Funded MSc thesis opportunity!

Published on
June 18, 2015

Funded MSc thesis (and/or internship) opportunities on hydropower development in the context of climate change in the Eastern Himalayas

The project

The culturally- and bio-diverse region of the Eastern Himalayas is vulnerable to climate change, and the target of ambitious hydropower development plans. This project sets out to explore how the impacts of hydropower development will intersect with the effects of climate change. To date, considerations of climate change are mainly expressed by Northern parties, in climate mitigation policies. In the plans and policies of Nepal, and Sikkim and northern West Bengal in India, hydropower development is not pursued to mitigate climate change, but to meet objectives of economic growth and energy demand. The distribution of the enormous benefits – as well as social costs – of hydropower development are skewed across groups and scales, which is one reason why it is very contentious. These contentions give rise to emerging conflicts and solidarities among stakeholders and communities involved, asking important questions about the legitimacy, transparency, and also equity, including corresponding institutional responses.

Call for MSc students
Your work would be fit in the context of this project. We are looking for three students who will be supervised by three different departments (possibly shared supervision): the Water Resources Management (WRM), the Environmental Economics and Natural Resources Group (ENR), and the Environmental Policy Group (ENP). Ideally, the students would work on complementary topics and support each other during fieldwork.
Possible topics/directions include:
- The political ecology of hydropower in the Eastern Himalayas
- The practice and politics of climate finance (CDM and beyond) of hydropower development in the Eastern Himalayas
- Case studies of specific hydropower projects in the region and the local/regional impacts
- Implications of hydropower development for community resilience
- The interaction of formal governmental interventions and informal community structures, such as cultural values, social norms, and social capital
- The effects of hydropower development and resettlements of communities on attitudes towards risk, cooperation, and the future.
- Public participation and decision-making in hydropower development at different scales in the Eastern Himalayas
- Risks and opportunities for climate-resilient, equitable and legitimate hydropower development
If selected, your travels costs and part of your fieldwork expenses will be covered by the project.
• Preferred start of field work is around September/October 2015, but dates are negotiable.

Who should apply?

• You are fluent in English
• You are happy diving headfirst into a unique local cultural context
• You possess good writing skills
• You are confident and can work independently if necessary

Who would you be working with?

- Deepa Joshi (Assistant Professor, WRM) is the coordinator of the above project and will provide the local connections, as well as context and support in writing for impact. Email:
- Andries Richter (Assistant Professor, ENR) works on the interaction between environmental, economic, and social systems and the underlying institutions. Email:
- Mattijs Smits (Assistant Professor, ENP) works on energy and climate issues, as well as rural development and climate finance. Email:
- Ingrid Boas (Assistant Professor, ENP) works on how climate affects community resilience: Email:

How to apply?

- Send a short motivation statement, the topic you would like to work on, and your CV to
- There is no formal deadline, and we will consider applications until all slots are filled. The earlier you apply, the higher your chance.
If you have any questions or inquiries, please do not hesitate to contact us.