Doctoral Researcher RegulAIR

Please note: The deadline for applying to this position has passed.

Application Deadline: Friday, May 21, 2021

Doctoral Researcher on the project RegulAIR: The integration of drones in the Norwegian and European Airspaces 

The Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) invites applications for a three-year, full-time position as Doctoral Researcher. The position provides the opportunity to work in a leading international research institution with high academic standards and an interdisciplinary environment.

This position is financed as part of a grant from the Research Council of Norway to PRIO for the project “RegulAIR: The integration of drones in the Norwegian and European Airspaces”, led by Senior Researcher Bruno Oliveira Martins.

Working within the field of socio-legal studies, the Doctoral Researcher to be employed in this project will conduct theoretical and empirical research on how drone technology is regulated and integrated in society. The work conducted here will result in a PhD dissertation in English.

About the RegulAIR project  

 Over the last decade, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (commonly known as drones) has increased dramatically. Initially developed solely for military use, drone technology was later adapted for (civilian) surveillance purposes, and then for recreation and for transporting goods, from food to medical supplies. This expansion from military to surveillance to cargo functions means not only that more and more drones are in the air, but also that our understanding of what drones are and what they do has fundamentally changed in a very short span of time.

Significant international, regional and national efforts have been made recently to respond to the proliferation of drones, focused on developing regulations to integrate them safely into civilian airspace. The EU has begun regulating drones, and its regulation on common rules in the field of civil aviation is gradually being applied in all EU member states and associated countries. Intensive discussions are now underway in Norway about the best way to integrate drones into Norwegian airspace in harmony with EU legislation.

Despite these efforts, the serious regulatory and security problems posed by drones remain. Indeed, all the actors involved in the business of flying civilian drones are eager for regulatory improvement: the drone industry would like to fly more and more safely; law enforcement agencies are interested in both flying more drones in their operations and protecting critical infrastructure from potential drone attacks; and citizens and the civil society remain engaged in the discussion.

Analyzing ‘drones’ merely as platforms is thus insufficient; rethinking the airspace is needed, in order to understand the context from which new security problems emerge, the wider societal implications they carry, and the legal responses they require. The socio-technical context of contemporary airspace and the imaginaries surrounding drone proliferation also bring to the fore new questions about what counts as a security issue, how it emerges, and how to react to it. The project will yield key insights into the tensions involved in balancing how to simultaneously regulate the use of drones and counter-drone technology while ensuring that airspace security threats are effectively and proportionally addressed.

Hosted at PRIO, the research project brings together international experts on this topic, and it is expected that the PhD candidate will work closely with the team.

The doctoral project

The three-year PhD Project will study the socio-legal challenges associated with regulating new technologies. The PhD project should have drones as a case study of wider challenges on technology integration, particularly those technologies that are dual use in character, i.e. that may have both civilian and military applications and can pose non-military security risks, e.g. by being used by terror groups or by other criminal organizations. The theoretical and conceptual work developed in the PhD project will constitute an important part of the whole RegulAIR project.

A successful application will demonstrate how the PhD Project will build upon—and advance beyond—the existing research frontier on emerging technology regulation while also making innovative and substantive contributions to the RegulAIR project. A RegulAIR project description will be made available upon request.

The candidate will be expected to live in Oslo and will have a workplace at PRIO. The PhD degree, however, must be awarded by a degree-granting institution. Hence, the Doctoral Researcher will be responsible for applying to, and enrolling in a compatible PhD program. Different institutions may have different requirements, and candidates are encouraged to make enquiries about their eligibility for enrolling in a given program in advance. Tuition fees are not covered by the project.

The Doctoral Researcher will report to a principal supervisor at the PhD-granting institution and a co-supervisor at PRIO. The Doctoral Researcher will be encouraged to apply to PRIO’s Research School in Peace and Conflict. Progress on the doctorate will be supported through regular presentations at internal seminars and involvement in appropriate research groups at PRIO, including the Security Research Group, as well as opportunities to present work at international academic conferences and workshops. The PhD progress plan will be closely tied to the overall RegulAIR project plan.

Required and desired qualifications

Applicants must have the following qualifications

  • Hold a M.A./LLM
  • Excellent communication and writing skills (English) 

In addition, the following qualifications are desirable

  • Experience with teamwork in international environments
  • Academic publications, policy-oriented work, and/or experience in conference presentations
  • Previous work with social and/or legal dimensions of technology (e.g. advocacy, litigation, advisory, etc)

Application procedure

The application is to be submitted online no later than 21 May 2021. The application must include the following attachments (as PDF files; all written in English):

  1. A 1-page cover letter that explains your motivation for applying for the position, with a confirmation that all formal requirements, as described above, are fulfilled;
  2. A curriculum vitae, including a list of any publications you might have;
  3. An academic writing sample (e.g. M.A. thesis or conference paper)
  4. Scanned copies of original academic transcripts;
  5. A Doctoral Project description of max. 6 pages (including references), outlining:
  • Main research questions;
  • A theoretical framework highlighting how the proposed research questions advance the research frontier and how they relate to the RegulAIR project
  • Tentative outline of the PhD dissertation;
  • A progress plan for the three-year Doctoral Project, including start and end dates and key milestones;

      6. Name and contact details of two references

Shortlisted candidates after evaluation of the submitted applications will be invited to interview(s) in order to discuss the research plan in more detail and to provide further details about the position. Interviews (virtual meetings) will take place in 2-3 June 2021. The starting date for the position is planned for 1 October or as early as possible after a decision has been announced (expected by mid-June 2021).

Additional information

The institute is located in spacious and attractive premises in central Oslo, Europe’s fastest-growing capital city. Employee benefits include access to the PRIO cabin in the mountains, a subsidized canteen, weekly physiotherapy exercise, weekly running group and various social events. PRIO is an equal opportunity employer and values staff diversity. The working language at PRIO is English.

The starting salary for a Doctoral Researcher at PRIO in 2021 is NOK 498.400 (equivalent to step 56 in the Norwegian State salary system). Employees are offered membership in the Norwegian Public Service Pension fund. The Doctoral Project comes with funding earmarked for conference and workshop travel (but not fieldwork). 

The candidate should have an interest in PRIO’s broader mission of conducting high-quality academic research on questions relevant to the promotion of a more peaceful world. For more information about PRIO’s vision and research, see www.prio.org.

Requests to receive the RegulAIR project description should be directed to Administrative Assistant Emma Qualischefski: emqual@prio.org, phone +47 22547700

Other questions about the Doctoral Researcher position can be addressed to Senior Researcher Bruno Oliveira Martins: brumar@prio.org.