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Social Science Impact Fellow

Job Description

The MIT Climate & Sustainability Consortium (MCSC) Impact Fellowship Program is a postdoctoral opportunity for individuals who want to transcend academia and industry to apply their expertise to near-term change for a more sustainable future. MCSC Impact Fellows will work with MIT researchers and consortium industry members in collaboration with external organizations and communities to implement solutions needed for global economic transformation to address the global climate change and sustainability crisis. Throughout the program, Impact Fellows will prepare for leadership positions within the sustainability domain in a wide range of contexts, as well as prepare to drive research that advances breakthrough scalable solutions towards accelerated change.

The MCSC brings together large companies from different sectors to discuss barriers to the sustainable transition. MCSC Impact Fellows facilitate the discussion and use their expertise to drive the conversation towards sufficient detail to identify problems whose solutions have immediately actionable steps. Roadblocks to a sustainable transition are rarely contained within traditional boundaries of academic disciplines or market sectors. Thus, an Impact Fellow must have expertise in a field along with technical fluency in others to be able to traverse boundaries between disciplines during live conversations and problem-definition exercises. Impact Fellows work in teams to construct problem definitions and potential solutions that draw from their expertise spanning social sciences, humanities, engineering, and physical sciences. Teams may be built with MIT faculty spanning multiple departments as well as corporate partners.

In this posting, we seek a social science-oriented Impact Fellow to bring a perspective on the social dimensions of climate and sustainability topics important to the MCSC. Many climate solutions are technical in nature, but solutions inherently involve people and as such, ultimate success in implementation may rely on the degree to which the social dimensions of solutions are incorporated into interdisciplinary innovation. We seek a colleague who can bring an understanding of the social, organizational, and/or governance drivers of climate change and sustainability problems to bear on problem definition, solution-building, as well as evaluating the implementation potential, durability, and desirability of the innovations we develop. Focused research may include: equity and agent-centered design, behavior and markets, transparency and accountability, policy and governance. The ideal candidate has strong demonstrated interest collaborating with experts in natural science and/or engineering on applied solutions and is comfortable working across the collaborative tensions inherent in an engineering-focused environment. We are looking for an individual to advance our capabilities in human and community-centered approaches to innovation in climate and sustainability solutions. Mentorship support will be provided within the consortium and by MIT faculty in areas relevant to the candidate’s background or proposed research. We suggest that candidates showcase their experience traversing disciplines during problem-solving in their application materials.

Job Requirements:

  • Ph.D. in social science, with a focus on humanistic perspectives including, but not limited to: anthropology, sociology, geography, psychology, political science, history, history of science, STS, public policy and planning, environmental studies, or environmental humanities
  • Candidates must be familiar with at least 3 of each:
    • Methods: Ethnographic, interview, survey, narrative analysis, comparative case studies, participant action, or community-based research
    • Theoretical background: collective action and social movements, organizational theory, sustainable development, social theory, science and technology studies (STS), environmental justice, environmental governance, environmental policy and planning, indigenous epistemologies, environmental history, environmental humanities, environmental law
  • Experience in proposal writing, group management and coordination
  • Must be highly collaborative and able to work in a team environment with experts from diverse backgrounds
  • Strong communication skills (both written and verbal), including strong listening skills

Application Instructions:


Qualified candidates are asked to submit a cover letter and CV to this post on the MIT Human resources site (Job Number 23762).

Applications will be considered upon receipt and until the position is filled.

This is a two-year appointment with the possibility of renewal.

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