Job Posting: Postdoctoral Fellow (UBC-O) Agricultural Adaptation to Climate Change in British Columbia

Duration: Two years, summer 2019 to summer 2021.

Location: The University of British Columbia – Okanagan Campus, Kelowna, BC.

Salary: $45,000 per year, with benefits.

For more information:


Project Summary

Agriculture in British Columbia is very diverse, and faces a diverse collection of challenges from the changing climate. A number of those challenges stem from social and institutional relationships. Partnering across the academic, government and industrial sectors promises to be the most effective way to study these challenges and identify opportunities for enhancing the adaptive capacity of BC agriculture. We plan to build on a nascent partnership in this space, the BC Agriculture Climate Adaptation Research Network (ACARN). To date, ACARN has enabled knowledge sharing and networking between researchers at several BC academic institutions, BC’s Ministry of Agriculture, Agriculture Canada, the BC AgricultureCouncil, and the BC Agriculture and Food Climate Action Initiative (CAI). CAI has completed a number of region specific investigations into the challenges that different commodity groups and regions of the province face, and recommended actions that would enhance agricultural adaptive capacity. Our collaborative research will delve into the challenges surrounding CAI’s recommended actions and identifying opportunities to overcome these challenges.We will examine a pair of contrasting cases, the Cariboo region and the Okanagan region, that exemplify important adaptation challenges. The CAI has profiled these two regions. The Cariboo region is a relatively arid region with extensive grasslands, dominated by cattle ranching. With rising temperatures, rangeland productivity may fall and ranges at the grassland-forest interface are seeing increased wildfire impacts. Agriculture in the Okanagan region is more diverse than in the Cariboo, with horticultural crops, particularly wine grapes and tree fruits, accounting for the largest shares of production. Water shortages and wildfire are also important in the Okanagan, but through impacts on water available for irrigation and smoke impacts on tourism and crop development. The higher population density in the Okanagan provides farmers with more opportunities to use off farm income and on farm tourism and retail as parts of their adaptation strategies than in the Cariboo. Our partnership conversations have identified three ‘themes’ that will guide our case studies. We will employ a post-doctoral researcher and a research assistant to undertake a mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative) investigation into these themes. The institutional environment that impacts on agricultural adaptive capacity is one theme. Conflicting objectives and misalignment of policies and programs is seen as an important challenge. Clearly identifying the barriers, why they exist, and how they can be overcome will enable more effective policy design and implementation. The impacts of policies and programs on agriculture and on broader social objectives is a second theme. How agriculture adapts to climate change reflects both biophysical changes and socio-economic factors. Examining the impact of existing and potential policies across agriculture – by farm size, by commodity, by environmental vulnerability, etc. – will identify those policies that support flexible, innovative adaptations and societal environmental objectives. This knowledge will help facilitate innovative adaptation solutions and enhance consistency between agricultural adaptation to climate change and achieving broader environmental goals. Our third theme focuses on farmer decisions. Farmers make their adaptation choices within a social and economic context. Delving into the decision process will help identify how knowledge about the changing climate, awareness of adaptation opportunities, and attitudes and norms impact on adaptation choices, and thereby better design programs supporting farmer adaptation choices.Job DescriptionThe successful candidate will undertake a mixed methods case study approach to investigate the opportunities and barriers for agricultural adaptation to climate change in the Okanagan and Cariboo regions of British Columbia. The research will explore these opportunities and barriers in the three theme areas of: (a) the institutional impacts on adaptation opportunities, (b) the impact of existing and potential policies, and (c) the process of farmer decision making related to climate change adaptation. The anticipated methods used for the case studies include: interviews with producers, with people within the governance system, and with additional stakeholders who may be impacted by adaptation decisions made within the agriculture sector; collection and analysis of data held by government agencies at various levels and by interested NGOs; surveys of producers and other key participants in the sector, and the application of appropriate qualitative and statistical methods to the data collected through interviews, surveys, and from secondary sources. Enhancing the ability of the academic, government and industry sectors connected to agriculture to collaborate around agriculture’s adaptation to climate change is a central project objective. The successful candidate is expected to coordinate regularly with the project partners both to share results and solicit input towards maximizing the value of the project work for agriculture. A half time project coordinator will be hired to assist with communications, logistical needs, and knowledge mobilization activities. The successful candidate will assist in the supervision of the project coordinator.

The successful candidate will also play a central role in developing a SSHRC Partnership Grant proposal during the second year of the position. The Partnership will extend the methodologies developed during this project to other key agricultural regions within British Columbia and beyond the provinces borders.

Skills Required

1. Completion of a Ph.D. in a suitable field.

2.Demonstrated experience with at least two of the anticipated methodologies (design and administration of interviews, systematic analysis of regulatory systems, design and administration of questionnaires, design and administration of multivariate statistical analysis).

3.Demonstrated capacity to master required methodologies.

4.Strong command of spoken and written English.

5.Experience working with producers/workers in a resource sector, ideally agriculture.

6.Demonstrated capacity to work in diverse teams.

Working Conditions

The main location will be the Okanagan campus of the University of British Columbia. Travel to meet with research partners, producers, and other stakeholders is integral to both the data collection and the knowledge dissemination. Research travel will largely extend through the Okanagan Cariboo regions of British Columbia (the highway 97 corridor between Williams Lake and Osoyoos).

The position is funded for two years, with a salary of $45,000 per year, plus benefits.The successful candidate will be appointed to the Department of Economics, Philosophy and Political Science at the Okanagan campus of the University of British Columbia.

Application Procedure

Please send applications to . Applications must include a CV, transcripts (unofficial is sufficient) for your two most recent degrees, names and contact information for three references, and a covering letter describing your interests and relevant experience that make you a good candidate for this position. The review of applications will begin immediately and continue until a suitable candidate is found.