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About the courses

The Sustainable development and cooperation PhD program will train students to become “leaders in sustainability” within public or private research institutes, non-profit organisations, international development agencies or environmental certification agencies.

To acquire an education in sustainable development, the student must foster a  complex set of skills from a diverse range of  disciplines: the life sciences, earth science, physics, economics, law, history, geography and archaeology. This interaction of  the environmental, socio-cultural and economic spheres, requires the creation and development of tools and models that cross disciplinary boundaries.

The SUSTNET program is designed to provide analytical know-how, methodological and practical skills to help students gain up-to-date knowledge on the rapidly deteriorating state of natural, social, and economic environments and to understand how to plan and implement sustainable practices.

To reach this objective, PhD students are assigned to a team of experts in at least two  different ERC domains (including LS6, LS7, LS8, LS9, SH1, SH2, SH3, SH4, SH5, SH6, SH7, PE1, PE4, PE10), who will share their existing experience and skills in ecological, cultural, social, and economic sustainability. The tutor team (TT) will be responsible for planning the research and training activities of the student.  


Research and training activities

In order to successfully  complete their PhD, students will need to obtain 180 ECTS through 1) research activities; 2) specific disciplinary and interdisciplinary courses; 3) soft skills training. Furthermore, the student will be required to attend courses or training offered by a second institution for at least 3 months.

Research activities

Research activities are the core of the PhD program, and consists in the development of a research project under the supervision of a Tutor-Team. The TT will train the PhD students on the specific aspects of their research, help them plan their research, and discuss any issues and achievements on a daily basis.

Both the research topic and the tutors are assigned by the PhD board within three months of the beginning of the PhD.

Read more about the main research topics addressed in the PhD programme.

Mandatory training

One interdisciplinary mandatory course (20 ECTS) will be taught each year (80 hours) by members of the PhD board and external tutors, who will use a combination of frontal teaching (online and/or in presence), student/teamwork presentations, laboratory/field practicals. These core activities will be complemented by a cycle of “SUSTNET seminars” with invited speakers from partner institutions and collaborators. At the end of the module, students will be required to pass an exam. It is a mandatory requirement that students attend a minimum of 75% of the learning activities.

The interdisciplinary courses will be:

2021-22 Sustainable human-environment interactions – Ref. Beatrice Demarchi

2022-23 Food security & sustainable food processing – Ref. Gabriele Beccaro

2023-24 One health & sustainable socio-emotional development – Ref. Ornella Abollino

Non-mandatory training

Additional (non-mandatory) disciplinary and interdisciplinary courses and seminars will also be offered and promptly advertised. The timetable is planned yearly by the PhD board.

2021-22 Modelling animal movement and habitat selection for sustainability analysis of conservation programs - Ref. Achaz von Hardenberg in English 4 ECTS

2021-22 Marine Soundscape and bioindicators of acoustic disturbance - Ref. Elena Papale in English 3 ECTS

2021-22 Sustainability of animal production - Ref. Cecilia Mugnai 6 ECTS

2021-22 Science communication and public engagement - Ref. Giampiero Vigani 4 ECTS

2021-22 Academic English - Ref. Jemma Faye Clair Robinson 5 ECTS

2022-23 Plant and Microbial Biology for the Environment - Ref. Marco Mucciarelli 6 ECTS


Furthermore, students will be encouraged to attend courses which are more specifically geared towards acquiring skills needed to carry out their PhD research. These will be discussed and decided with the TT. With regard to the acquisition of soft skills, PhD students are strongly encouraged to attend the courses offered by the PhD school of the University of Torino, and the other Universities within the network, which address more general issues, such as mobility opportunities, career development, fund raising, bibliography and bibliometry; Academic English and “Ethics in publication”, multilinguistic skills.

Seminars and conferences

You can access information on seminars and conferences clicking here.

Last update: 16/11/2022 11:39
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