Call for PHD position

12 Jul
PHD position

Call for PHD position

The new PhD position on “Food System and Biodiversity Loss: a Transition to More Sustainable Behaviors” is open within the PhD program in Sustainable Development and Climate Change.

The PhD course is organized in 6 curricula which share two common goals:


  • to propose new sustainable models to address climate change and its impacts, and
  • to build a learning and research community able to promote innovative and operational solutions to the complex problems of our society.


The candidate will work under the supervision of Professor Morone and in collaboration with other scholars belonging to his network.


This position belongs to the CURRICULUM CU2 “SOCIO-ECONOMIC RISKS AND IMPACTS” and its scholarship code is CU2.13.

More info can be found at:


Deadline for application: 5th of August.





Research topic
Europe is currently facing several environmental, economic and social challenges, aggravated by the COVID-19 crisis. However, the ongoing pandemic could provide an opportunity to rethink economic and business models and policy, to favor innovation and a Green Deal-oriented transition. In this regard, there is growing interest in the development of new production and consumption models. Such new models are crucial to address sustainability challenges and to support an economic model that is more resilient to exogenous shocks and able to address the ‘just transition’ pillar of the Green Deal (e.g. Ingrao et al. 2018). This need to deploy new consumption and production models also applies to the food system. Indeed, there is increasing recognition that the prevailing food system is environmentally unsustainable and socially unjust, a situation which has prompted different initiatives around the world to propose, reinvent or institutionalise more sustainable practices, from individual to global levels, and to develop more sustainable food systems (Allen, 2014). Unsustainable mass consumption models have long characterized the European manufacturing sector and – since the mid-twentieth century – have also expanded to the food system. The negative consequences of these mass consumption models are amplified in food systems by the difficulty to include negative externalities in food prices. Another distortion which regards specifically the prevailing food system is food waste/surplus. The Food Loss Index of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that 13.8 % of the food produced in 2016 was lost ‘from the farm up to, but excluding, the retail stage’. This waste is generated throughout the supply chain, from agricultural residues through industrial processing wastes to final household and catering consumption surpluses. Unsustainability of the current food system regards also the growing demand for nutrients from meat-based Western food production and consumption patterns. This trend places enormous pressure on the environment and threatens biodiversity as intensive farming and husbandry is considered to be among the major drivers of biodiversity loss (Willett et al., 2019). Against this background, this research project will be articulated along the following three research lines: 1. Assessing the impact of current unsustainable food production and consumption behaviors (specific attention will be given to biodiversity) 2. Identifying measures to prompt the needed changes in consumer behaviors (this will be done mostly through behavioral and experimental economics methods, including nudging techniques) 3. Measuring the existence of a green premium for biodiversity (both w.r.t. green consumption and green finance).

Research team and environment
Research at UnitelmaSapienza (a young online & distance learning University directly linked to Sapienza University of Rome) is carried out in various Laboratories, Research Centers and Research Groups. The Bioeconomy in Transition Research Group (BiT-RG) is involved in research concerning the emergence of a circular and bio-based economy relying on the use of renewable resources for the production of novel products for various applications. The scientific coordinator of the BiT-RG is Piergiuseppe Morone, Full Professor of Economic Policy at UnitelmaSapienza. The group includes 14 additional members: prof. Donald Huisingh (honorary member), 12 researchers from prestigious Italian and foreign universities and 1 administrative technician from the Management Control and Research Area of the University (professional profiles available at the following link: https://www.Bioeconomy-in-transition.Eu/people/). Most of the BiT-RG research activities are channeled in the Sustainability Transition strategic area: Modern society has a dire need of bringing together economic efficiency, low environmental impact technologies, and alternative feedstocks to conventional fossil fuel and raw materials. This need calls for an efficient management of biomasses. Bearing these facts in mind, a transition from a society heavily based on mass consumption, uncontrolled waste generation, and heavy fossil fuels exploitation toward one based on resource-efficiency, new production and consumption behaviours, waste reduction, reuse, and valorization, seems a desirable and much needed feat. This change involves a paradigm shift, which goes beyond technological change – it involves big societal and institutional changes as much as the development of radically new technologies.

Suggested skills
Knowledge of quantitative and qualitative methods for empirical research in behavioural economics, including survey analysis for consumers and field and laboratory experimental economic analysis; interdisciplinary skills and motivations to create bridges between fields.


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