The task of supporting the professional development of junior researchers is firmly anchored in the statutes of the IASS. Transdisciplinarity is a defining feature of our research and the Institute attaches great importance to involving partners from the field in generation of new knowledge. The IASS seeks to train scientists to work effectively in an inter- and transdisciplinary environment and to capitalize on the advantages of these approaches while also developing the necessary disciplinary expertise in their chosen field of scientific practice.
Reflecting this intent, the IASS supports doctoral projects addressing interdisciplinary questions in the field of transformative sustainability science as well as disciplinary research that contributes to transformative sustainability science within the context of larger transdisciplinary projects. Generally, the IASS gives priority to doctoral projects that could not be undertaken in a conventional university context – or only with immense difficulty – and which would especially benefit from the transdisciplinary research approach practised at the IASS.
Doctoral research projects undertaken at the IASS are jointly supervised in cooperation with a German or international university and usually span three years. Doctoral candidates are guided throughout their projects by an experienced supervisor with the relevant disciplinary expertise to engage with the candidate's work and support their professional development. The scope of this supervision can be tailored to the candidate's specific needs.
As well as supporting candidates with technical and disciplinary expertise, the IASS also offers an interdisciplinary qualification programme, including a mentoring programme and an annual PhD Day, in addition to a wide range of training opportunities.
In addition to their supervisors at the IASS and the PhD Advisory Committee (PAC), which advises on doctoral research, candidates are also guided in their research by individual mentors. This mentoring programme is supported by the IASS Fellows in particular, as well as senior scientists affiliated with other organizations. As a part of this programme, junior scientists are trained in the methodology of 'intervision', or peer consultation.
A PhD Day is held annually at the IASS to foster exchange among doctoral candidates and initiate peer learning processes. Throughout the day candidates are invited to share their ideas on a range of overarching topics and questions in different event formats. The day provides an opportunity for doctoral candidates to get to know each other and grow as a group in order to share their experiences. An informal get-together in the evening rounds off the PhD Day.
Junior researchers at the IASS can also access the Institute's wide-ranging internal and external training programme(s). The range of internal training opportunities includes events on the IASS approach to research, presentation and moderation skills, seminar lectures by fellows and IASS staff and guests as well as the annual Potsdam Summer School (PSS), which is organized by the IASS in cooperation with various partner organizations.
Every two years, two representatives are elected from the pool of current doctoral candidates. These representatives foster communication between doctoral candidates and the leadership of the IASS and are involved in the development and organization of formats that address junior researchers. The current doctoral representatives are Stefanie Kunkel and Seán Schmitz.