Study with us

The Centre for International Environmental Studies at the Graduate Institute hosts a vibrant interdisciplinary group of PhD students working on climate change, environmental and development topics. The PhD candidates receive their research training in one of the Institute's Academic Departments depending on their respective discipline (International Relations/Political Science, International History, International Law, Anthropology and Sociology of Development and International Economics). They then carry out their research as Research Assistants within CIES, working on ongoing research projects that are supervised by the various faculty associated with CIES.

How to apply


The CIES does not handle PhD applications directly. Interested students should follow the Graduate Institute's application process and register in the teaching department that suits their interests. 




Funding opportunities for prospective students are available on the basis of ongoing CIES research projects funded by the Swiss National Scientific Foundation,the Swiss Network of International Studies and other funders, as well as EU-funded research projects.

Once registered in the Graduate Institute's PhD programme, PhD candidates holding a Master's degree from a Swiss institution can also apply to the Doc.CH programme funded by the Swiss National Scientific Foundation, which covers the salary of PhD candidates for up to 4 years.

Deadlines for the Doc.CH programme are every year on 10 March and 10 September. More information can be found here.   Interested students should contact a CIES faculty member who will approve and support the application process. 

Testimonials from Alumni

Eva van der Marel

Eva van der Marel, UiT The Arctic University of Norway (Tromsø, Norway), PhD in International Law, CIES Visiting Fellow, 2018-2019

"A few weeks after handing in my PhD in international (fisheries) law, I started working at the European Commission (DG MARE). Our unit's focus is on ocean governance, the law of the sea, and the Arctic, and my specific role is to provide law of the sea expertise and help with policy development in these areas. In particular, I have been working on the fisheries subsidies negotiations at the WTO, for which I am part of the EU delegation. I am also part of our "Arctic team", helping with the work towards implementing and further developing the EU's Arctic Policy. It is one of my great pleasures to be regularly traveling to Geneva for work, which sometimes allows me to pass by the CIES again to say hello. I am incredibly grateful for my experience at the CIES, where I was a visiting PhD candidate from UiT The Arctic University of Norway during the last year of my PhD. I greatly enjoyed the diversity of the crew there, from economists to historians to lawyers, which allowed for interesting exchanges and discussions. Moreover, there is always something of interest going on at the Graduate Institute (lunch talks, exposés, conferences...). I even had the pleasure of moderating a debate following the screening of "Anote's Ark", which speaks of migration due to sea level rise, and which was organised on World Environment Day in partnership with UNEP and the Geneva Environment Network. I am so grateful to James Hollway, Andhina, and generally the CIES crew for having me, and for making the end of the PhD so much more bearable. Despite Switzerland being a land-locked country, and Geneva being hundreds of kilometers away from the nearest sea, I hope to be back soon!"



Pedro Guimaraes Naso, PhD in Development Economics, CIES Alumni 2015-2020

"In September 2019, I became the head of the department of Innovations at One Acre Fund Burundi. One Acre Fund is an agricultural NGO that works all over Africa and gives farmers agricultural inputs on credit. In Burundi, we serve more than 100,000 farmers every season, helping them to have greater yields at a smaller cost with improved seeds, fertilizers and training. My role at the department of Innovations is to test new products and practices that have the potential to improve farmers’ lives. I am involved in three big projects: market access interventions, research on trainings and practices to foster asset accumulation, and the creation of cooperatives of farmers. Looking back, I find my experience at CIES very important to my new role at One Acre Fund. At CIES, I had the opportunity to work on several projects – from climate change to agriculture and education – with different researchers. It was an incredible experience. I am grateful to Joëlle and Andhina for making CIES to run smoothly over the years I was there, and to Tim for letting me work on several different projects. Often, when I am having a beer and a brochette at the beach in the lake Tanganyika, I think about the CIES family and the great time I spent in Geneva!"


Laura Nowzohour, European Central Bank (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), PhD in International Economics, CIES Research Assistant, 2018-2022

"I am currently working for the European Central Bank in the financial stability directorate as part of a team of the Chair's team of the NGFS (Network for Greening the Financial System) work stream on climate scenarios. These scenarios allow us to look at the possible futures ahead and are essential for analyzing how climate change might affect e.g. the financial system. My time at CIES was foundational for the work I am currently doing in many ways. For instance, it has given me the opportunity to deepen my knowledge on environmental economics as well as develop the personal skills to work in international and interdisciplinary teams. I also had the chance to visit many useful summer schools and conferences as well as moderate a roundtable discussion on "Reconciling Ecology and Economy: A Realist Approach with Bertrand Piccard", which was a great honour and allowed for some enlightening interactions with academics, policy makers and other professionals."



Yixian Sun, Postdoctoral Fellow, Yale University 

"In December 2018, I became a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University, thanks to the financial support of the Swiss National Science Foundation. At Yale, I joined the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies to work at the Governance, Environment, and Markets (GEM) Initiative, and am also affiliated with the Yale MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies. I am glad to be part of a vibrant interdisciplinary academic community and interact with many leading scholars in environmental studies. In addition to turning my dissertation into a book, I am starting a new project comparing sustainability governance of tea supply chains in China, India, and Kenya—the world’s three largest tea producers. Additionally, I am leading several collaborative projects at GEM on environmental regulation, particularly to explore the limits of private market-based governance in halting environmental crises. Looking back, I find my experience at CIES very helpful in this smooth transition from a PhD student to postdoc. The CIES’ interdisciplinarity, diversity, and collegiality helped me to build not only many research skills, but also management and interpersonal skills. I am grateful to my supervisor, Liliana Andonova, for her guidance as well as to my former colleagues for their advice and support. I miss so much the CIES family!"



Suchita Srinivasan, Research Fellow, ETH Zürich

"I started working as a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Energy Policy and Economics (CEPE) at ETH Zurich in January 2018. At the moment, I am working on two projects in Nepal and India that look at the role of energy-related financial literacy of households in their decision to invest in energy-efficient appliances, along with a study on the effect of growing meat consumption on emissions of greenhouse gases in India. My PhD thesis has been instru¬mental in enriching my knowledge on these issues, and helping me identify interesting research questions at the intersection of energy economics and development economics that I have been able to pursue as a postdoc. The time that I spent at CIES, and with interactions with my colleagues, taught me a lot about these topics, along with the methods of empirical economics that are relevant. For this, I am grateful to CIES for all the resources such as access to data sources, conference travel grants as well as funding that I received to do research during my PhD. I am especially grateful for all the knowledge I gained from my supervisor and colleagues at CIES, drawn from a breadth of topics in environmental and natural resource economics. It was wonderful knowing them, and learning from them throughout my PhD."

Giulia Valacchi


Giulia Valacchi, Research Fellow, WIPO, Geneva

"In February 2017 I joined the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) as a research fellow. I was in the final year of my PhD, and I managed to combine work and PhD research. The experience at CIES was crucial for me to get the fellowship as I started working with IP statistics, particularly patent data, during my research assistantship at CIES. CIES environment is very stimulating: I co-authored papers with other colleagues working in the research center. This helped me relating with a more integrated working environment, like the one at WIPO, where I am required to interplay on a daily basis with colleagues from my own or even different divisions. At WIPO I am currently co-managing a study on innovation in the mining sector. In addition, I am working on finalizing and publishing some of the articles from my PhD thesis. My specialization in environmental issues remains important for my current work as environmental topics are becoming more and more up front in the policy agenda of the UN. I do miss the university environment, particularly the many academic conferences that I got to attend during my PhD years. Luckily also WIPO economic division encourages us to take part in international conferences and present our research outside."



Kathryn Chelminski, Manager – New Market Development – Solar PV, Ameresco

"After completing my PhD at IHEID, I joined Ameresco – the largest independent energy services company in the U.S. – in May 2017. My experience at CIES and IHEID at the nexus of international politics and economics of energy and environment was a truly rewarding experience that honed my professional and academic skills. Throughout my years as a researcher at CIES, I gained experience developing interdisciplinary research on energy and climate change through collaborations with researchers from around the world inside academia and within international organizations. I worked on a range of topics including sustainable energy development in Indonesia, the effectiveness of the clean energy regime complex, as well as fossil fuel subsidy reform in Indonesia. I am grateful for the professional and academic opportunities that CIES and IHEID provided to collaborate and develop research, conduct field research in Indonesia and share my findings with diverse audiences. The supervision and feedback I received while at CIES was invaluable and fostered my growth as a scholar. Since my time at CIES, I was a Sustainability Science Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center (2015-2016), as well as a visiting Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge Energy Policy Research Group (fall 2016). During these fellowships, I further developed my PhD research on the impacts of clean energy finance on geothermal development in Indonesia and the Philippines, and research on the politics of fossil fuel subsidy reform in Indonesia. In my current position as the Manager of New Market Development for Solar PV at Ameresco, I have the opportunity to combine my energy policy and regulatory analysis background with business analysis and market development to help spur further development of the clean energy industry in the U.S. It has been an enriching experience to see from a business perspective the impacts that domestic energy policies can have in driving clean energy development."



Chiara Ravetti, Research Fellow of Oxcarre and the Department of Economics of the University of Oxford

"In the year before completing my PhD (winter 2014-15) I participated in the European and American job market, attending the ASSA meeting in Boston and the Spanish Symposium in Palma. The experience was interesting and intense, as it required me to confront with other young economists from all over the world.
Ultimately, after defending my PhD thesis at the Graduate Institute, I joined the Department of Economics at the University of Oxford as postdoctoral research fellow within the Oxford Centre for Resource Rich Economies (OxCarre). I received an SNSF Mobility Grant to work on innovation, trade and natural resources during my two-year stay in in Oxford. I am currently working on finalizing and publishing some of the articles from my PhD thesis, and starting the new work on green innovation. One of my articles on Chinese air pollution was recently posted on the economic blog VoxEu.

The academic environment here is extremely stimulating, in particular because of the large economic department. This is quite a change from IHEID, which is a relatively small and highly specialized institution.

In the first few months in Oxford, I had the occasion to meet with several colleagues from the CIES at the LSE Green Growth and Innovation Conference in London. I definitely miss the CIES research group (and the view from my old office!), but I am learning to enjoy the strange traditions of Oxford colleges and the British weather. However I always look forward to coming back to visit Geneva, maybe for the Annual Congress of the European Economic Association or some other conference."



Jules Wurlod, Consultant at the Boston Consulting Group, Geneva

“I joined the Boston Consulting Group, an international management consulting company in August 2016. My time at the CIES was a true stepping stone, both from a personal and a professional standpoint! After graduating from my PhD in 2015, I joined an economic consultancy in Paris called NERA, where I worked on energy and climate change related topics. Among others, we contributed to estimate the risk of delocalization of energy intensive industries due to carbon policy in the European Union. Needless to say, my experience at the CIES was an invaluable help in my work. I decided to continue my path in a management consulting company, which allows me to work on very diverse topics while learning how projects are carried out outside of academia and the public sector. It is fascinating how private companies view environmental sustainability and how this translates into concrete strategy and action! Overall, working at the CIES has helped me to deepen my knowledge on truly inspiring topics – such as innovation and energy consumption – as well as to develop a methodology to construct solid research pieces. The supervision I received from senior researchers at the CIES was truly invaluable. My best memories are certainly international academic conferences, where not only you get concrete feedback from very talented peers on your work, but you also get to learn completely new topics in just a few days.”



Martina Bozzola, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Agricultural Economics and Policy Group, ETH Zurich

“In September 2016, I joined the Agricultural Economics and Policy Group at ETH Zurich, after spending last academic year as a Max Weber Fellow at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence. I completed my PhD at IHEID in December 2014, with a thesis on “Climate Change, Adaptation and Household Response”. My work within the center has been a very stimulating experience in nurturing my passion and interest for climate change economics and agriculture in particular. At the EUI, I worked within the Florence School of Regulation, Climate Group. This experience exposed me to several exciting academic and policy events, including the chance to interview Professor M. Weitzman, Harvard University, and being involved in several events related to the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) that took place in December in Paris. I could also extend my own research into the issue of climate change mitigation in agriculture, having mostly dealt with adaptation issues during my PhD studies. Since completing my PhD, I have also been involved in several projects though the International Trade Center. My work dealt with managing capacity building activities for farmers seeking to adapt and mitigate climate change in key agri-food sectors in Kenya and Uganda, and leading a survey of about 200 farmers in Zimbabwe. I am looking forward to contributing to the work of the Agricultural Economics and Policy Group at ETH. I feel very fortunate to continuing my work within a fantastic team whose research interest are perfectly aligned to my own! I am equally fortunate to continue collaborating with former colleagues and friends at CIES. We are soon to bring to conclusion our work related to the EU FP7 FOODSECURE Project. The final conference “Policies that Matter” is taking place next month in Brussel and I will be there to discuss the exciting results of our research.”



Philipp Grosskurth, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, WIPO, Geneva 

"After handing in my PhD thesis, I became a postdoctoral research fellow at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Located just a short walk away from CIES, WIPO is the global forum for intellectual property (IP) services, policy, information and cooperation. It is a self-funding agency of the United Nations, with 193 member states. WIPO's mission is to lead the development of a balanced and effective international IP system that enables innovation and creativity for the benefit of all. I continue my work on multinational corporations and international networks of innovation within the Department for Economics and Data Analytics' Innovation Economy Section.

My fellowship at CIES proved to be essential in preparing me for this position. Not only did I benefit from the excellent research infrastructure and administrative support that CIES provides. My work would not be where it is today without the invaluable comments and feedback from my colleagues and the guidance of my supervisor at the time, Dr. Joëlle Noailly. CIES also provided me with the opportunity to present my thesis and supported my efforts to acquire funding for future research. For a short while, CIES was my academic home and I am grateful to call myself an Alumni."



Roxana Elena Manea, Field Coordinator at World Bank, Sudan

"I joined the Development Impact Evaluation (DIME) Department of the World Bank in March 2021, shortly after I submitted my PhD dissertation. I am the field coordinator for the implementation of two randomized control trials in urban and peri-urban areas of South Sudan. The RCTs evaluate interventions that relate to livelihoods opportunities and education. I am glad that my doctoral research and the work I do for the World Bank are very well matched. Owing to this job, my wish to go to the field after graduation was met. Both CIES and my thesis co-directors have supported me throughout my PhD studies and helped me secure this position. From personal to professional advice, I have benefited immensely from the wise words of the CIES community. I am happy to have been part of CIES, and I do miss the department. CIES memories will undoubtedly stay with me and will not be replaced. As an alumna, I am wishing all current CIES students a productive and insightful stay in the department."

Dario Piselli

Dario Piselli, Expert at European Environmental Agency, Copenhagen

"I worked at the CIES as a research assistant from 2018 to 2020, later continuing as an affiliated researcher until I completed my doctoral research project in early 2022. Immediately after I defended my PhD, I started a new job as an expert for the European Environment Agency (EEA) in Copenhagen, Denmark. This is a scientific agency of the European Union which supports the political institutions in Brussels and the EU Member States by providing sound knowledge on the state of the European environment and informing the development and implementation of EU environmental policies. At the EEA, I am mainly responsible for coordinating or contributing to our assessments of the interface between environment and human health in Europe, with a focus on agriculture, food systems and biodiversity.

Although my current role is fundamentally different from that of a researcher, the time I spent at the CIES has been critical for my professional development in so many ways. The CIES provided me with a supportive environment where I could conduct research in a collaborative yet independent way, giving me the opportunity to learn first-hand how to manage projects and coordinate the inputs of various institutions. It also exposed me to different methodologies and fields of expertise, thanks to the various backgrounds of my colleagues. Perhaps most importantly, it gave me a vantage point from which to observe environmental policy developments within the international Geneva community. In turn, this helped me understand the importance of well-crafted science communication and authoritative policy outreach, an awareness which I now carry with me in my day-to-day responsibilities."

Courses and Training


The Graduate Institute offers a large number of graduate courses on environmental topics both at Master and PhD levels. 

The list of courses offered can be found in the programme of the Environment, Resources and Sustainability track of  the Interdisciplinary Masters. The classes are clustered around four themes:  the Global Framework, Climate change, Development, Governance and Politics of Resources, and Agrarian Environment and Food systems. 

In addition, PhD courses on environment and development issues are also offered in the academic departments. PhD candidates in economics have, for instance, the possibility to enrol in the Advanced Natural Resources Economics class.

The CIES organises two series of seminars each semester that are open to students working on environmental topics:

  • the CIES Lunch seminars, which are a series of interdisciplinary seminars, where faculty members and occasionally guest speakers present their most recent work 
  • the CIES resource, environment and development economic seminars, which are a series of PhD level economic seminars featuring external speakers.

Supervision at CIES


The following faculty members are currently available to supervise PhD students:

  • Liliana Andonova (IR/Political Science)
  • Susanna Hecht (International History)
  • James Hollway (IR/Political Science)
  • Marc Hufty (Development Studies)
  • Joelle Noailly (International Economics)
  • Anne Saab (International Law)
  • Shaila Seshia Gavin (ANSO)
  • Tim Swanson (International Economics)