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UNESCO-IHE International Graduate School for Water and Development

Sustainable water use is characterised by complex, so-called wicked, problems where traditional assumptions of causality and predictability may not apply. The fundamental importance of better connections between science, policy and society provides new demands on PhD graduates, who are increasingly expected to possess not only a deep knowledge of their own discipline, but are additionally capable of placing that knowledge in a wider understanding of societal needs.

To help meet these challenges, the UNESCO-IHE International Graduate School for Water and Development has been established. The aim of the Graduate School is to create a vibrant and intellectually exciting research and development environment at the heart of the institute. The Graduate School supports the PhD fellows and the institute to contribute to the global challenges for sustainable water use.

The Graduate School is chaired by Professor Ken Irvine and informed by a PhD programme committee that includes academic staff from all departments and the Education Bureau, along with the PhD Fellows themselves represented by a PhD Association Board Member.

At UNESCO-IHE, more than 135 PhD researchers from around the world are brought together to participate in problem-focused and solution oriented research on water and development issues.

PhD Programme

Conducting research at UNESCO-IHE is a unique experience. Fellows work together with other researchers – including around 20 post-docs, 135 PhD fellows, and over 200 MSc students from different countries – all dealing with topics related to water and the environment. PhD fellows participate in problem-oriented research with relevance for development, by joining an existing research programme or by defining their own research topic within UNESCO-IHE’s research themes.

Our fellows address the global water agenda, and solve problems relevant to the water and environment sectors world-wide, as a contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals and other mandates from the international community. This is often done in collaboration with the Institute’s vast network of research institutions throughout the world.

UNESCO-IHE’s PhD degrees are awarded jointly with a university. The degrees are highly valued and fully recognised in all parts of the world. The nominal time span of a PhD programme is four years.

UNESCO-IHE is a member of the Research School for Socio-Economic and Natural Sciences of the Environment (SENSE). This Dutch research school focuses on both the natural sciences and socio-economic fields of environmental research. SENSE is accredited by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences (KNAW), and brings together excellent academic research groups from nine universities and research centres.

A UNESCO-IHE PhD fellowship broadens your horizon

One of the richest characteristics of our PhD Fellow community is its diversity. We have Fellows from more than 40 different countries from Asia, Africa, North and South America, and Europe, coming from a wide array of religious, ethical and cultural backgrounds. Additionally, improving the representation of women in the PhD program remains a priority. Our PhD Fellows fall into five major categories: Sandwich PhD Fellow, Resident PhD Fellow, External or visiting PhD Fellow, Research assistant and Staff. While the composition varies from year to year, UNESCO-IHE PhD Fellows generally comprise about 50- 60% sandwich Fellows, 30 – 40% resident Fellows, and the remaining as external or staff.

Find more information on how to apply here