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Two-Year Postdoc Position: Gods, Games, and the Socioecological Landscape

The School of Culture and Society at Aarhus University invites applications for a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in the study of religion. The position is full-time, and is available from 1 September 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter.

The university wants its staff to reflect the diversity of society, and thus welcomes applications from all qualified applicants regardless of their personal background.

Research context
This position is funded by an Aarhus University Research Foundation starting grant awarded to the supervisor, Associate Professor Benjamin Purzycki at the Department of the Study of Religion. The fellowship is available as of 1 September 2020 for a period of two years.

The position is located at the Department of the Study of Religion, Jens Chr. Skous Vej 3-7, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.

For further information about the position, please contact Associate Professor Benjamin Grant Purzycki (

For more information about the application process, please contact HR supporter Marianne Birn (

Research and postdoctoral project
In spite of the continued growth in evolutionary approaches to religion, there remains a curious lack of formal theory and models to address local, functional resolutions to social dilemmas in the form of religious beliefs and practices. While the field is saturated with indications that religion resolves local challenges to cooperation, and many are testing hypotheses based on informal theories, only a handful of formal models exist that actually generate testable hypotheses. This position will involve propelling the field towards a better appreciation of formal models and their application, particularly in small-scale societies. Rather than designing experimental economic games, the position will entail the use of evolutionary game-theoretical models to simulate real-world scenarios and to push the boundaries of their utility in ethnographic contexts. To facilitate discussion, applicants should be prepared to discuss aspects of scenarios detailed here throughout the application process:

Qualifications, job requirements and preferences

  • PhD in anthropology, economics, ecology, biology, or any related field that addresses problems in evolutionary game theory
  • Expertise in evolutionary game theory, in particular with preferences for: a) specialisation in mathematical modelling generally, b) specialisation in social learning specifically, and c) experience with agent-based modelling
  • Readiness and willingness to learn from and apply models to real-world scenarios
  • Readiness and willingness to teach models about real-world scenarios
  • Fluent written and spoken English
  • Willingness to contribute to a vibrant, enjoyable and friendly work environment
  • The ability to work collaboratively with supervisors and PhD students.

Please note that only publications that are actually submitted with the application will be assessed: a list of publications is not sufficient. Applications which are not accompanied by publications will not be assessed. Please see further below under the headline 'Formalities'.

Institutional context
The Faculty of Arts at Aarhus University is one of the largest environments for research and education in Northern Europe. We investigate human cultural and social forms of expression and practice.
See the School of Culture and Society at the Faculty of Arts for more information on its research activities.

Research environment
Aarhus University’s Department of the Study of Religion is a friendly working environment. It is recognised as a major hub for the cognitive and evolutionary sciences of religion and has students at all levels. As the department is committed to transdisciplinary research, the intellectual atmosphere is enriching and vibrant. For more information, please see the department’s website:

The School of Culture and Society
At the School of Culture and Society, the object of research and teaching is the interplay between culture and society in time and space:
  • From the traditional disciplines of the humanities and theology to applied social research
  • From Antiquity to the issues facing contemporary societies
  • From Danish cultural forms to other very different worlds
  • From local questions to global challenges

The school’s ambition is to produce compelling research with an international resonance, as well as offering teaching and talent development of the highest quality. The school has a broad cooperative interface with society as a whole, both in Denmark and abroad, and contributes to social innovation, research communication and further and continuing education.
For further information about the school, please see

Qualification requirements
Applicants should hold a PhD or equivalent academic qualifications.

Faculty of Arts refers to the Ministerial Order on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Danish Universities (the Appointment Order).All interested candidates are encouraged to apply, regardless of their personal background.

Aarhus University also offers a Junior Researcher Development Programme targeted at career development for postdocs at AU. You can read more about it here:

Faculty of Arts
The Faculty of Arts is one of four main academic areas at Aarhus University.
The faculty contributes to Aarhus University's research, talent development, knowledge exchange and degree programmes.

With its 500 academic staff members, 260 PhD students, 10,500 BA and MA students, and 1,500 students following continuing/further education programmes, the faculty constitutes a strong and diverse research and teaching environment.
The Faculty of Arts consists of the School of Communication and Culture, the School of Culture and Society, the Danish School of Education, and the Centre for Teaching Development and Digital Media. Each of these units has strong academic environments and forms the basis for interdisciplinary research and education.
The faculty's academic environments and degree programmes engage in international collaboration and share the common goal of contributing to the development of knowledge, welfare and culture in interaction with society.


The application must be submitted via Aarhus University’s recruitment system, which can be accessed under the job advertisement on Aarhus University's website.

Aarhus University
Aarhus University is an academically diverse and research-intensive university with a strong commitment to high-quality research and education and the development of society nationally and globally. The university offers an inspiring research and teaching environment to its 38,000 students (FTEs) and 8,000 employees, and has an annual revenues of EUR 885 million. Learn more at

12 March 2020


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