Inter- et transdisciplinarité

Interdisciplinary PhD School


To offer a full range of interdisciplinary courses (BA, MA, MAS, PhD) and better articulate training with interdisciplinary research, the Global Studies Institute offers an interdisciplinary PhD in global studies from the 2015 academic year onward.

From 2017 onward, the Global Studies Institute in collaboration with the Interfaculty Center for Children’s Rights Studies and the support of swissuniversities organise an innovative PhD school.

Interdisciplinary PhD School / Modules / Application

This new doctoral program meets the needs of researchers and students wishing to continue their academic careers in the fertile path of interdisciplinarity. Just like other academic institutions which recently developed interdisciplinary doctorates, the University of Geneva intends to prepare a new generation of researchers to think about contemporary problems related to globalization which lay at the touching points of different disciplines.

Let us not forget interdisciplinarity is not in competition with existing disciplines. It relies instead on the vitality of disciplinary work, developing methods to enable researchers – collectively or individually – to create a dialogue between disciplinary approaches in order to respond to problems and answer questions either too complex or too broad to be processed by a single discipline. In this sense interdisciplinarity aims to produce new knowledge, promoting a "transformative" research ("transformative research", in the words of the US National Science Board in 2007 already). Such interdisciplinary research aims, on the one hand, to change perspectives on a number of objects or disciplinary research methods and allows, on the other hand, the development of new theories, concepts, and methods in a spirit of innovation and discovery. In this respect, interdisciplinarity nourishes the disciplines it brings into dialogue, in a virtuous circle that should be stimulated and maintained.

From the emergence of infectious diseases to wicked pattern of conflicts, from the unsustainable management of natural resources to the destruction of biodiversity, from widespread economic hardship to the rise of inequalities, our contemporary challenges exhibit high level of complexity. Researching these global issues characterized by interconnections and interdependence, integration and fragmentation, instability and surprises, requires more than ever innovative research approaches that transcend disciplinary boundaries. As the collaboration between disciplines has become an essential part of research, developing an active community of doctoral researchers reflecting on the challenges and obstacles associated with interdisciplinarity is paramount for fostering excellence in research.

The Global Studies in collaboration with the Interfaculty Centre for Children’s Rights Studies offers a PhD school constituted of three modules tailored to the need of doctoral students interested in studying globalization and global governance through critical, systems, and interdisciplinary approaches.

Each module balances expert teaching with more participative pedagogy.

Module 1 Critical perspectives on globalization
Anchored in the field of international relations, the global governance module aims to provide doctoral candidates the necessary background, theories, and methods in the study of global affairs including political sciences and international law. While Globalization is often understood as the growing integration of economies worldwide, it is in fact characterized by complex dynamics of integration and fragmentation that extend far beyond the economic sector to cover all sectors. The emergence of the concept of global governance in the last twenty years marks the complexification of international relations and the rise of new actors such as business, NGOs, private foundations and public private partnerships.

Date 03 – 07 July 2017
Organizer: Prof. Nicolas Levrat
Language: English
Credits: 6 ECTS
Number of participants: 25
Location: University of Geneva

More information about Module 1

Module 2 Interdisciplinary research: Epistemic issues, theories, processes and academic career
This module aims to sensitize and train doctoral students to the theories and concepts that underpin interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research. By explaining the origins and recent developments of interdisciplinarity from the perspective of history, philosophy and epistemology of the sciences, doctoral students are trained and cognitively equipped to understand motivations, reasons and engaging in transformative research between and beyond disciplinary boundaries.

Date 07 – 09 November 2018
Organizer: Prof. Frédéric Darbellay
Language: English
Credits: 6 ECTS
Number of participants: limited to 15
Location: University of Geneva (Valais Campus, Sion)

More information about Module 2

Module 3 Interdisciplinary toolbox to study global issues
While an important development of the science of inter- and transdisciplinarity has taken place in the last 30 years, interdisciplinary research methods are rarely thought. The module remedies this situation by providing a structured approach to designing and performing interdisciplinary research with a focus on concrete strategies and methods. The target audience are researchers (doctoral candidates and more advanced) that have already an understanding of interdisciplinarity and associated challenges and seek to strengthen their methodological approach in a specific project.

Date: 5 – 9 February 2018
Organizer: Dr. Didier Wernli
Language: English
Credits: 6 ECTS
Number of participants: limited to 15
Location: University of Geneva

More information about Module 3 


To be eligible, applicants must hold a master’s degree and be engaged in a doctoral dissertation. More advanced researchers are welcome to attend. As the three modules provide a coherent approach to study global issues from an interdisciplinarity perspective, participants are encouraged to attend all of them. However, each module can be attended separately according to the need of the participants  

Attendance is free of charge. Some support is provided for accommodation for doctoral researchers pursuing their PhD in higher education institutions in Switzerland. For further enquiries and registration to the module(s), please send an email to gsiphdschool(at)

To apply, please send as a pdf of word document:

  • A motivation letter (maximum of 500 words)
  • A short CV
  • Summary of the doctoral project (maximum of 500 words)
  • A letter of reference from PhD supervisor

In your email, please specify in which module(s), you would like to participate.

Deadlines for registration are the following:

  • Module 1: 20 May 2017
  • Module 2: 18 September 2017
  • Module 3: 22 December 2017