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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.(See below for alternate dates that apply to the inaugural 2020-2021 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. 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 should also demonstrate the applicant’s understanding of the transdisciplinary approach. The proposed project or research interests should clearly identify a combination of “distant” disciplines and at least one potential partner organization. Note, however, that the applicant does not need to have a background in all identified areas. It may also be helpful to identify other faculty members that would be appropriate for the student’s supervisory committee, to represent the multiple disciplines involved. This information can be provided in the answer to Question 1 of the “Statement of Interest” on the application form. 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 (Dr. Garrett Richards - 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 $7,500 per year over four years. See the "Financial Support" section on the "Program Description" page for more information.

For the inaugural (2020-2021) year only, the application deadline is September 30 2020 for a January 2021 start. Both TRSU 7001 and TRSU 7002 will be offered in the winter semester for the 2020-2021 year, as opposed to being split between the fall and winter semesters in a typical year.

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)

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) - not taking on new TRSU students for 2020-2021

William Newell (Business Administration)

Roselyne Okech (Tourism)

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) - not taking on new TRSU students for 2020-2021

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

C. Michael Wernerheim (St. John’s Campus: Economics) - not taking on new TRSU students for 2020-2021

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 Student Position: Science–Policy Interfaces for Environmental Policy Innovation

Dr. Garrett Richards, of the Environmental Policy Institute at Grenfell Campus, is seeking an exceptional student to complete a doctoral research project on science–policy interfaces for environmental policy innovation. The student will work in collaboration with the Environmental Policy Innovation Lab (EPILab), which is essentially a social science “research shop” engaging with external partners from government, industry, community, and non-government organizations. Their thesis will investigate how natural science research and expertise can supplement the social sciences in these sorts of university–community engagement models. A secondary part of the project will involve a mode of “action research” where the student is actually involved with some of the concurrent short-term EPILab projects. Other than these conditions, the project is flexible and can adapt to the student’s emerging interests and ideas.


  • major education in the social sciences (e.g. public policy) and—ideally—minor education in the natural sciences (e.g. environmental science) OR vice versa

  • excellent research, writing, and communication skills (both plain-language and academic)

  • an interest in knowledge mobilization, university–community engagement, and research impact

  • a background in, and passion for, environmental sustainability

  • all the general requirements for the PhD program in Transdisciplinary Sustainability

Funding: Financial support for this position will be $21,904 per year over four years (minimum). About 80% of the funding is straight stipend, while about 20% is guaranteed work as a graduate assistant.

Target Start Date: January 2021

Location: The student will be based at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland, which is located in Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador.

To Apply: Interested students should send a CV, transcript (official or unofficial), cover letter (e.g. demonstrating interest, fit, and ideas for the project), and any other relevant materials to grichards@grenfell.mun.ca by September 9, 2020. The successful candidate will then be invited to apply to the PhD program in Transdisciplinary Sustainability, with the supervisor’s full support, by September 30, 2020. Please note that the subsequent application has additional requirements (e.g. reference letters).

Two PhD-Positions on Methodological Cosmopolitanism and Global Ocean Governance

Prof. Dr. Andreas Klinke, Environmental Policy Institute (EPI), is looking to recruit two PhD students 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 candidates 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 fellowships are 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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