Interdisciplinary PhD School

Interdisciplinary PhD School - Module 2


Interdisciplinary Research: Epistemic issues Theories, Processes and Academic career


Wednesday 07 - Friday 09 November 2018

University of Geneva (Valais Campus) - Sion

Deadlines for application: 22 September 2018

Organizer: Prof. Frédéric Darbellay
Language: English
Credits: 6 ECTS
Number of participants: limited to 15


Voices of PhD students, first edition Module 2 (2017)

"All speakers invited have shared with us great insights."

"Engagement of different speakers from different disciplines and educational backgrounds."

"I personally benefited greatly from the hands-on exercises embedded in different  sessions. These exercices provided us with aninteresting and supportive environment, in which we could explore and experiment."

"It was the very first PhD School on this topic, and it has been a pleasant and resourceful process for all of us. My wish for the future,  if at all feasible, is for this PhD School to continue and evolve - it's a great initiative."

"I'm genuinely content with the organization of this PhD School. I look very much forward to witnessing  the development of it, andhopefully to contribute to it should circumstance allows. Thanks to the team and to all contributors! :)"



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 and reasons for engaging in transformative research between and beyond disciplinary boundaries.

The theories and models of interdisciplinarity, as well as the different concepts of disciplinarity, pluridisciplinarity, interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity, are defined in such a way as to make them accessible to doctoral students for implementation in their thesis path. The stages of an individual and/or collaborative interdisciplinary research process are also dealt with, on the basis of examples and in a spirit of discovery, innovation and creativity. PhD students will finally undertake a self-reflexive approach on the place of interdisciplinarity in their thesis research (conceptual, theoretical, epistemological issues), its potentialities and its pitfalls/limitations, as well as its impact on their past, present and future academic identity and trajectory (career plan, evaluation, publication, strategies).


  • To present theoretical and epistemological advances in inter- and transdisciplinary research. Mastering epistemological backgrounds and theories of interdisciplinarity.
  • To define the concepts of disciplinarity, pluridisciplinarity, interdisciplinarity, transdisciplinarity, their epistemological foundations and their relevance to thesis work. Mastering the concepts and relate them to the thesis work, in order to ensure coherence and integration between disciplinary points of view.
  • To understand the stages of construction of an interdisciplinary research project involving several disciplines, theoretical frameworks and epistemological horizons. Mastering the complexity of the interdisciplinary research process
  • To examine the activity and the skills of the "interdisciplinary" researcher: to discover paths of interdisciplinary researchers and to exchange with and between doctoral students on the potentialities but also the pitfalls/limitations of interdisciplinary work (centers of interest, academic and professional career, identity and trajectory, publication, evaluation, etc.), particularly in the context of doctoral research. Making interdisciplinarity a means of self-reflection and a factor of success in the academic career.


  • Lectures and Discussions.
  • Workshops and Round tables
  • Exchanges of practices and testimonies of interdisciplinarity in research (in Humanities and Social Sciences, and in Natural, Life and technical Sciences).



Wednesday 07.11.2018

Interdisciplinarity: Theories and Concepts

  • History and origins of interdisciplinarity
  • Epistemology of interdisciplinarity
  • Concepts, theories, models of interdisciplinarity

Lectures, Workshops, Round table

Keynote speakers:


Thursday 08.11.2018

Interdisciplinary Research Process: Innovation and Creativity

  • Interdisciplinary research process (development and implementation)
  • Individual vs. collective interdisciplinarity
  • Interdisciplinarity as a creative process of discovery and scientific innovation

Lectures, Workshops, Round table

Keynote speakers:
Prof. Todd Lubart, Université Paris Descartes
Véronique Hillen, Dean of Paris
Prof. Jörg Balsiger, Université de Genève

Friday 09.11.2018

Interdisciplinarity: Self-transformation

  • Interdisciplinarity in the thesis path
  • Interdisciplinarity and academic identity transformation
  • Academic career, publication and evaluation

Lectures, Workshops, Round table

Keynote speakers:
Prof. Jakob Zinsstag-Klopfenstein, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, President Network for Transdisciplinary Research (td-net), Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences
Prof. Philip D. Jaffé, Université de Genève
Prof. Karl Hanson, Université de Genève
Prof. Nicolas Levrat, Université de Genève


6 ECTS (between 150-180 hours of work)

The module includes:
- Classroom-training (3 days) (1 ECTS)
- Reading program (1 ECTS)
- Preparatory work for Classroom-training (2 ECTS)
- Individual training course (Portfolio) (2 ECTS)


University of Geneva (Valais Campus)

Center for Children’s Rights Studies
Chemin de l'Institut 18
1967 Bramois/Sion, Suisse


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