Learning workshop for the EPFL PhD Excellence Program

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Published on
April 28, 2023

EPFL hosts researchers from diverse fields ranging from civil and environmental engineering, architecture to biotechnology, or computational biology.

The EPFL PhD Excellence Program hosts doctoral candidates interested in pursuing a career in non-academic sectors after their studies. To enhance their capacities to engage at the interface of science and international policymaking, we recently held a workshop with a focus on spanning the boundaries between science and multilateral policy. The goal of the workshop was to guide the researchers in their future professional journey from research to societal impact.

The workshop started with a presentation on global policymaking and the role of science. Participants took part in an exercise exploring the various challenges of working at the interface of science and policy. While some participants did not have previous experience at the interface before the workshop, they were aware of common misfits such as communication barriers or the difference of agendas between researchers and policy actors.

Exploring activities, skills and pathways

We also presented the different types of activities linked to science-policy engagement. Based on our typology, participants reflected on their own field and potential engagement. Later on, we explored the various skills and pathways for researchers engaging in multilateral policy environments, including in the international Geneva ecosystem that features UN organisations, diplomatic missions, NGOs and other actors. Participants were keen to understand how to approach and engage with policymakers around their research results and goals. They were also interested in discovering the various scientific and research positions outside academia.

Discussion panel and Q&A

After the workshop, a public event featured three speakers: Prof. Jacques Fellay from EPFL, Diana Rizzolio from UNEP and Nicolas Seidler from the GSPI. Dr. Philip Mair from the EPFL PhD Excellence Program moderated the discussion. The panelists shared their hands-on experience, challenges and lessons learnt about working at the interface of science and policy. A Q&A session with the audience followed. The participants acquired tangible examples of work at the science-policy interface in the field of health, environment and digital transformation.


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