Training Program

The objective of the RTG’s qualification program is to train new generations of economists and social science researchers who look at food and agriculture through an integrated food systems lens and are capable of initiating and implementing meaningful interdisciplinary cooperation. Food systems are central to many of the world’s pressing problems and the SDGs. Hence, scholars with a profound understanding of the manifold links are in high demand on national and international job markets.

It is increasingly recognized that successful careers in the field of sustainability do not only require technical expertise but also a broad range of professional skills, including interpersonal and intercultural competences, effective and compassionate communication, impactful stakeholder engagement, and project management, among others. The RTG will foster the development of such a broad skills set through courses, workshops, internships, international networking opportunities, and other measures described below. The qualification program is organized in close cooperation with our two partner organizations, IFPRI and KU Leuven. Strong emphasis is put on team diversity, equal opportunities, and work-family compatibility.


The training program is designed for a period of three years. All doctoral researchers start at the same point in time and go through the PhD program in cohorts. During the first year, the doctoral researchers take several courses and develop their research plans. During the second year, they collect and analyze the research data. In many cases, data collection is associated with travel periods abroad to implement surveys, run experiments, or compile secondary data from various sources. During the third year, doctoral researchers write their papers and submit their dissertations. The research is accompanied by regular seminars and workshops to discuss the work in progress and facilitate cooperation.

RTG Courses

The following courses are compulsory for all RTG doctoral researchers:

  • Sustainable food systems: Perspectives from various scientific disciplines
  • Experimental and econometric approaches for food systems analysis
  • Interdisciplinary research methods for food systems analysis
  • Transdisciplinary approaches to sustainable food systems
  • Good scientific practice
  • Scientific writing
  • Doctoral seminar
  • In addition, participants can choose from a broad range of method-oriented courses and professional skills courses.

    Supervision and Career Support

    The career support concept of the RTG involves a balanced mixture of guidance, critical feedback, encouragement, and promoting independence. All doctoral researchers are guided by a supervision committee consisting of at least three professors. The supervision committee, and the main advisor in particular, also take on a tutoring role, advising on research designs, methodological approaches, effective paper writing, deciding on the suitability and timing of research visits, choosing conferences, and later job market strategies.

    Other Training Elements

    All RTG doctoral and postdoctoral researchers have extensive opportunities to travel and network internationally. For the fieldwork abroad, they are supported by the Göttingen professors and IFPRI colleagues in various countries to establish local contacts. All have the chance to participate in at least one international academic conference to present and discuss their research results. Participants are also encouraged to make research visits of a few weeks to KU Leuven, IFPRI, or other organizations.


    RTG 2654: Sustainable Food Systems

    Prof. Dr. Meike Wollni

    Vice Speaker:
    Prof. Dr. Tobias Plieninger

    Coordination Office
    Dr. Melanie Grosse

    Heinrich-Düker-Weg 12
    D-37073 Göttingen

    Phone: +49 (0)551 39 29222