What is a Collaborative PhD?

Transdisciplinary Collaborative PhDs on Global Challenges

As the world increasingly faces ‘wicked problems’ that are by definition complex and poorly defined or understood, research must engage multiple disciplinary, methodological and epistemological approaches, as well as multiple actors. (See the example given below.)

Tomorrow’s scholars, both inside and outside the academy, need to have a breadth and depth of understanding, an ability to see and respond to multiple perspectives, the capacity to adapt to different ways of thinking and environments, and the ability to both collaborate and communicate effectively with diverse audiences.

“Collaborative Ph.D.s” involve students working with different supervisors, in different departments/programs and disciplines, to address a common complex, real world problem. The dissertation would involve sole- or multi-authored components, with at least some elements solely authored (as is appropriate for a given discipline), but at least one component would be co-authored by students from diverse disciplinary locations.

Would this collaborative approach to transdisciplinary research work for students in your program? Please come to this exploratory workshop at G+PS to be a part of the effort to realize this kind of program at UBC.

A Collaborative PhD? What, Why, How.

11 June 2020, 2-3:30 p.m.

(Please RSVP; Zoom information will be sent)

Example: The Global Challenge is child malnutrition in the developing world

There are many factors leading to malnutrition, including long-term diarrhea, altered gut microbiomes, limited food access, historical power structures, nutrient limitations in available food, low literacy, lack of clean water, and limited knowledge regarding diet and hygiene.

Students involved in the Challange are from History, Asian Studies, Political Science, Microbiology and Immunology, Land and Food Systems, Population and Public Health, Education, GRSJ (Gender, Race and Social Justice), Civil Engineering, ISGP (with a supervisor from SCARP), Sauder, and IRES.

Students are recruited by involved faculty to address the common issue. In their first year or two, the students (with supervisors) identify key research questions and decide how to approach these collaboratively. The team develops as a whole, and sub-groups devise common as well as individual research programs to address the multiple facets of this problem.

What would/should such a program look like, for you and your colleagues?