This PhD Program 'Plant Sciences and Policy' was funded from 2009 - June 2013 through SNSF Prodoc; from 2014 it has been expanded as 'Science and Policy' to include PhD students from several disciplines of life sciences. It is accepted as a structured training program by the Universities of Zurich, Basel and ETH Zurich.

Lay summary

From October 2009, the Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center (PSC, Switzerland) offers a PhD Program in "Plant Sciences and Policy". The PhD program has been lead by Prof. Grossniklaus UZH and Dr. Dahinden and Dr. Paschke, managing directors of the PSC.

2014 it has been opened as “Science and Policy” to all disciplines of life sciences.

The program allows young and talented scientists to do their PhD research in plant sciences while the PSC educates them to engage in a political dialog.

Why choosing a PhD Program in Plant Sciences and Policy?

Our decision to set up a PhD Program that combines life sciences and policy-work is based on the need to train young scientists in their role as interpreters of scientific progress towards policy and the public. This reflects our view that scientific progress requires not only specialization - which is usually provided within the context of a research group - but also the ability to interact and collaborate with our society. It is essential that the next generation of scientists is comfortable with the idea of opening themselves as experts in a certain field and taking thus social responsibility. This requires them to be good researchers and also good communicators and interpreters.

The PSC PhD Program in Science and Policy offers workshops for obtaining skills and tools for policy-work exploring the trajectory of policy work from evidence-based policy making to stakeholder engagement, communicating science, building political support and contributing to a policy action plan.

The learning objectives of the program are:
(*) understanding the context of policy-work in Switzerland and on international level;
(*) learning how to apply tools used to facilitate and support policy-making;
(*) developing communication skills, including the ability to present scientific results to different interest groups;
(*) developing skills in stakeholder management;
(*) developing networking skills with national and international NGOs, organizations and governmental departments; and
(*) developing scientific responsibility.

In the program, the PSC collaborates currently with 80 national NGOs and organizations who are involved in policy work related to plant sciences (see output data).

With “Plant Science and Policy” we have raised awareness of the importance of plant sciences for sustainable development of our society. By disseminating good practices, stimulating education and research, and promoting policy debate and development we aimed to advance postgraduate education and at the same time foster tolerance, and diminish barriers between science and society. The transdiciplinary approach of the doctoral programme was of a pioneering character in the Swiss higher education.

Detailed information about the PSC PhD Program can be found at: http://www.plantsciences.uzh.ch/teaching/phdsciencepolicy.html

Application deadlines are December 1st and July 1st.