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The PhD at the end of the world: Provocations for the Doctorate and a Future Contested

CHEF and PaTHES joint book launch and panel discussion

2021.05.03 | Søren Smedegaard Bengtsen

Date Tue 08 Jun
Time 10:00 11:00
Location Online (Zoom)


June 8, 2021, at 10.00-11.00am Central European Summer Time (CEST - UTC+2) and 6.00-7.00pm Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST – UTC+10). 


Register for the event here




This volume examines the role of the PhD, in and of itself, and, as representative of research, the university and evidence-based knowledge, in relation to the most pressing problem of our time: the climate emergency. The idea for the book came out of a deep and strongly held conviction of the need to do something about this problem via the PhD. The volume took shape in what is now known as Australia’s Black Summer of catastrophic climate-induced bush fire and was brought to completion during the COVID-19 pandemic. The assembled essays, or provocations, address the future of the PhD and how this advanced research degree may respond to, and hopefully contribute to averting or ameliorating, the predicted environmental catastrophe. It explores different ways of thinking about and doing PhDs to meet the global challenges we all face, particularly the deteriorating state of the world’s climate and the escalation of the invidious politics of climate change and post-truth challenges to evidence-based science. The book assembles a highly disciplinary and geographically diverse group of leading research educators and scholars reflecting on these important issues.


In this launch, we introduce the book and host an informal, fireside chat with a selection of contributors. Topics explored include:


  • What sorts of ideas and practices are needed to seed and inform different ways of doing and thinking about PhDs to meet the environmental challenges we all face?
  • How might PhD programs play a role in combatting challenges to research-based knowledge and expertise that have emerged in the politics of climate, such as posed by ‘post-truth’ and ‘fake news’?
  • Arguably universities have played a role in advancing the conditions that have led to the ecological crisis. How might the gulf be redressed between universities and the communities they are meant to serve; redressing what Latour calls the failure of ‘trickle down epistemology’?





  • Susan Porter, Dean and Vice-Provost, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, at the University of British Columbia and Clinical Professor in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
  • Matthew Mars, Associate Professor, Leadership and  Innovation, Department of Agricultural Education, Technology & Innovation, The University of Arizona
  • Denise Cuthbert, Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research Training and Development and Professor, School of Graduate Research, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia

Chair: Robyn Barnacle, Associate Professor, School of Graduate Research, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia

Event host: Søren Bengtsen, Associate Professor, Co-Director of CHEF, Chair of PaTHES, Danish School of Education, Aarhus University, Denmark