Research

UNU-FLORES & Technische Universität Dresden // Joint PhD in Integrated Management of Water, Soil and Waste

UNU-FLORES and Technische Universität Dresden are now accepting applications from graduates in engineering, social sciences, and natural sciences for their Joint PhD Programme in Integrated Management of Water, Soil, and Waste. The tuition-free programme aims at creating a new generation of environmental scientists, engineers, and managers, to conduct, promote, and provide guidance on the sustainable management of water, soil, and waste.

Highlights

  • The degree is jointly offered by the United Nations University and the Technische Universität Dresden, Germany
  • The focus of the programme is on integrated management of water, soil and waste using a nexus approach, making it the first of its kind
  • The programme has a strong focus on developing countries
  • Students have access to the facilities and services of TUD, one of eleven Universities of Excellence in Germany, as well as the network of UNU Institutes
  • Doctoral research includes close cooperation with UN agencies and programmes as well as other international organizations

Background

United Nations University (UNU) was established in 1973 and is comprised of 13 research institutes and programmes in 12 countries around the world. Even though UNU considers itself mainly as a research-oriented think tank addressing the needs of the UN system and its Member States and a bridge to the academic world, it offers postgraduate training and education programmes at various levels.

The Technische Universität Dresden (TU Dresden) is one of the 11 universities deemed as University of Excellence in Germany and one of the top universities in Europe. As a modern comprehensive, multidisciplinary university, and with its 18 faculties organised in five schools it has a broad and diverse scientific spectrum. The large campus family of TU Dresden is comprised of 37,000 students and approximately 7,900 employees.

The joint PhD programme established at the United Nations University Institute for the Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and of Resources (UNU-FLORES) and the Faculty of Environmental Sciences at TU Dresden is the latest among the very few doctoral programmes UNU currently offers.

Objective

The main objective of this PhD programme is to provide graduate students with detailed knowledge, critical understanding, strategies and tools to take an interdisciplinary and integrated approach towards the management of water, soil and waste.

The joint PhD programme aims at creating a new generation of environmental scientists, engineers and managers to conduct, promote and provide guidance on the sustainable management of water, soil and waste. These resources and their sustainable management are of concern to the United Nations and its member states, particularly to developing countries and emerging economies.

Research Scope

The Joint PhD programme of TU Dresden and UNU, launched in 2015, is embedded within UNU-FLORES’s nexus-oriented research agenda and the corresponding research interests at TU Dresden. The established PhD research projects, co-supervised by researchers from UNU-FLORES and TU Dresden, were designed to reflect nexus thinking on particular problems of environmental resources management focusing on water, soil, and waste.

The United Nations University (UNU) uses its research to inform policymaking and promote positive global change. The work of all UNU institutes contributes to the advancement of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015 to inspire global action to overcome the world’s biggest challenges. In line with the mission of UNU, policy-relevance is a decisive feature or the research conducted at UNU-FLORES, and therefore also the research conducted by PhD students.

While each individual PhD research project must have a clear focus – preferably associated to a case study in a particular country – it must also be framed within the broad picture of integrated resources management as part of a Nexus Approach. The latter aims to connect the generation of evidence-based scientific knowledge to (adapted) management and policies, thus addressing also public services and associated risks.

Due to the focus on integrated management of water, soil, and waste, UNU-FLORES’s research is mainly – but not exclusively – relevant for

  • SDG 2 (zero hunger), e.g., related to sustainable intensification of agriculture, including safe use of wastewater in agriculture, the integration of organic waste into small-holder farming or water productivity in irrigated agriculture;
  • SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation), e.g., related to water quality indicators and monitoring, nature-based solutions for wastewater treatment, monitoring of rural water supply systems or groundwater quality in wastewater treatment systems;
  • SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production), e.g., related to integration of organic waste and wastewater into biomass production, nexus-oriented waste management;
  • SDG 13 (climate action), e.g., related to climate impacts on water and soil management and respective climate adaptation strategies;
  • SDG 15 (life on land), e.g., related to managing multifunctional land-use systems to secure soil- and water related ecosystem services, particularly in dryland areas.

Research projects may address these issues from various perspectives in an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary manner, using a broad range of approaches and methods and building on a diverse set of both quantitative and qualitative data. Typically, our research projects are implemented with additional partners in respective member states or from international organizations, universities, and research institutions; PhD research should follow this model.

About the Programme

The programme is the first international PhD programme addressing integrated resources management in a truly holistic way. Considering that the theme of the joint degree programme is new and unique in the academic world, prospective students are expected to come from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds. To ensure that students have an evenly-matched starting point, and to introduce the basic concepts of the nexus of water, soil, and waste, the programme comprises of 35 course credits (see Courses) in addition to 175 dissertation credits. The total of 210 credits span over seven semesters. The credits are defined in terms of the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).

All coursework is science-based and all courses require basic knowledge in physics, biology, chemistry, and mathematics at undergraduate level. In addition, the courses also require basic knowledge in the social sciences. Courses are offered by academic staff at both universities. In line with UNU-FLORES’s research agenda (see Research) and a matching research agenda of the Faculty of Environmental Sciences, research topics for PhD dissertations (see the current call for applications) are focused on solving current challenges related to the nexus of water, soil, and waste.

PhD dissertations are co-supervised by advisors from both universities. Successfully graduating students receive a joint degree certificate.

Application Period

The window for the current application period is 15 August to 30 September 2018.

To Apply

For more information on the program and application procedure, please visit the UNU-FLORES website

Interested applicant should send their application material in one single pdf file to pgapp_flores@unu.edu. Questions related to the PhD programme should be sent to pginfo_flores@unu.edu. Please note that questions sent to pgapp_flores@unu.edu and applications sent to pginfo_flores@unu.edu will NOT be responded.

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