Graduate Collective in Earth Sciences: Promoting network building among doctoral students


  • Caroline Welte Biogeoscience Group, D-ERDW and ETH Library
  • Adrian Gilli
  • Jordon Hemingway



Doctoral students need to acquire a large skillset to meet the numerous and diverse challenges they face during their studies. Several factors can have a positive influence on how students navigate their doctoral projects independent of their supervisor’s commitment. These include informal networks of doctoral students that are regarded as key components to scientific success. Although there are opportunities for building informal networks within individual research groups, few opportunities exist at the institute and department level. Several research groups within the Department of Earth Sciences (D-ERDW) gathered to launch the Graduate Collective in the spring semester 2022. In a series of four seminars and ten workshops, we made use of the common thematic framework to provide 16 doctoral students with the tools and resources they need to navigate their graduate studies. Students worked closely together on the various topics in groups of different sizes, thus enabling them to build networks with co-students from related research fields. In addition, informal networking events were organized that allowed the students to deepen and stabilize their new connections with co-students. Students could earn 2 credit points for taking part in this course. We evaluate and reflect the effect of our course on network building based observations made during the course. Overall, the results underline our hypothesis that a teaching format installed between the department and group level enables participants to build networks of interpersonal support.