Space for Global Development

The four-year structured PhD programme in Space for Global Development is an internationally oriented programme. A PhD programme at the University of Twente can be started throughout the year. Read more about the related Master's programme in Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation if you have yet to start a Master of Science programme.

Our world is facing the effects of global change and the ongoing growth of its population. Globalization continues to transform our world into an ever more interdependent system, linking developed and developing countries more than ever. Development is increasingly dominated by the interference of global and local transitions. In developing countries, as well as in developed countries, local transitions are not always contributing to sustainable development. Global challenges are all related to the ambition to stimulate more sustainable development. This aim focuses essentially on the sustainable use of land, water, natural resources and energy, while simultaneously increasing rural/agricultural and industrial production for our growing and wealthier population. This trend of population growth in a globalizing world has led to an increase of vulnerable places in rural and urban areas where disasters and other crises can occur. These vulnerable spots often occur due to neglected complex interactions of human and environmental systems. Too often disasters and local problems are attributed to lumped causes such as climate change while in reality they are caused by specific local and regional interactions of the complex coupled human environmental system (GLP, 2005).

Therefore an urgent need exists for spatially explicit contributions to adapt to our changing world. It is therefore that ITC focuses on “Space for global development”.

This research theme requires a multi-disciplinary approach where the challenge of sustainable development is addressed from different perspectives in an integrated, spatially explicit manner. The research theme is characterized by two research loops where ITC has proven expertise. Firstly the geo-information data loop from data acquisition, inventory to data processing and modelling towards data dissemination and visualization. Simultaneously, the thematic data loop of knowledge domains where human needs and demands are linked to processes and system knowledge in thematic integrated models. These domains include Agriculture, Environment, Hydrology and Earth Sciences.

Since it is the ultimate goal to have societal impact the research questions should be directly linked to actual problems and issues in developing countries and/or regions. One way towards societal impact is to link the integrated research programme in understanding the physical spatial systems (e.g. energy-food-water) to relevant multi-level governance processes (e.g. biodiversity-climate-geopolitics/global governance) as defined in “Scarcity and transition: Research questions for future policy (2009)”.

The contributing departments have their own specific contributions to these research loops. The Earth Observation Science (EOS) and Geo-information Processing (GIP) will contribute state of the art contributions in remotely sensed data collection, processing and quality control. The thematically oriented departments combine expertise in the spatial sciences with Natural Resource Sciences (NRS), Water Resource Sciences (WRS) and Earth System Analysis (ESA).

An essential component of this research is that it is driven by real demands from stakeholders and other representatives from the (developing) society. The programme outcomes should be applicable or usable for the economic sector and policy development, ranging from awareness rising to implementation and evaluation. These links to the economic sector and governance join the human dimensions of global development, and will be facilitated by collaboration with the PGM department at ITC.

Programme overview

Prof. Dr. Alfred Stein
2 years
4 years