GTI PhD Program

This program provides unique opportunities for interdisciplinary PhD studies at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), in collaboration with Tsinghua University and Geneva-based International Organisations (IOs) and Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs). Please note that the GTI itself is not an academic department: students must be enrolled at one of UNIGE’s Faculties and their supervisor has to validate their participation to the GTI PhD program.

This program provides support to PhD students through coaching sessions and seminars, as well as hands-on team activities that the PhD students carry out together, such as mentoring Bachelor student teams in the SDG Summer School or students from the SDG Dual Master Program.

The GTI PhD Program encourages students to periodically report their research progress in different media formats, and to explore ways to spin off results of their research, while coaching them toward excellence in science. Current GTI PhD students have different backgrounds, such as social sciences, geographic information systems, business administration or health systems. All of them work towards practical solutions for the implementation of the SDGs.

Each PhD student is embedded part-time or full-time with an IO or NGO, where they have dedicated mentors, with the goal of strengthening the collaboration between that organization and academia. Through the connections they make, GTI PhD students help identify challenges that could be addressed through R&D carried out by young researchers (Bachelor and Master level) in the GTI educational programs. They also share these challenges via networks and platforms, so that a much wider range of academic institutions can take part in solving them.

Each GTI PhD student develops their unique research path with the aim of achieving research excellence in a well-defined academic field while ensuring that results of their research on sustainable development issues have a maximum impact on the real world, through interdisciplinary collaboration and emphasis on social and institutional innovation.


The activities planned under the GTI PhD Student Program include:

  • Evolution of the PhD students through periodic pitching sessions. Each student pitches once a month to other students. The pitch should report progress, raise awareness about challenging research issues and encourage collaboration.
  • Students are invited to propose keynote speakers to be invited to these seminars, from other parts of the University, International Geneva or visiting experts, empowering collaboration with top researchers in their area.
  • Organizing special events (meetups, hackathons, Think Camps) for sharing and consolidating best practices in innovation for the SDGs.
  • Participating in a series of lectures that are given about how to produce and disseminate excellent research. The lectures cover:
    • The scientific writing process.
    • The review and publication process.
    • Assessing the impact of journals and conferences.
    • Understanding research careers and actively exploring young researcher funding schemes both at the local, national and international (European) levels.
    • Developing skills that support alternative metrics for scientific communication, such as science blogging, effective use of social networks, video production and spinning off innovation.