PhD fellowship River sand mining

(06-05-2020) PhD fellowship River sand mining collaboration Chr. Michelsen Institute and Conflict Research Group

The position

CMI is seeking a PhD candidate to conduct research in the framework of the following UTENRIKS research project, funded by the Research Council of Norway (RCN):

The political economy of river sand mining in South Asia: A commodity chain approach.

Sand is the world’s second most consumed resource after water. It is increasingly becoming scarce. The world is running out of sand as building booms consume ever greater quantities of the resource. Long thought to be an almost inexhaustible resource, the international community is slowly realizing that sand governance should be a key priority of governments across the globe. This is even more pertinent as it has been found that sand extraction can have highly negative environmental impacts.

This research project aims to understand the current governance of sand in three countries (Bangladesh, India and Nepal) in the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) River Basin. This Basin has been particularly affected by sand extraction and it is already highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The project combines qualitative fieldwork and a household survey. It will analyze the relations between power, capital, labor and livelihoods and look at both formal and informal forms of governance of sand extraction, transport and consumption. This research project aims not only to increase our knowledge of current governance practices, but provide the groundwork for devising both ecologically and socially sustainable sand policies.

The PhD candidate will be mainly responsible for the ethnographic case study in Nepal and will contribute to the Bangladesh case. Fieldwork can be challenging given the importance of illegal sand extraction in the case study area.

More information about the project is available here.

The fellowship is three years. The PhD candidate must have residence in Bergen during the fellowship.

The place of work will be CMI in Bergen, Norway, with extended stays at Ghent University, Belgium, and extended fieldwork in Nepal and Bangladesh. The candidate will join the PhD program at the Department of Conflict and Development Studies, Ghent University, where s/he will be supervised by Professor Bert Suykens. 


  • Master in social science which demonstrate familiarity with qualitative research methods. Experience with ethnographic research methodologies is an asset.
  • Good writing and communication skills.
  • Ability to work both independently and in teams.
  • Innovative and creative.

English is the working language of the project and at CMI, and candidates must be proficient in English. Fieldwork experience from South-Asia will be highly valued, as will knowledge of local languages.

The successful candidate must be admitted to the Ghent University doctoral program within the first six months of the fellowship.

The project will start August 1, 2020 and end July 31, 2023. 

CMI offers

  • The opportunity to be part of the leading multidisciplinary development research institute in Scandinavia.
  • A stimulating work environment.
  • Salary according to CMI’s pay scale, starting at NOK 480,000 per year.
  • Excellent pension and insurance schemes.

How to apply

We only accept applications via Jobbnorge.

Please submit the following:

  • A short (max 3 pages) letter of motivation explaining why you apply for the PhD. The letter should also describe aspects of your educational background and experience that would be of value for the project.
  • CV including list of publications.
  • Names and contact details of two references.
  • Copies of grade certificates.
  • An electronic copy of your MA thesis.

Deadline for application is May 31, 2020. 

For further information on the position please contact:

Professor Bert Suykens:

Senior Researcher Magnus Hatlebakk: