Living with Water Job Posting

Vancouver Island, BC aerial view. Credit: Thomas Lipke from

PICS is seeking a doctoral candidate in cost-benefit analysis of managed retreat scenarios 

The University of Waterloo’s Geography and Environmental Management Department is offering a full-time opportunity for a doctoral candidate in cost-benefit analysis of managed retreat scenarios to support Living with Water, a $1M PICS research partnership led by the University of British Columbia.

The doctoral student will be advised by Prof. Brent Doberstein and will receive interdisciplinary training in climate change adaptation, hazard risk reduction, cost benefit analysis/full-cost accounting, and managed retreat. The student will pursue the application of cost benefit analysis for managed retreat scenarios related to long-term adaptation planning for urban coastal communities vulnerable to climate change impacts. Four years of funding for this position will come from a combination of Research Assistantship and Teaching Assistantship support, which collectively will meet or exceed the University of Waterloo’s “Guaranteed Minimum Funding for Doctoral Students”. The preferred start date is Fall 2021. 

Research responsibilities:

  • Review the managed retreat literature to identify previous examples of cost benefit analysis for managed retreat implemented as part of recent coastal or riverine flood adaptation in developed countries.
  • Contribute to the development of research protocols and methodologies for cost benefit analysis of managed retreat, using the concepts of full cost accounting and lifecycle assessment.
  • Conduct one or more case study analyses of managed retreat scenarios for locations in the Lower Mainland facing significant sea level rise threats (i.e. coastal inundation, landward habitat loss, community flooding, infrastructure damage, etc).
  • Carry out interviews, focus group sessions and/or workshops with the policy-practice community to communicate findings and solicit feedback from coastal adaptation practitioners and solution-seekers.
  • Present research ideas and findings in academic fora, and local and regional workshops/conferences.
  • Contribute to the development of peer reviewed publications, white papers and technical reports.
  • Provide general support for Project Component B1: “Defining critical infrastructure, nature-based solutions and managed retreat in the B.C coastal context”

Eligibility criteria for candidate:

  • Holds a degree at the Master’s level in a relevant field (e.g., Geography, Planning, Landscape Architecture, Urban Studies, Economics)
  • Has a background in, and experience with cost benefit analysis, ecological economics, full cost accounting, and/or lifecycle assessment.
  • Has a good working knowledge of climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction, and managed retreat.
  • Has knowledge about coastal communities in Canada including issues associated with sea level rise, coastal vulnerability, and marine-related social and economic activities, particularly in Canada
  • Has experience and interests in research collaborations with municipalities, First Nations, and professionals concerning the development of adaptation strategies;
  • Works well both independently and as part of an interdisciplinary team
  • Has strong time management, organizational, and project management skills, and
  •  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:

Candidates should submit their application including all supporting documentation by February 28, 2021. Applicants are strongly advised to be in email touch with Prof Doberstein prior to submitting an application, both
to answer any questions you might have and to clarify whether your background is likely to be competitive.

View full details, including information on the application process, here.

Brent Doberstein