Phd research fellow Mapping Critical Futures

Deadline: 01.03.2024

Oslo School of Architecture and Design

The Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO) is a specialized university and a leading international architecture and design school that provides education within architecture, landscape architecture, urbanism and design. AHOs fields of knowledge focus on design in all scales; objects, buildings, urban areas and landscaping. AHO is organized into four institutes, and has approx. 700 students and 145 employees.

The Institute of Urbanism and Landscape has a multi-disciplinary approach to education and research within the fields of urbanism and landscape architecture. Particular attention is paid to understanding change and transformation of cities and territories and to developing knowledge in order to enable strategy development and support design interventions in urban situations and landscapes. The institute has a strong international profile, with a well-established network of partner institutions within practice, teaching and research. Education activities comprise the MA in Architecture, MA in Landscape Architecture, MA in Urbanism as well as AHO’s PhD programme.

About the position

The Institute of Urbanism and Landscape calls for a 3 year PhD project on Mapping Critical Futures. This call seeks a candidate to develop innovative and radical mapping strategies and cartographic tools for ecologically and politically exposed territories. Of particular interest are territories in the Arctic and/or the Global South that have been subjected to colonial processes and climate changes. These forces affect populations’ ways of life, their access to land and living environments, including operative ecosystems and/or freshwater; territories that are critically exposed to future changes.

Landscape architecture at AHO

The focus of the Institute of Urbanism and Landscape is the built environment, with a particular focus on landscape architecture, urbanism, and spatial planning. The institute takes a broad and cross-disciplinary approach to these fields, and both landscape architecture and urbanism are regarded as independent disciplines while drawing on each other. The institute has a strong international profile, with a well-established network of partner institutions within practice, teaching, and research. Our International Master in Landscape Architecture responds to the need to focus on the relationship between landscape and contemporary urban and planning issues. The 5-year integrated Master in Landscape Architecture is a collaboration with UiT - The Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø and focuses on Northern and Arctic landscapes. Educational programs at the institute also include Master of Architecture and the Executive Master in Urbanism. The institute contributes to the school’s PhD program.

PhD call: Mapping Critical Futures

Over the last decades, the discipline of landscape architecture has developed a broad and advanced GIS and digital-based culture for mapping urban situations, complex rural expanses and, in some cases, territories at a regional scale. Despite advances in digital mapping, cartography still relies on static, two-dimensional projections that limit our ability to present and analyze temporal complexity. How can we document the rapid and critical changes and successions in ecologies, the transient challenges of migrating peoples and the voids in our knowledge of the current situations on the ground? This call reflects that we need to develop cartographic methods that can capture the full value of any given site and its human and more-than-human inhabitants, in order to develop differentiated, participatory strategies for caretaking and governance of territories, the different lifeforms within them, and their futures. This places the PhD project at the core of spatial and societal planning.

Cartography has been among the interdisciplinary methodologies central to solving classical landscape architectural problems. But many of these problems related to territories, colonialism, ecologies, and temporality are becoming critical and so-called wicked problems, challenges that cannot be solved within one field alone. In this call, we want to direct cartography towards urbanism but also towards other areas of humanistic research as a trans-disciplinary method for rapidly evolving problems. In the meeting between fields such as landscape and urbanism and the wider field of environmental humanities, as well as ecology, there is a significant overlap in the need for, and interest in, novel cartographic methods, a need for more expressive and visual representations on the one hand, and on the other, a deeper historical and theoretical approaches to visualization. This call seeks to conflate the two.

The PhD project is methodological at its core but needs to be able to encompass critical readings of the dominant cultural and political narratives on the North and the South. It is aware that climate change is operating at speeds that are incomprehensible to us, and it strives to attune our methods for documentation to the uncertainties and paradoxes that we are experiencing while trying to direct our course in planning, managing and caring.


  • The candidate must have knowledge of, and expertise in, place/urban development, cultural heritage practices, urban and landscape theory, and the tradition of mapping within landscape architecture.

  • The candidate must have a degree in landscape architecture, planning, architecture, anthropology, human geography, or similar.

  • The candidate must have knowledge of Arctic environments and/or the Global South.

  • The candidate must have a strong background in GIS-based mapping techniques and have an openness to the possibility of expanding upon or moving beyond GIS rationale.

  • The candidate must be able to build knowledge of the economic and societal challenges for communities located on the margins, be they perceived as developmental margins, or very real and critical climactic and environmental margins.

  • Importantly, the candidate must demonstrate good academic writing skills. 

Recruitment context 

This PhD candidate will work closely with research groups working on the Arctic and/or the Global South. These groups share a focus on exposed populations, threatened ecologies and areas under pressure, all as results of colonization, climate change and migration. They are also in acute need of cartographic tools that allow for other-than-human-centered perspectives on the surface of the globe as a ‘critical zone’ – a dynamic layer of exposure, forces, and vulnerabilities, but also untapped local agency.

The PhD will be supervised by Janike Kampevold Larsen, Professor of Landscape Theory, and Anders Ese, Associate Professor of Urbanism. Ese’s work evolves around interdisciplinary mapping in urban settings in the Global South. He co-authored the monograph The City Makers of Nairobi: An African Urban History with historian Kristin Ese (2020) and is currently heading the Ugandan part of an LSE research project on refugee and local youth groups’ use of social media in cities. His teaching activities include the master course Global Urbanism and the elective Rethinking Development and Sustainable Futures. Kampevold Larsen is a landscape researcher and theorist with a background in literature, critical theory and philosophy. Her recent research on Arctic landscapes focuses on collaborative strategies, circularity and materials. In a series of courses called Resource Atlas Varanger, she has sought to develop novel perspectives on areas under pressure and to map landscape resources and their role and agencies in future circular systems.

Questions about the position

The application must include:

  • An application letter describing relevant background, motivation, research experience and network (two A4 pages maximum).
  • A tentative project outline of maximum 5 pages, formulating and discussing research tasks, types of problems, methodology.
  • CV
  • Certified copies of educational certificates, transcript of records, diplomas
  • Examples of work written by the applicant, and/or examples of landscape/urbanism/community design projects by the applicant, with relevance to the research project. Five works maximum.
  • 2 references (name, relation to candidate, e-mail address and telephone number) 

Please note:

Applications must be sent through Jobbnorge.no

All documentation must be in English or a Scandinavian language. Applications that do not fulfil the formal requirements will not be considered. Attachments beyond the required documents will not be taken into consideration.

The material for the PhD application will be assessed according to the following criteria:

  • The quality of the project description
  • The applicant's suitability for the research tasks, based on previous practical and academic work.
  • The academic competence of the applicant 

Formal regulations:

The educational component in the AHO PhD Programme is mandatory and requires fulltime attendance. Residency in Oslo for the employment period is mandatory. Research stay at a relevant international academic institution is encouraged. The PhD fellowship will start September 1, 2024.

AHO expects all proposed projects to follow current national research ethics guidelines.

We offer

We offer:

  • The PhD scholarship is fully funded and there is no tuition fee. The salary is NOK 532 200 for a full position. From the salary, there will be a mandatory deduction of 2% as a contribution to the State Pension fund (SPK). Standard employment conditions for state employees in Norway apply for the position. An annual allowance of 20 000 NOK for literature and other necessary academic activities.
  • Office space in a professionally stimulating working environment.
  • Attractive welfare benefits and generous pension agreement, in addition to Oslo’s family-friendly environment with its rich opportunities for culture and outdoor activities.

Questions about the position

  • Janike Kampvold Larsen (professor), janike.larsen@aho.no
  • Anders Ese (associate professor), anders.ese@aho.no

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