Master in Innovation, Human Development, and Sustainability

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The University of Geneva (UNIGE) has been partnering with Tsinghua University (THU), China’s top university, a highly interdisciplinary Master program on the UN SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) since September 2017. This program is part of a broader collaboration on the SDGs, including summer schools, executive training and an exchange program, called the Geneva-Tsinghua Initiative.

Compared to other Master programs dealing with the SDGs, this one will focus on defining and developing concrete institutional solutions for the SDGs through hands-on, team-based and project-driven activities, in parallel with courses on the fundamentals of sustainable development in all its dimensions - human, environmental and institutional – taught by experts from UNIGE, THU and a range of Inter-Governmental Organizations (IGOs) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Geneva.

A special focus of this Master is an intercultural experience between Switzerland and China, and more specifically between Geneva (the city with the most international organizations in the world), Beijing (THU main campus in the capital’s high-tech Zhongguancun district) and Shenzhen (THU graduate campus in the city that is the dynamo of production and innovation in China). Courses given by experts in China provide deep insight into how the world’s largest economy is tackling major sustainable development issues.

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This Master program is highly interdisciplinary and welcomes strongly motivated candidates from a broad range of backgrounds, including bachelor degrees in social and political sciences, economics, geography and environmental sciences as well as information technology, engineering and applied sciences. Student cohorts will be balanced between European, Chinese and other regions, to ensure a highly multicultural experience. 

Admission criteria and procedures


Career opportunities

Candidates will gain both theoretical understanding and practical field experience that will prepare for employment on sustainable development projects, which are increasingly strategic for both public and private sector institutions as well as in the UN, other IGOs and NGOs.


Teaching concept

During the first year in Geneva, students will learn about the international organizations and their strategic activities for the SDGs. Scholars working in the UN, other IGOs and NGOs will be strongly involved in the program. Hands-on and team-based interdisciplinary projects throughout the teaching program, with dedicated mentorship from experts in Geneva’s international organizations.

Three specialization modules will be available:

  • Sustainable Human Development
  • Standards, Governance and Sustainability
  • Sustainable Cities and Territories

During the second year students will focus on sustainable development in the context of the world’s largest economy. One semester will be spent in Beijing and Shenzen. Strong involvement of scholars working with national and regional government institutions on public policy issues related to sustainable development, as well as opportunities to interact with the high-tech entrepreneurial environments in Beijing and China, and be part of teams that conceive, design and develop practical hardware, software and policy solutions for tracking progress towards sustainable development. Master thesis work can be carry out in Geneva, China or a relevant developing region.

The full program will be published in this webpage within the next few months.


Scientific committee

  • Prof. Bernard Debarbieux (Geneva School of Social Sciences)
  • Prof. François Grey (Center for computing)
  • Prof. Basile Zimmermann (Faculty of Humanities)
  • Prof. Anthony Lehmann (Faculty of Sciences)
  • Prof. Jaya Krishnakumar (Geneva School of Economics and Management)
  • Prof. Nicolas Levrat (Faculty of Law)
  • Prof. Jörg Balsiger (Geneva School of Social Sciences)
  • Dr. Susana Perdiz (Rectorate)



Mathieu Petite, Academic Advisor
T. +41 (0)22 379 80 07



Overall presentation of the Master – Welcome session cohort 2017
Rules and regulations and administrative procedures of the Master – Welcome session cohort 2017