The objective of GlobalFood’s training program was to enable participating junior scholars to perform top-class research in an international and interdisciplinary environment, publish their work in leading journals, and acquire other relevant skills to increase their competitiveness in job markets for scientists and academics.
The training program was organized jointly with IFPRI under the umbrella of the Göttingen Graduate School of Social Sciences (GGG).
Supervision of doctoral researchers
Each doctoral researcher was supervised by a thesis committee consisting of three professors from the University of Göttingen. In many cases, the committee was extended by an external member from among the IFPRI partners. The supervision concept involved a balanced mixture of giving guidance, critical feed-back, and support, as well as providing opportunities and promoting academic independence. Successful doctoral researchers submitted their dissertation and obtained a PhD degree within a period of three years (six semesters).
General structure of the training program for doctoral researchers
The study program had three parts: (1) compulsory modules, (2) method electives, and (3) soft skill electives. Compulsory modules included a course on interdisciplinary research approaches, a regular doctoral seminar, a research colloquium with international visiting scholars, and intensive training on academic writing and publication. Method electives could be chosen from a list of courses tailored to the methodological needs of the RTG subprojects. Soft skill electives were designed to train qualifications that increase the competitiveness in international job markets; topics covered were intercultural communication, gender and diversity, project management, among others.
Other qualification measures
International experts on topics related to GlobalFood were invited to Göttingen to present and discuss their work, gave feedback on the research of junior fellows, and collaborated in other forms in RTG activities. This contributed to a stimulating environment, by bringing in new ideas and perspectives and providing the opportunity for participants to build up an international network of colleagues in their field. We also encouraged doctoral and postdoctoral researchers to visit the IFPRI headquarters in Washington DC for several weeks, in order to intensify the cooperation and work on joint papers. All participants had the chance to present their work at least at one major international conference. Furthermore, there were opportunities to gain own experience with the organization of academic meetings.
The agri-food system transformation is a global mega-trend, so that well-trained scholars in this field are in high demand and will continue to be so in the future. Overall, the role of food, agriculture, and rural development has re-gained priority on the international research and policy agenda, so that global job market opportunities for scholars with a relevant doctoral degree are very good. Concrete career perspectives for participants in the GlobalFood RTG include in research and teaching at academic institutions around the world. Furthermore, national and international policy and development organizations are seeking agricultural and applied economists, and also private sector companies are increasingly interested in people who understand market trends and are able to analyze the implications at different levels of the supply chain.
Recent graduates from our research groups were placed as postdocs, lecturers, or assistant professors in leading universities in Europe, the US, Australia, and also in developing countries; others are now working in international organizations (e.g., World Bank, CGIAR Centers, FAO), national ministries, or large agribusiness companies and consultancy firms.