PhD in Social Ecology Faculty of Humanities, Charles University
At present, there is a consensus that just having a comprehensive understanding of the planet’s natural system does not suffice. It is necessary to understand the complex interactions between the socio-economic system and the vital planetary systems which provide society with the ecosystem and natural services. The Social Ecology doctoral program contributes to the development of the environmental approaches characteristic in their interdisciplinary nature. The goal of the program is the advancement of knowledge, which should contribute to the creation of a theoretical base from within the strategy of making economic, social, and cultural development sustainable, especially from an environmental perspective.
The following scientific directions have been defined for the program:
- Socio-economic metabolism
- Natural services
- Relationships between health and environment
- Application of sociological and economic approaches aimed at addressing environmental issues and sustainable development
- Research topics applying environmental economics
- Socially urgent issues of public policy of sustainable development
- Legal aspects of relationships towards the environment
- Environmentally inspired topics from the perspective of philosophy, anthropology, and history
- Indicators of the relationship between the environment and human activities
- Education for sustainable development
Students can come up with their own ideas for topics for their Ph.D. thesis or may use topics provided by supervisors. The objective of the Ph.D. Social Ecology is to provide, as in the above-mentioned domains, the concept of sustainable development with the support of scientifically conducted research. An important aspect of the program is the interdisciplinary character of the stated research domains and the synergies among them. Although it is not the main goal of the course, we hope that the research outputs be an important source of scientifically valid information for objective, relevant and qualified decision-making on environmental aspects, of the economic and social development of the Czech Republic.
Students of the program will know the principles and methods of scientific work. Thanks to being trained in the research methodology of at least two subjects, they are capable of relatively greater insight into interdisciplinary-based problems and are better equipped to resolve them, which we consider being an important added value of the Social Ecology program. The range of expertise of students is determined by the interdisciplinary nature of their studies, which focuses on environmental issues, and issues regarding the dynamics of the relationships between society and natural systems. The basis for this specialization is determined by their previous studies. This specialization is developed within the doctoral studies in such a way, that the students eventually acquire in-depth knowledge of the theoretical bases of the scientific areas they are applying, whilst writing their doctoral theses. They know the broad context of the environmental issues their dissertation is focusing on and develop a deep understanding of the methodology of all scientific areas they are applying while working on their dissertations. The knowledge students gain is considered an essential prerequisite for interdisciplinary dialogue and research.
Graduates will be qualified for positions at academic institutions here and abroad. Moreover, will be able to take positions as scientists in institutions fully focused on research and development in the broad area of subjects related to the environment and sustainable development, e.g. at various institutes of the Czech Academy of Sciences. Examples of possible research areas include environmental economics, environmental sociology, the research and use of sustainability indicators, etc. Furthermore, graduates can seek jobs in research institutions abroad. An extremely important outcome is the ability of graduates to hold decision-making positions in public administration, the business sphere, and NGOs, where their work will have an impact on the environment. As for the public sector, this includes positions in central administrative bodies, especially ministries and their advisory expert or executive offices; positions in public administration at the regional or lower level.
Jobs can also be possibly found in administrative bodies of the European Commission, the United Nations, the OECD, and other multilateral international organizations. In the business sector, graduates can find employment in companies, whose business has a direct impact on the environment. They can also find opportunities in companies and organizations providing expert services directly focused on the environment, such as land planning, planning for Territorial System of Ecological Stability, EIA, SEA, as well as more recently the Sustainability Impact Assessment. If interested, graduates will be able to take a job in the media, where they will be able to competently assess and present information on sustainable development and the environment.