Opportunity for funded Master’s Degree in Geography
at the University of Victoria

With support from the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), Dr. Sophia Carodenuto (Principal Investigator) is offering a 2-year funded graduate Research Assistant position through the project “Follow the bean: Tracing zero deforestation cocoa.” This opportunity is for an early-stage researcher interested in conducting field work in Côte d’Ivoire (the largest cocoa exporting country) on sustainable cocoa production and trade as part of a Master’s degree in Geography at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada.

Project overview

The chocolate industry recently announced a public commitment to end deforestation and restore forest areas in cocoa origins (known as the Cocoa & Forests Initiative). Given the novelty of this program, little scientific research has supported the understanding of the effectiveness of zero deforestation commitments and their impacts on smallholder farmers and local supply chain actors. This research aims to amplify the voice of smallholder producers and their immediate local partners, whose everyday realities are often obscured through the commodification and globalization of cocoa.

The project has been designed to provide the financial support and supervision required for a bilingual (English/French) Geography Master’s student to produce a high-quality thesis based on international field work. The student will be involved in the planning, execution, and dissemination of research, and have significant responsibility for achieving the research objectives.

Job Description

This Master’s position will include a year of coursework on theory and research methods to prepare the student to subsequently embark on a semi-independent research project in the second year of their program. Under close supervision of the Principal Investigator, the student will apply the methodological training received in their coursework to design data collection strategies, conduct a literature review, and devise a field work schedule and detailed plan for the time spent in Côte d’Ivoire.

The student will accompany the Principal Investigator on a six-week field stay with cocoa farming communities in Côte d’Ivoire. The student will work closely with two local Research Assistants based in Côte d’Ivoire, hired to support data collection and knowledge dissemination. Through interviews and focus groups, the aim is to better understand how cocoa moves from producer to export, focusing especially on the relationship between smallholder cocoa producers, cooperatives, and their supply chain partners to assess where change is needed to achieve zero deforestation commitments.


In order to apply, applicants must have obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies, Anthropology, Political Science, Geography, or related field. Strong written and oral skills in English and French are a requirement for a successful applicant, and applicants will be expected to demonstrate excellent communication, writing, and organizational skill. Those with work experience will be preferred, with particular preference for those with field work experience in Africa. Demonstrated experience following protocol in community-engaged research is especially welcome. Either MA or MSc degree is possible based on student background and aspirations.


The University of Victoria (UVic) Department of Geography is proud to be a space for high quality and conscientious research and teaching. We are an interdisciplinary unit, and much of our work is possible thanks to close partnerships with community members and groups, both locally and around the world. You will be part of an exciting graduate program that brings together students with diverse backgrounds and interests to learn together in a supportive environment.

Through the SSHRC project, this position offers grant-funded employment in addition to fully funding all costs related to field work. Further, the Department of Geography offers fellowships based on previous scholarly performance for students with GPAs more than more than 7 (on UVic’s 9 point scale; ~A-). The Department also offers all graduate students employment as a Specialist Instructor (or Teaching Assistant). There is a guaranteed minimum income of $17,500 for at least the first academic year, which can be extended to cover the second year. The student is expected to apply for further grant-based funding in the second year. Please see the Geography funding information page for more information.

Expected start date

September 2021, with field work scheduled to begin May 2022.

Working location

The student will be based at the University of Victoria in Canada, except for the time spent in the field.


Deadline is November 30, 2020 but early applications are highly encouraged. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis.

Interested individuals should email Dr. Carodenuto (carodenuto@uvic.ca) with a statement of interest in the form of a cover letter (1-2 pages), a recent CV including two references that can be contacted, and an academic writing sample. Please specify in your application how your past academic and work experience has prepared you for fulfilling the tasks required of this position. For questions and further information on the position, please contact Dr. Sophia Carodenuto at carodenuto@uvic.ca

posted: 07 August 2020     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.