5 KLI Writing-up Fellowships on

“Cognition and Knowledge:
Between Evolution and Sustainability”


The Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research (KLI) in Klosterneuburg (Austria) announces 5 Writing-Up Fellowships for late-stage PhD students working on topics related to “Cognition and Knowledge: Between Evolution and Sustainability.


The Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research (KLI) is an independent center of advanced studies in the life and sustainability sciences. The mission of the KLI is to enable scientific reasoning dedicated to understanding and sustaining life in its biological, cognitive, social, and cultural diversity. At the KLI, we are committed to contribute to addressing pressing social-environmental challenges of our time through inter- and transdisciplinary research. We especially support theoretical and conceptual research as well as philosophical and historical work in the life and sustainability sciences. In line with this mission, we recognize equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) as fundamental values of our institute. We believe that only if research institutions engage with the broadest spectrum of views, opinions and experiences will we be able to contribute to addressing the pressing societal and environmental challenges of our world.

Cognition and Knowledge: Between Evolution and Sustainability.

With this call, the KLI aims to support an interdisciplinary cohort of 5 late-stage PhD students whose work use novel interdisciplinary approaches in the study of cognition and knowledge, especially in relation to evolution and to their connection to sustainability.    

Cognition and knowledge have played an essential role in the evolution of life on earth. In recent years, new approaches integrating evolutionary, developmental, and ecological considerations have helped to explain (1) how and why cognition has evolved in different taxa—from microbes to humans—enabling organisms to deal with complex environments. Furthermore, situated, embodied, extended, distributed, and enactive approaches have opened new research avenues to understand (2) how cognition and knowledge contribute to shaping human-environment interactions in different cultures and in our technological societies. All these new interdisciplinary approaches to cognition and knowledge can help to navigate complex sustainability problems—from climate change to loss of biodiversity—which arguably are a consequence of dysfunctional relationships between human societies and the complex biosphere. Interdisciplinary approaches are also important to understand (3) how evolved diversity of cognitive styles and types of knowledge—from neurodiversity to bio-cultural diversity—can be valued, reflected, and fostered, also in academia.

As A Home to Theory that Matters, the KLI will support 5 KLI Writing-Up Fellowship projects that engage with theoretical, philosophical, methodological, and conceptual work in relation to cognition and knowledge in the life and sustainability sciences. Though not exclusively, we look forward to receiving applications especially in the following research areas:

  1. Evolution of cognition and knowledge in multiple taxa   

How can integrated approaches—that combine, among others, evolutionary, developmental, and ecological considerations—contribute to explaining the evolution of cognition and knowledge by helping to:

  • facilitate comparative investigations in humans, non-human primates, and non-primate species as well as in other taxa (from microbes to plants)?
  • formulate theoretical frameworks to explain and evaluate new data (e.g., from neuroscience, developmental biology, and ecology)?
  • integrate insights from multiple disciplines (e.g., anthropology, archaeology, economics, evolutionary biology, neuroscience, philosophy, cognitive science, and psychology)?
  • explain co-evolutionary dynamics such as techno-social co-evolution and/or gene–culture co-evolution in human societies?
  • elucidate the role of individual and/or social learning in social and cultural evolution?
  • contextualize the history of scientific knowledge as part of broader histories of cognition and knowledge?
  1. Cognition and knowledge for more sustainable human-environment interactions

How can approaches to cognition and knowledge—that are situated, embodied, distributed, extended, ecologically-sensitive, and complexity-based—help to deal with sustainability problems when attempting to:

  • explain cognitive and behavioral patterns and processes (e.g., biases) that underpin unsustainable social norms, practices, and behaviors (e.g., overconsumption) or foster more sustainable individual and collective practices and pro-social behaviors?
  • investigate the so-called value-action gap or knowledge-action gap in our modern technological societies as well as develop concepts how to overcome this gap?
  • capture the interconnections between individual and collective cognition and knowledge in different cultures and societies within the complex biosphere?
  • support collaborative processes that include multiple actors and involve individual and social learning (e.g., knowledge co-production, transdisciplinary research) to generating knowledge, action, and change towards sustainability?
  1. Cognition and knowledge in science  

How can we value, appreciate, mobilize, and capitalize on the evolved diversity of human knowledge and cognitive styles in academia through the study of:

  • cognitive styles and types of knowledge of minorities in research environments (e.g., neurodiversity)?
  • cognition and knowledge in cultures and populations that differ from those that have traditionally informed academic research (e.g., traditional ecological knowledge, indigenous knowledge, knowledge from practice)?

Who is encouraged to apply?

The 5 KLI Writing-Up fellowships aim to support doctoral students in the final stage of their PhD research. Writing-Up fellowships are individual fellowships for researchers in residence and are awarded to work independently on the applicant’s research project supervised by their advisor of their home university. The 5 fellowships are especially well-suited for two categories of PhD students:

  • Those who have completed empirical research and wish to use the Writing-Up fellowship to elaborate on the (conceptual, epistemological, and methodological) underpinnings and implications of their work.
  • Those whose research deals with the historical, philosophical, and conceptual foundations of research in the disciplines mentioned above in relation to diversity.

Both categories of PhD students should be interested in and eager to extend their research perspective by drawing on novel concepts of evolutionary theorizing, philosophy of science, and cognition research based on long-standing work done at the KLI.

Details of the fellowships:

  • Duration: KLI Writing-Up fellowships are awarded for a period of maximum 6 months. The minimum fellowship duration is three months.
  • Starting date: Fellowships must start within the calendar year of 2022. Ideally, a start date in September/October 2022 is encouraged.
  • Eligibility criteria:
    • Applicants must be enrolled in a PhD program.
    • Applicants are in the final stages of their PhD work (as certified by their advisor).

Benefits of working at the KLI:

  • Being part of the KLI Resident Fellowship Program: Students awarded a KLI Writing-Up fellowship will be part of the KLI Resident Fellowship Program and will enjoy all benefits connected to this position.
    • While working on their own project, the Writing-Up fellows will participate in the regular activities of the KLI (e.g., KLI Colloquia, KLI Lab).
    • The Writing-Up fellows will also be able to participate in workshops and professional development activities at the KLI.
    • The successful applicants will work in a highly interdisciplinary environment and will be connected to a wide network of scholars and institutions inside and outside Vienna.
  • Relocation Allowance: The KLI will cover transportation costs for the move to Vienna or Klosterneuburg. The KLI will provide accommodation in the vicinity of the institute for the first two weeks of the fellowship.
  • Travel Budget: KLI Writing-up Fellowship provides a travel budget to attend scientific events related to the project.
  • Use of KLI facilities and library: Each fellow will have a workspace in the beautiful and stimulating facilities of the KLI.

Application and selection procedure


Step 1

Aspiring applicants fill in the Contact Form. Please specify “Cognition and Knowledge: Between Evolution and Sustainability Writing-Up Fellowship” in the motivation section of the form.


Deadline: February 28, 2022



Step 2

The KLI selection committee will notify the aspiring applicant. The successful ones will be invited to submit a full application.


Between February 28 and the end of March, 2022


Step 3

Applicants will submit their full application to the following email address:

Deadline: April 1, 2022




Step 4

The selection committee will send out the application to external referees.



Step 5

The KLI Board of Directors will make a decision about the applications and invite the successful ones for an interview.


Between April and mid- May 2022

Step 6

The interview will take place at the KLI by using video conference technologies.


By the end of May 2022


Step 7



The KLI Board of Directors will make a final decision on the application.


By the end of June 2022

Expected start of fellowship

Step 8

Cohort 2022 of Writing-Up Fellows will start their fellowship at the KLI

September/October 2022


Important: Forms and detailed procedures for the full application will be provided only to applicants after Step 1.



A full application will comprise:

  • Summary of the PhD project
  • Description of the part of the PhD project to be pursued at the KLI during the Writing-Up Fellowship
  • Motivation statement
  • Reference letter from the applicant’s PhD advisor/supervisor
  • CV including publication list

The applications will be selected using the following criteria:

  • Theoretical relevance of the project
  • Interdisciplinary aspects of the project
  • Societal relevance of the project
  • Feasibility of work-plan
  • Fit with the KLI mission and vision