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Application Information

Transdisciplinary Sustainability

Admission Requirements:

  • master’s degree in a relevant field; OR

  • 12 months in a master’s program and demonstrated capacity to pursue doctoral studies; OR

  • bachelor’s degree (honours) or equivalent and 5 years of relevant professional experience


  • completion of eligible English-language secondary school or degree program; OR

  • IELTS Score above 6.5 or TOEFL score above 80 or equivalent (note that these are minimums – higher scores may be required for an application to be competitive)

(see calendar regulations for more information)

Application Procedures and Timelines

Most students will enroll on a full-time basis starting in September. In exceptional circumstances, students may enroll on a part-time basis and/or start in January or May. The application deadline for a typical September start is February 15 of the same year.

Interested students should contact a potential supervisor prior to finalizing their applications. Because the program is transdisciplinary and involves a wide variety of disciplines and faculty, the supervisor’s role is absolutely essential in helping to establish a student’s project, program of study, and committee. As well, the supervisor typically must provide a certain level of top-up funding, and applicants should be aware of whether or not their proposed supervisor can do so before proceeding with a full application (see more information at the bottom of the Program Description page). The potential supervisor should be clearly identified in the answer to Question 1 of the “Statement of Interest” on the application form. No applicant can be given a formal offer of admission until a faculty supervisor has been confirmed.

Applications must include a proposal, uploaded to the application portal as an additional document. It should be no longer than 2 pages single-spaced, and should elaborate on the following headings relevant to the proposed research project: rationale and significance, research objectives (or questions), methods, and fit with TRSU program. The last section should explain how the project fits with the TRSU program's transdisciplinary approach as explained on the program homepage (e.g. how will the project integrate distant disciplines for broad interdisciplinarity and how will it genuinely engage with external partners for co-production?). Specifics are important: applicants should identify which distant disciplines will be combined, how those distant disciplines are likely to be combined, which potential supervisory committee members might represent the identified disciplines, and which potential external partners might be engaged. Note, however, that the applicant does not need to have a background in all identified disciplines. This proposal does not replace the "Statement of Interest" section in the main application form, which must be completed as well.

Students who do not plan to use a transdisciplinary approach in their research cannot be admitted to the program.

Once a prospective supervisor has agreed to supervise an applicant if they are admitted to the program, the applicant should request that the supervisor send a "letter of support" to the Graduate Officer directly (currently grichards@grenfell.mun.ca), by the application deadline. The letter should specify how much top-up funding the supervisor will offer to support the student each year. Normally, the supervisor is expected to provide at least $7,250 per year over four years. See the "Financial Support" section on the "Program Description" page for more information.

Tips for the Application Process

Because supervisor top-up funding is normally expected, the pre-application process of contacting a potential supervisor with funding is very important. There are essentially two ways to do this. First, a student can apply for a specific open PhD position that has dedicated funding (see the postings at the bottom of this page). Second, a student can contact affiliated faculty members with research interests that overlap with their own (see the list below). The applicant may discover unadvertised positions or may be able co-create a position organically if the supervisor has extra funding available.

Applying without an agreed prospective supervisor (and letter of support) is possible but is unlikely to be successful, so it is not recommended.

Affiliated Faculty

The faculty members listed below have indicated interest in potentially supervising TRSU students or serving on supervisory committees (though it does not necessarily mean that they currently have the capacity and/or funding to take on a new student – especially for the inaugural year, given the rapid timelines). Please note that securing the support of a potential supervisor is an essential part of a competitive application, but it is not a guarantee that admission will be offered.

Faculty in the School of Science and Environment at Grenfell Campus

Mumtaz Cheema (Boreal Ecosystems and Agricultural Sciences)

Stephen Decker (Environment and Sustainability)

Paul Foley (Environmental Policy)

Lakshman Galagedara (Boreal Ecosystems and Agricultural Sciences)

Robert Gallant (Computational Mathematics)

Morteza Haghiri (Environment and Sustainability)

Andreas Klinke (Environmental Policy)

Mano Krishnapillai (Environmental Science)

Michele Piercey-Normore (Environmental Science)

Garrett Richards (Environmental Policy)

Gabriela Sabau (Environment and Sustainability)

Raymond Thomas (Boreal Ecosystems and Agricultural Sciences)

Adrian Unc (Boreal Ecosystems and Agricultural Sciences) - not taking on new TRSU students for 2021-2022

Olga Vasilyeva (Computational Mathematics)

Kelly Vodden (Environmental Policy)

Jianghua Wu (Environment and Sustainability)

Faculty in Other Schools at Grenfell Campus

Maggie Atkinson (Visual Arts)

Kelly-Anne Butler (Humanities)

Gerard Curtis (Visual Arts)

Cameron Forbes (Visual Arts)

Shoshannah Ganz (English)

Robert Hengeveld (Visual Arts)

Todd Hennessy (Theatre)

Daniel Nadolny (Psychology)

William Newell (Business Administration)

Roselyne Okech (Tourism) - only available for co-supervision in 2021-2022

D’Arcy Wilson (Visual Arts)

Faculty at Other MUN Campuses

Ashlee Cunsolo (Labrador Institute)

Kelly Hawboldt (St. John’s Campus: Engineering)

Roberto Martinez Espineira (St. John’s Campus: Economics)

Sean McGrath (St. John’s Campus: Philosophy)

C. Michael Wernerheim (St. John’s Campus: Economics)

Adjunct Faculty (may serve as committee members)

John Dagevos (Tilburg University: Sustainable Development)

David McKenzie (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada: Agronomy)

Gregory Wood (Consulting: Tourism)

Open Postings for Funded PhD Student Positions

Current opportunities may be listed below.

PhD Position on Methodological Cosmopolitanism and Global Ocean Governance

Prof. Dr. Andreas Klinke, Environmental Policy Institute (EPI), is looking to recruit a PhD student within his new project entitled “Methodological Cosmopolitanism: Exploring Cosmopolitan Governance of Global Oceans” funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada. Both doctoral fellowships are funded through full stipends.

The selected candidate will work under Dr. Klinke’s supervision at the EPI and will be enrolled in the new PhD program “Transdisciplinary Sustainability” in the School of Science and Environment at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Grenfell Campus, Canada. This program trains students to understand and conduct research on sustainability issues through a transdisciplinary approach. See the following link for the new PhD program: https://grenfell.mun.ca/academics-and-research/Pages/school-of-science-and-the-environment/Graduate-Programs/transdisciplinarysustainability.aspx

The fellowship is open to national and international students with a strong interest in transdisciplinary sustainability research who have a master degree in social sciences, such as political science, international relations/international studies, international public policy, international/global environmental policy and politics, environmental governance, environmental sociology, sociology of risk and uncertainty, international political sociology, maritime sociology, political geography, human geography, or a related field.

Project Overview

Oceans raise a series of questions and issues about the balance between conservation and use, the ownership of ocean resources, possible developments towards the sustainable use of the resources, national claims, jurisdiction beyond nation-state territory, international mechanisms of distribution, ocean governance and so on. Given their importance, oceans induce an inevitable inclusiveness and prompt the cosmopolitization of the action and manner of governing the oceans. The idea of this research project is based on the premise that research questions as well as political and social questions in the context of any governing related to oceans cannot satisfactorily and sustainably be answered by methodological nationalism. The research project asserts the necessity of making the ocean governance more attentive and adaptive to a cosmopolitan approach and less dependent on the intergovernmental model and the domination of nation-states. The project raises the question: what accounts for cosmopolitan ocean governance. The project opens up a global perspective to capture the forces and factors transcending the borders and entities of persisting national spaces and jurisdictions. Cosmopolitan governance addresses the interests of human individuals directly as world citizens and not indirectly as state citizens. The project will work iteratively between theoretical reflection and the empirical investigation of three case studies. It will conduct a cross-regional and trans-sectoral comparative analysis: fisheries in North America, loss of marine biodiversity in Europe and freight transport by sea in East Asia. The challenge is to find and define new research units beyond methodological nationalism that allow us to understand and compare tendencies and processes of cosmopolitization around the globe. To this end, the project will apply a combination of traditional methods of data collection and transdisciplinary methods of knowledge co-production such as discursive workshops, roundtables, dialogues, and interviews with academia, policy makers, nongovernmental organizations, and industry/business. For more details of the project see https://grenfell-epi.com/epi-faculty-and-staff/dr-andreas-klinke

Job Description

The PhD positions will be in the new PhD program “Transdisciplinary Sustainability”. The PhD research will include a combination of theoretical reflection, empirical analysis of cases studies and transdisciplinary knowledge co-production, mentioned in the project overview, to better understand whether and how methodological cosmopolitanism evolves. Each PhD will conduct one of three major case studies. In particular, the students will conduct literature reviews and analyses, discourse analyses and field work (e.g. interviews) in the frame of the case studies to fathom and estimate how distinctive environmental sectors contribute to new forms of cosmopolitan ocean governance. The PhD students will also contribute to the project organization and management. To this end, the PhD students will work closely with the Principal Investigator (Prof. Dr. Andreas Klinke) at the Environmental Policy Institute.

Please send your applications to the email address below. Include a cover letter with your research interests, your CV and the names of three persons for academic references with their contact information. Non-native English speaking applicants are supposed to include a recognized English test. Applications will be reviewed until the positions are filled.

For further questions or inquiries send an email to the following address.

Prof. Dr. Andreas Klinke

Environmental Policy Institute

Email: aklinke@grenfell.mun.ca

Graduate Studies

Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland
20 University Drive, Corner Brook, NL
A2H 5G4, Canada

Office: FC4021
Phone: (709)639-6585
Email: nsimmons@grenfell.mun.ca

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