Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology

Umeå University is one of Sweden’s largest higher education institutions with over 37,000 students and about 4,700 employees. The University offers a diversity of high-quality education and world-leading research in several fields. Notably, the groundbreaking discovery of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing tool, which was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, was made here. At Umeå University, everything is close. Our cohesive campuses make it easy to meet, work together and exchange knowledge, which promotes a dynamic and open culture.

The ongoing societal transformation and large green investments in northern Sweden create enormous opportunities and complex challenges. For Umeå University, conducting research about – and in the middle of – a society in transition is key. We also take pride in delivering education to enable regions to expand quickly and sustainably. In fact, the future is made here.

Are you interested in learning more? Read about Umeå university as a workplace

Umeå institute of design (UID) seeks a postdoctoral researcher who will work with the UmArts Research Centre and Bildmuséet as part of the WASP-HS Guest Professorship Project in Art & AI. The position is full-time for three years commencing on 1 September, 2023, or by agreement. 
Scope of research and project description 
The UmArts Research Centre is leading research in Art, Architecture, Design and Artificial Intelligence (AI) at Umeå University (UmU) in northern Sweden in partnership with the Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program – Humanities and Society (WASP-HS) and UmU’s Centre for Transdisciplinary AI (TAIGA). In 2023, curator Sarah Cook will join UmArts as the WASP-HS Guest Professor in partnership with Bildmuseet, Umeå School of Architecture (UMA), Umeå Institute of Design (UID) and the University of Glasgow.

The WASP-HS Guest Professorship project Art and AI explores how arts research can contribute to the social and ethical discourses of AI and machine learning. The project involves working in partnership with museums and galleries, artists and curators to critically interrogate the aesthetics and politics of AI, collaborating with and challenging the algorithmic logic underpinning hardware and software development. We are interested in how creative encounters can allow publics to experience and engage with the ethical considerations and societal shifts that widespread use of AI will bring and feeding that back into AI development. 
Within the Art and AI project we are looking to recruit two outstanding post-doctoral researchers to work with Professor Sarah Cook and the UmArts team for three years. We will appoint two post-doctoral researchers: one in Architecture and AI with UMA, and one in Design and AI with UID. Both postdocs will be part of the new UmArts team of interdisciplinary post-doctoral researchers, Bildmuseet, and the wider national WASP-HS research community. 
The two post-doctoral researchers will contribute to the UmArts artistic research culture as well as to the development of interdisciplinary research practices that generate a critical and creative discourse about art, architecture, design, and AI in the public realm. We invite applications from candidates with a doctoral degree in design or related fields such as art, computing and architecture. 
This call is for a post-doctoral fellow in interdisciplinary design research which uses and/or investigates the uses of AI in the designed environment and public space, with research outputs in the form of contemporary art exhibitions, public events and publishing. The post-doctoral researcher will be employed at Umeå Institute of Design (UID) and further support will be provided by UmArts and Bildmuseet. The postdoc will be offered supervision by Guest Professor Sarah Cook and Johan Redström, Professor in Design at UID, with support from Ele Carpenter, Director of UmArts.  
The post-doctoral researcher will be employed for a three year full-time position (full salary with social costs included). Candidates must be committed to living and working in Umeå, and we encourage proposals to develop a context specific research project in the region. The postdoc positions include an expenses package of 40 000 SEK (approx. 4 000 EUR) per year for conference participation, production costs or other research related costs. 
We welcome proposals for interdisciplinary design research practices that demonstrate how art, design or architecture can contribute to the social and ethical discourses of AI and machine learning. The Research will generate a critical and creative discourse on the politics of AI and design including: territorial divisions, decolonisation, social cohesion, sustainability and resilience. The AI research in this area includes but is not limited to: facial recognition and algorithmic biases, data feminism, climate change datasets and visual information, deep fake synthetic images, coding and cryptography, extraction of rare earth metals, and the transition from global to planetary thinking. 
The post-doctoral researchers will have the opportunity to produce a range of research outputs including for example open access research articles, visual arts practice, prototyping, writing, exhibition-making, architectural, urban, and digital interventions, or performance, which drive forward the role of art and societal development. The post-docs will also play an active role in the UmArts programme, contributing to social events and annual symposia, leading research workshops and reading groups. Each post-doctoral researcher will work independently on their own creative project with support from supervisors in their two departments and the Director of UmArts.  

  • To be appointed under the postdoctoral agreement, the postdoctoral fellow is required to have completed a doctoral degree or a foreign degree deemed equivalent to a doctoral degree. This qualification requirements must be fulfilled no later than at the time of the appointment decision.
  • To be appointed under the postdoctoral agreement, priority should be given to candidates who completed their doctoral degree, according to what is stipulated in the paragraph above, no later than three years prior. If there are special reasons, candidates who completed their doctoral degree prior to that may also be eligible. Special reasons include absence due to illness, parental leave, appointments of trust in trade union organisations, military service, or similar circumstances, as well as clinical practice or other forms of appointment/assignment relevant to the subject area.
  • Strong research merits of artistic output presented in international exhibitions, and publications in the field, are required. 
  • Excellent knowledge of art, architectural or design research in terms of theory, practice and research methods, and expertise in their field, as demonstrated by exhibitions, publications and other research outputs. 
  • Demonstrated ability to collaborate and communicate in both spoken and written English.
  • Previous experience in working in interdisciplinary settings, both across the arts, as well as across the arts, sciences and humanities will be a valued merit in the selection process. 

We seek candidates that are research driven, organized, curious, eager to work on challenging problems, and have a genuine interest for interdisciplinary research will be prioritized. 

Your application should include:  

  • A research plan within the scope presented above. The research plan shall identify: key questions or problems, research objectives, methods, impact vision, proposed timeline and approach to interdisciplinary collaboration. (max 5 pages).
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV) including a complete list of publications and research outputs including exhibitions.  
  • Copies of doctoral degree or documentation clarifying when the doctorate is expected to be completed before Autumn 2023, and other relevant degree certificates, including documentation of completed academic courses and obtained grade.
  • A copy of your PhD thesis, artistic portfolio or equivalent and (max 5) research outputs relevant to the application, numbered according to the publication and exhibitions list.
  • Names and contact information for three persons willing to act as referee including a short statement of your professional connection to each referee. 

The application must be written in English (preferably) or Swedish. Attached documents in other languages must be translated. Documents must be in a pdf format. Applications must be submitted electronically using the e-recruitment system Varbi no later than 10 April 2023
If you would like to discuss a research proposal please contact Ele Carpenter;  
For additional information about the position please contact Head of Department at UID Demian Horst; 
We look forward to receiving your application!  
More information 
Umeå University is situated within the Arctic, and has specialist research centres in Sami Studies, Arctic Studies and a strong focus on sustainability and the environment. Umeå University has a specialist Arts Campus situated near the centre of town, on the banks of the river Ume. The Arts Campus is home to the Bildmuseet contemporary art gallery and UmArts, along with the Departments of Art, Architecture and Design, creating a lively hub of creative research activity with its own café and library.  
The UmArts Research Centre for Architecture, Design and the Arts is based at the Arts Campus. The centre aims to create an exciting interdisciplinary arts research environment in the visual arts, architecture, design, curatorial and creative studies in education in partnership with Bildmuseet and within the regional context of Northern Sweden as well as nationally and internationally. UmArts runs a programme of public research events, thematic working groups alongside staff research projects and a team of new post-doctoral researchers. In 2023 UmArts will open a new research studio space on the Arts Campus which will be the base for the post-docs and Small Visionary Projects. For more information see  
WASP-HS is a ten-year long research program running from 2019-2028 funded by the Wallenberg Foundations. The vision of WASP-HS is to foster novel interdisciplinary knowledge in the humanities and social sciences about AI and autonomous systems and their impact on human and social development. WASP-HS enables cutting edge research, expertise and competence building in the humanities and social sciences. As such, WASP-HS contributes to the development of innovative humane technologies and their transformative interaction with society. WASP-HS seeks to be a leading international player in the establishment of a global interdisciplinary research field on the impact of AI on humanity and society. For more information see: 

TAIGA aims to develop a structure and arena for collaboration and synergies in AI research at Umeå University with a focus on AI – for The Good of All. TAIGA's different research areas are supervised by our coordinators across faculties. TAIGA aims to initiate and drive research projects in AI and encourage both pilot and industrial projects of high international quality. For more information see: 

Type of employment Temporary position
Contract type Full time
First day of employment Enligt överenskommelse
Salary Månadslön
Number of positions 1
Full-time equivalent 100%
City Umeå
County Västerbottens län
Country Sweden
Reference number AN 2.2.1-283-23
  • Demian Horst, 090-7869782
Union representative
  • SACO, 090-7865365
  • SEKO, 090-7865296
  • ST, 090-7865431
Published 13.Feb.2023
Last application date 10.Apr.2023 11:59 PM CEST

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