4th PhD Summer School 2017


Sustainability and Risks – How to deal with risk issues in sustainability research?

Date 10 – 14 July 2017, University of Basel, Switzerland

Nothing is as risky as our future. Sustainability serves as comprehensive model to deal with complex and future-oriented risks. And reversely, to promote sustainable development we need to analyse and manage all sorts of risks, be it economic, social or natural risks – or a complex conglomerate of them. In science, we find a whole bunch of disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches to link sustainability and risks. How can we safely navigate through this extensive field? What are sound approaches of sustainability with regard to risks and vice versa? And how can we empirically assess, manage and govern risks within the framework of sustainable development?

The 4th international PhD Summer School ‘Research on Sustainable Development’ considers questions of conceptual and empirical linkages between sustainability and risk issues. It provides a platform to discuss this topic in a highly interdisciplinary and inspiring atmosphere. The participants will learn how to thoroughly deal with risk issues in their research and acquire a rationalized basis for substantiated scientific contributions. Distinguished guest speakers will give inputs and comment on the participants’ presentations.

The PhD Summer School will be highly interactive. Participants will receive a certificate of participation and 3 ECTS. The course will be held in English.


Participants will:

  • get to know scientific understandings of sustainability and risks
  • acquire an approach to systematically link sustainability and risk issues
  • clarify conceptual assumptions and empirical approaches, in order to make original research contributions
  • get detailed feedback from senior experts and peers
  • experience the interdisciplinary discourse in sustainability sciences and learn how to locate their research in this context
  • get to know finely selected international PhD students who research in the context of sustainability and risks

Preliminary Schedule
Sunday Monday Tuesday
Natural Sciences
Social Sciences
Opening & Poster Session Guest speaker:
Prof. Dr. Stefan Baumgärtner

Presentations of Participants
Guest speaker:
Prof. Dr. Alexander Zehnder

Presentations of Participants
Start: 11:00
Guest speaker:
Prof. Dr. Ortwin Renn

Presentations of Participants
Concluding Workshop
Introductionary Workshop on Conception of Sustainability ongoing ongoing ongoing Workshop & Presentations (ending approx. at 16:00)
Welcome Event Evening event ongoing
Target group

Advanced PhD students from any discipline, who research in the fields of sustainability and risks and who are passionate about furthering the vivid interdisciplinary discourse.

Contributions of participants

The PhD Summer School is highly interactive and requires active attendance from the participants, including:

  • oral presentation, commented by senior experts and peers
  • presentation of a poster
  • preliminary writing of a short text on how you link sustainability and risks in your research
  • preliminary reading of texts

Guest speakers

Our guest speakers are recognized experts in sustainability sciences with a specific focus on risks. They are well known for their ability to think outside the disciplinary boxes.

Natural Sciences

Prof. Dr. Alexander Zehnder, visiting professor, Nanyang Technological University NTU, Singapore, and director Triple Z GmbH, Zurich – a renowned and widely networked expert in issues around water and sustainability.


Prof. Dr. Stefan Baumgärtner, University of Freiburg, Germany – one of the most distinguished environmental economists in Germany with a profound background in interdisciplinarity and theory.

Social Sciences

Prof. Dr. Ortwin Renn, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam, Germany – an internationally acknowledged and leading scientist in risk governance and sustainability issues.

Organizers and Contributors from the University of Basel


To apply, send the following documents by 30 April 2017 to Dr. Marius Christen:

  • a letter of motivation including your affiliation and your year of PhD (max. 200 words)
  • a description of your PhD research concerning the following questions (max. 400 words):
    • What is the aim of your PhD research?
    • In what respect is your research contributing to sustainability sciences and linked to risks?
    • What methods do you use?
  • one full paper of your PhD research (draft or published)

The number of participants is limited to 15. There will be no attendance fee. Travel expenses and board and lodging are up to the participants. For participants with low income there will be support in local lodging possibilities.

Fee & Grants

There will be no attendance fee.

Travel expenses and board and lodging are up to the participants. Unfortunately, we cannot provide any grants for travel and daily expenses.

For participants with low income we provide lodging possibilities with local students. For further information please contact Dr. Marius Christen.

Recommended Accommodation Possibilities in Basel

Low Budget:
- Youthhostel Basel
- Basel Backpack
- YMCA Hostel Basel

Medium Budget:
- wimdu.com - Apartments (for groups)
- We also recommend couchsurfing.org

There will be a limited number of places available to stay with students from the University of Basel. Please contact Dr. Marius Christen for further information.


The University of Basel provides a good and reasonably priced canteen in walking distance from the venue.

Getting around in Basel

Basel is a fantastic city offering a great number of touristic attractions and recreation possibilities – for example a swim in the Rhine through the historic town.

Further information on the City of Basel can be found at Basel’s tourism office.

Basel has very good public transportation. Further information can be found at Basel’s transport site. Note that some hostels include free use of public transport during the stay.


Dr. Marius Christen, marius.christen@unibas.ch

Phd Summer School

Phd Summer School

Phd Summer School

Phd Summer School

17.01.2017, C. Chebbi