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Global Challenges Doctoral Centre

About the Global Challenges Doctoral Centre

History and vision

The GCDC was established in 2018 to support the University of Kent's commitment to building capacity in ODA (Overseas Development Assistance) countries and enabling challenge-led research that will create social, environmental and economic benefits.

Where it all started: the Global Challenges Research Fund

The GCDC is funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), a £1.5 billion fund announced by the UK Government in late 2015 to support cutting-edge research that addresses challenges faced by countries on the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list of Official Development Assistance (ODA) Recipients.

Kent has been a key beneficiary of the GCRF since it began in 2015. This includes two major projects:

  • BioPharma: to establish production capacity for biopharmaceuticals and animal vaccines in Thailand and neighbouring South East Asian countries (Biosciences).
  • COMPASS: to build capacity in eastern Europe and central Asia (Politics and International Relations).

In addition to discipline-specific external GCRF grants, the University receives an annual GCRF QR allocation to support internal initiatives that will foster ODA-compliant partnerships and research. In 2018, the University agreed a strategy with Research England to put in place a number of initiatives with this allocation, including the Global Challenges Doctoral Centre.

What is the GCRF?

The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is a £1.5 billion fund that supports cutting-edge research addressing challenges faced by ODA recipient countries.

The Fund aims to promote challenge-led disciplinary and interdisciplinary research; strengthen capacity for research, innovation and knowledge exchange in the UK and developing countries; and provide an agile response to emergencies. The GCRF has three principal challenges: equitable access to sustainable development; sustainable economies and societies; and human rights, good governance and social justice.

It is essential that GCRF projects primarily benefit ODA recipient countries and support the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Read more about GCRF at Kent here.

History: Establishing the Global Challenges Doctoral Centre

The University established the Global Challenges Doctoral Centre (GCDC) in the academic year 2018-19 to help realise the aims of the GCRF and support the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The GCDC was established under the strategic leadership of the Dean of the Graduate and Researcher College, and the Centre welcomed its first PhD cohort in September 2018. The Centre’s first academic director, Dr Ingvilde Bode, led the GCDC in its inaugural year, taking forward various initiates such as the student affiliate scheme and specialised methods training courses that culminated in a six-day international doctoral training school in July 2019.

The GCDC welcomed a new academic director, Dr Beth Breeze (Centre for Philanthropy), and deputy Director, Dr Frank Grundig (School of Politics and International Relations), and a further eight doctoral students in 2019. Under their leadership, the Centre has launched a Postdoctoral Research Associate (PDRA) scheme, established an academic staff affiliate scheme, recruited a further ten doctoral students (beginning their studies in September 2020) and begun to develop online training provision for Kent researchers and ODA partners.

The GCDC

Indentifying solutions to global challenges through research

Our Vision: international, interdisciplinary, innovative

Supporting doctoral and postdoctoral research that helps achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals by tackling economic, environmental and social problems faced by developing countries on the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list.

To provide the best possible academic and pastoral support for our doctoral researchers.

To create a virtual and physical “location” for all those on our campuses who are aligned with the goals of the Global Challenges Research Fund.