Funded PhD position at UBC's School of Community and Regional Planning - Coastal Adaptation and Indigenous Governance

The School of Community and Regional Planning at the University of British Columbia is offering a full-time opportunity for a doctoral candidate in climate change planning, and specifically coastal flood adaptation planning and governance to support Living with Water, a $1M funded research project by the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions. Living with Water brings together an interdisciplinary group of researchers with decision-makers from multiple municipalities and First Nations communities in the South Coast of British Columbia. The project will study the impact of sea level rise on this region, and develop solutions across local and regional scales to help coastal communities successfully plan and adapt to uncertain futures. The project will develop effective tools and frameworks to support solutions across shared ecosystems and shorelines, including frameworks for collaboration, integrated policies, design guidelines, and coordinated governance arrangements.

The doctoral student will work with Dr. Maggie Low and receive interdisciplinary training in planning, environmental studies, Indigenous governance, Indigenous rights and climate change. Ideally the student will be interested in learning from Indigenous approaches to coastal adaptation, and committed to holding up Indigenous laws, knowledges and perspectives in their work on this research project.

Four years of funding for this position (at $25,000/year) will come from a combination of a yearly stipend and research assistantship support. Preferred start is Fall 2021.

Research Responsibilities

The successful candidate will be expected to:

  • Contribute to the development of protocols and guidance for local municipalities working with Indigenous governments and communities on coastal adaptation
  • Work with the research team to develop regional coastal management governance guidelines
  • Review and analyse colonial legislation, bylaws, policies and strategies related to floodplain management (and land- use planning) for the south coast of BC, and coastal flood adaptation management in the region from 2011 to present
  • Integrate outcomes generated through interviews with local staff, elected officials, government agency representatives and stakeholders to challenges and key policy drivers
  • Contribute to other aspects of the project including assisting with focus group sessions and participatory values mapping workshops
  • Contribute to the development of peer reviewed publications, white papers and technical reports
  • Present research ideas and findings in colloquia but also in local and regional conferences

Eligibility criteria:

  • Holds a master’s degree in a relevant field (e.g., planning, geography, Indigenous studies, environmental studies, public policy, climate science, etc.)
  • Has a demonstrated trans-disciplinary approach to research on coastal adaptation of communities and ecosystems
  • Has knowledge of coastal communities in Canada including issues associated with coastal vulnerability, and marine-related social and economic activities, particularly across Canada
  • Has experience and interests in research collaborations with municipalities, First Nations, and professionals concerning the development of adaptation strategies
  • Knowledge and interest in Indigenous knowledges, worldviews and rights
  • Works well both independently and as part of an interdisciplinary team
  • Has strong time management, organizational, and project management skills
  • Is able to communicate effectively with researchers in various disciplines and with non-academic members of governments, communities, and the private sector

Deadline for submission of application:

Monday, February 1st, 2021 at 5:00 pm. Please note reference letters are due by February 10th.

Application Procedures:

Candidates should follow the SCARP “PhD: Invited Application Requirements” process here.   

Please note: In your Research Statement of Intent, instead of outlining the thesis project you wish to undertake, please explain how your interests, background and life experiences make you a good fit for this position.

Further information:

Interested candidates are encouraged to email Maggie Low ( with any questions and/or with a brief explanation of why you are interested in this position before submitting an official application. 

Reference Number

Please mention reference number GPS-54831 in all your correspondence about this Doctoral student position.

This position will be supervised by
Interested applicants will have to gain admission to this graduate program

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