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Fighting for e/quality: Comparative ethnographies of new student movements - PhD subproject 2: UK (e.g. Goldsmith or UCL), 5+3, 2019-11

PhD fellowship (5+3) in the field of Fighting for e/quality: Comparative ethnographies of new student movements - PhD subproject 2: UK (e.g. Goldsmith or UCL)

The Graduate School at Arts, Faculty of Arts, Aarhus University, in collaboration with the Independent Research Fund Denmark, invites applications for a fully-funded PhD fellowship in Fighting for e/quality: Comparative ethnographies of new student movements provided the necessary funding is available. This PhD fellowship is available as of 1 January 2020 for a period of up to three years (5+3). The candidate who is awarded the fellowship must commence his/her PhD degree programme on 1 January 2020.  

The PhD fellowship will be financed by the 2 parties.

Over the past 5 years, proliferation of social justice-oriented student movements in the USA and the UK has forcefully re-directed debates on the quality of public higher education (HE) towards questions of equality, diversity and/or decolonisation. Students are protesting the reproduction of hierarchies of knowledge within HE, based on gender, race, nationality, and research traditions. Among other, they argue that HE should be a ‘safe space’ without discrimination and ‘hate speech’; they advocate the use of ‘trigger warnings’ in class, ‘no-platform’ speakers, whose messages they perceive to be offensive; and – inspired by South African student movements – they work to ‘decolonise’ HE, criticising the dominance of certain (white, male, western) knowledge traditions.

Aiming to investigate these tendencies, the overall project consists of two PhD subprojects (focusing on the USA and the UK, respectively) and the PI who focuses on Denmark and South Africa.

PhD Subproject 2 is to do ethnographic fieldwork at a public university in the UK.

Relevant sites could be Goldsmiths, University of London where there has been widespread activism in relation to institutional racism, and safe spaces/free speech or University College London (UCL) where debates on decolonisation have been central. The PhD fellow will make the final decision on their own fieldwork site.

The overall project is grounded in social anthropology and aims to develop a fine-grained conceptualisation of how knowledge and power are re-shaped through the interconnectivity of different spatialities (i.e. how places, activist networks and socio-spatial positionalities co-implicate each other in new ways). In doing so, it also draws on Jacques Rancière’s thinking on political action, equality and the nature of the common or public good. The proposed PhD project does not have to adopt the exact same framework but it needs to resonate with it. In addition to social anthropology, applicants can also have academic degrees in cognate disciplines, including e.g. human geography, educational science, social movement studies, sociology.

Please contact the PI for the overall project proposal.

The PhD student must complete the studies in accordance with the valid regulations for the PhD degree programme, currently the Ministerial Order of 27 August 2013 on the PhD degree programme at the universities: http://phd.arts.au.dk/applicants/thephddegreeprogramme/

Description of the graduate school’s PhD degree programme: http://phd.arts.au.dk/applicants/phdstudystructure/

Rules and regulations for the PhD degree programme at the Graduate School at Arts: http://phd.arts.au.dk/applicants/thephddegreeprogramme/  

The PhD fellow will be enrolled as a PhD student at the Graduate School at Arts, Faculty of Arts, Aarhus University, with the aim of completing a PhD degree at the Danish School of Education, Aarhus University.

The PhD student will be affiliated with the PhD programme Learning and Education.

The PhD student’s place of work will be the Danish School of Education, Aarhus University. In general, the student is expected to be present at the school on an everyday basis.

The PhD degree programme is expected to include a lengthy research stay at a foreign institution, cf. Description of the graduate school’s PhD degree programme.

Danish School of Education’s research programme:


5+3 programme

When you apply for a 3-year PhD fellowship (5+3), you must have completed your two year Master’s degree (120 ECTS) no later than 31 December 2019. 

The PhD fellow will be employed as a PhD student at the Faculty of Arts, Aarhus University. The terms of employment are in accordance with the agreement between the Danish Ministry of Finance and the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations (see section 6.1.4), as well as with the protocol to the agreement covering staff with university degrees in the state sector (see enclosure 5). The agreement and the protocol including amendments are available online: http://phd.arts.au.dk/applicants/thephddegreeprogramme/

Salary: http://phd.arts.au.dk/financing/salary-and-employment/salary-5-3/


If you require professional guidance regarding your application for the PhD fellowship please contact the PhD programme director at Learning and Education:  http://phd.arts.au.dk/about-us/contact/

For further information, please contact Associate Professor Gritt B. Nielsen, Danish School of Education, gbn@edu.au.dk, Phone + 45 8716 3897.

The application must be submitted in English.

All applicants must document English language qualifications comparable to an 'English B level' in the Danish upper secondary school ('gymnasium'). Please see this page for further information: http://phd.arts.au.dk/applicants/english-test/  

Applications for the PhD fellowship and enrolment in the PhD degree programme can only be submitted via Aarhus University’s web-based facility.

Guidelines for the application facility: http://phd.arts.au.dk/applicants/how-to-apply/


Deadline for applications: 1 October 2019 at 23.59 Danish time (CET/CETS).
Reference number: 2019-11

During the assessments, Aarhus University can conduct interviews with selected applicants.