PhD Course in Life Course Research
University of Florence
Earliest start date
The Ph.D. program in Life Course Research fosters the study of life courses and the significant events that shape them from a holistic and transdisciplinary perspective. The program establishes an alliance among scholars from the biomedical, psychological, and socio-demographic fields.
The PhD program in Life Course Research will train a new generation of highly skilled scholars relying on an evidence-based approach, with a strong emphasis on quantitative methods and data analysis.
Unique features of the Ph.D. program in Life Course Research:
- Thematic rather than disciplinary identity
- Super-departmental and super-regional nature of the Consortium to overcome the fragmentation of local approaches
- Multilevel teaching structure fueled by a large Scientific Consortium
The theoretical premises of the PhD program
The life course perspective allows for a comprehensive study of how events that mark individuals’ lives in their key phases of development and decline manifest and change over time and space.
Three principles provide the foundation of our holistic approach to the study of the life course:
- Cumulative contingencies: previous experiences (including those in the womb) shape a person’s current status in different life domains (health, geographic mobility, family, work, and socioeconomic position);
- Linked lives: events in one life domain (illness, job loss, divorce) can influence all other domains;
- Historical period and context: the period and the context in which individuals live influence the probability, the timing, and the sequencing of key life course transitions.
An individual’s life course should not be considered an arbitrary chain of events. Rather, as experiences follow one another, people are increasingly directed into certain trajectories, and other options decrease in probability or become closed off entirely. Micro-level (individuals), meso-level (e.g., households, care providers, volunteering organizations, and firms) and macro-level (society, institutions) factors are all pivotal.
We ensure synergies by design as the PhD Program in Life Course Research incorporates transdisciplinary perspectives that merge the biomedical, psychological, and sociodemographic. The PhD Program in Life Course Research will train a new generation of students able to triangulate concepts and methods from these different approaches to untangle life course dynamics.
The PhD Program in Life Course Research will be based on and implement an evidence-based approach with a strong emphasis on quantitative methods and data analysis. In addition, qualitative approaches can reveal important insights into the opportunities and challenges individuals face.
What it offers
- 3-year scholarships
- A multilevel teaching structure with online and in-presence courses at the University of Florence and the host Universities
- 30 credits of disciplinary and transdisciplinary teaching
- Dedicated Winter and Summer Schools
- Up to 12 months of a research period abroad
Scholarships and Funding
- Each scholarship is associated with a pre-specified general topic.
By selecting the topic, the candidate also selects the host University financing the scholarship, thus where he/she will develop his/her doctoral thesis.
- To apply for one scholarship the candidate must prepare a research project consistent with the pre-specified general topic associated with the scholarship.
- The research project must follow the template provided.
- Candidates may apply for more than one scholarship provided that they present a research project for each topic.
- The scholarship is assigned based on the evaluation of the research project presented and an oral exam.
This curriculum aims to study biomedical aspects related to the critical ages of life from birth to death, developing along a path from childhood, adolescence, and adult and senile life.
Ph.D. students attending this curriculum will conduct their research in three possible areas: dealing with biological mechanisms, dealing with risk and preventive factors, and dealing with clinical and prognostic aspects, including pharmacological aspects and organizational management aspects.
The study in these three areas may include methodologies and tools from biochemical biology, molecular biology, physiology, pharmacology, and medicine (pediatrics, internal medicine, neurology, geriatrics, and epidemiology), with a strong emphasis on the coexistence of the various approaches and their integration with socio-demo-psychological aspects.
Special attention will be given to the issue of healthy aging and psychophysical well-being throughout the life course. Research activities may include, among others, laboratory activities (in silico, in vitro, in vivo), clinical studies (observational or experimental), population etiological studies, and functional studies. A gender approach and a focus on health inequalities will also be emphasized.
This curriculum aims to study with rigorous quantitative and qualitative analysis techniques the developmental trajectories, the processes of continuity and discontinuity in development from conception to death, and the individual, contextual and macrosocial factors that can account for adaptive and maladaptive paths in the life course.
Special attention will be paid to the role of risk and protective factors, mechanisms of continuity and discontinuity, and processes of resilience and vulnerability. An important theoretical and methodological focus will be on the multidirectionality of processes with particular attention to the fact that developmental changes may differ in the timing or onset of change, in the direction and rates of change, or some combination of timing, direction, and rates of change.
These issues will be investigated through a multidimensional theoretical and empirical approach with the application of multilevel analysis methods and longitudinal research designs.
The curriculum will specifically address the transitions of childhood, adulthood, and aging about the developmental tasks of these different stages and the typical and atypical processes of the life cycle.
This curriculum addresses the causes and consequences of key transitions in the life course of individuals (e.g., family and fertility, migration, education, and employment) and their interrelationships with economic, social and political dynamics.
The approach will be eminently interdisciplinary, so the concepts and tools of Demography and Social Statistics will be enriched with contributions from Sociology and other Social Sciences.
In particular, the curriculum addresses: fertility and fecundity; family dynamics; health and mortality; aging; internal and international migration; and the relationships between population dynamics and biological, environmental, cultural, institutional, economic and social factors. These issues are addressed both by analyzing the evolution and trends of demographic aggregates (macro analysis) and by delving into the mechanisms underlying life course behaviours (microanalysis) from a comparative perspective over time and space.
The study of life courses will be based on the application of rigorous statistical techniques: longitudinal and multilevel data analysis and causal and experimental approaches will be the foundational methodological tools. In addition, a strong emphasis is given to methodologies for survey design and the collection, processing, analysis and integration of data from different sources and of diverse nature (e.g., textual, relational, audiovisual, geo-referenced data).
- Universities and Public and Private Research Institutes
- Facilities of the National Health System, public and private specialized laboratories and clinics
- Public, private or non-profit organizations of personal services
- Pharmaceutical, chemical, and biotechnological companies
- Public and private diagnostic research centers or laboratories
- Insurance and consulting companies
- Services for scientific communication and dissemination of life course-related themes
- Foundations that finance research in the biomedical, psychological, and socio-demographic fields