PhD Position ‘Data-driven, urban policymaking for social inclusion of young, vulnerable people’ (sensors etc)
Posted: 09 February 2020 09:47 PM
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From https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/vacatures/2020/q1/20-057-6822-phd-candidate-data-driven-urban-policymaking-for-social-inclusion-of-young-vulnerable-people

PhD candidate

Project description
We are looking for an excellent PhD candidate to join a unique multidisciplinary project defined within the LDE (Leiden University, Delft University of Technology and Erasmus University) Centre for BOLD (Big Open and Linked Data) Cities. The project entitled ‘Data-driven, urban policymaking for social inclusion of young, vulnerable people’ compiles a team of researchers from psychology, architecture, computer science and public administration with the goal of identifying factors contributing to an inclusive school setting.

For different reasons, many adolescents do not fit in socially at school. Importantly, social isolation at school affects teenagers’ quality of life, and will also negatively impact their academic development and even their school attendance. So, how can we create an inclusive school setting, in which all students feel welcome and can participate, where diversity is an asset and not a negative aspect? An inclusive school setting includes physical (the architectural design of school buildings), social (interaction with peers) and cultural (what is customary or permissible) levels, which are nested in local and national policies.

The PhD research is embedded in this interdisciplinary project with the goal of identifying factors contributing to an inclusive school setting with and for vulnerable teenagers, such as adolescents with autism. The PhD project will focus on integrating different sources of information, measuring complex social phenomena through modern sensing technologies complementary to traditional methods like questionnaires, and analyzing the physical environment, at the level of both school building design/operation and wider social policies.

The researcher will be affiliated with the Centre for BOLD Cities and will be jointly supervised by researchers at the Institute of Psychology, Leiden Center for Advanced Computer Science, the Institute of Public Administration at Leiden University, and the Department of Management in the Built Environment at Delft University of Technology.

Key responsibilities

Data collection: This includes thinking about how data can be collected from pupils in the school setting through sensory technologies and which methods can be applied. This builds on previous work that has been done within the context of this research linked to RFID technology on playgrounds looking at children with communication problems in mainstream education;
Data Analysis: The analysis has the goal of combining the different data sources with the goal of understanding the affordances of the specific physical, social and cultural environments for autistic and non-autistic pupils, and how these relate to school building design, pedagogical approaches and school policies. There is a need to design algorithms that extract patterns representing individual and social behaviors of pupils; and their use of space; thus exploring the comples interaction patterns over time and in space;
These tasks cover WPs of the NWO-funded project “Breaking the cycle: an inclusive school environment outside the classroom for adolescents with ASD”, from which this position is partially funded. A full description of the project is available upon request.

Selection criteria

MSc in data science, artificial intelligence, computer science, or a related discipline;
strong programming skills;
Experience with machine learning and data mining algorithms;
The project particularly encourages applications from candidates with a demonstrated affinity to the application of computational methods and algorithms for solving issues in other domains such as public policy;
Willingness to work in a multidisciplinary project and the ability to communicate computational methods to other disciplines and policymakers;
Willingness and proven ability to work independently, but also to execute the research project in concordance with the other themes in the project;
Strong command of the English language.
Our organisation
The Centre for BOLD Cities is an alliance between Leiden University, Delft of Technology, and Erasmus University Rotterdam, which leads to a unique opportunity of research projects with a wide spectrum of disciplines that are complementary to a significant degree. The aim of the Centre is to work towards an inclusive smart city for citizens and civil servants. The research is based and focused on individual citizens and their experience in the (smart) city. BOLD cities use all kinds of data generated by - among others - sensor technologies, social media or classic census data. The emerging urban data landscape is diverse and complex, and involves big data as well as open and/or linked data. Researchers are working together on a variety of projects, where ethical dilemmas are a common theme running through them all. Examples are:

Using big open and linked data to design personalised reintegration strategies to help people who are looking for a job from a benefit position;
Possibility to use of big, open and linked data to track or detect NEET’s through e.g. Social media usage;
Increasing citizens’ awareness and empowerment with regard to the datafication of the public space.

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