellent peer-reviewed publications.
  • Experience with interdisciplinary environmental research (e.g., incorporating philosophy, sociology, political science) or transdisciplinary research (e.g., working with diverse stakeholders to develop research outcomes of local relevance) would be valuable.
  • Ability to self-motivate and to work semi-independently on a research project through to publication (evidenced in letters of reference and by publication record).
  • Ability to commit to the project for a period of at least 2 years.

Anticipated salary is $67,000/annum (plus reasonable research/dissemination expenses). The position is for a 2-year term. Future travel opportunities exist in order to carry out fieldwork and collaborate with colleagues within Canada, the U.S., Western Europe, and Australia. The candidate must be legally eligible to work in Canada.

Questions: For any questions relating to the post doctoral opportunity please reach out to Dr. Sarah Burch (

To apply: Potential students are encouraged to express interest in these positions by sending the following materials to Taginder Clair ( by July 2, 2024.

  • A letter of interest outlining your experience and fit for the position.
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Contact information for two academic references
  • Two recent publications that you feel are relevant to this position (i.e. methodologically, theoretically, etc.) For more information on the Faculty of Environment and the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Waterloo, see

More information about Dr. Sarah Burch can be found here: burch or here:

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