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Wageningen Graduate Schools Sandwich PhD programme

  • #agriculturalsciences
  • #biologicalsciences
  • #economics
  • #environmentalscience
  • #technology

The aim of the Wageningen Graduate Schools (WGS) Sandwich PhD Programme is capacity building: a way for the university to reach out to like-minded scientific institutes to build international scientific networks, to facilitate exchange and to reinforce the knowledge basis of these institutes.

Content of the programme

A sandwich PhD candidate spends the first part (around nine months) of the PhD project at Wageningen University. During this time the research proposal is expanded and a tailor-made education and training programme is started up. Where possible and applicable, research is also started.

The next thirty months are spent conducting research in the home country of the candidate under the supervision of a local supervisor who is also the copromotor. Sandwich PhD candidates have regular (online) contact with their supervisors at Wageningen University. Sandwich PhD candidates often return to Wageningen for short visits, and a Wageningen University supervisor will, during critical times of the research, visit the PhD candidate’s home institute.

After the research in the home country is finished, the candidate returns to Wageningen University to finish the PhD thesis, which takes approximately nine months. The local supervisor will act as copromotor at the graduation ceremony.

Information for candidates

The call for the WGS sandwich PhD programme opens once per year, usually in spring. The calls are published on this website. The WU sandwich scholarship is a personal grant. Applications are submitted by the intended promotor of a PhD project. Proposed PhD candidates should:

  • be suitable for achieving the aim of capacity building

  • have a convincing Curriculum Vitae for a PhD position at WU

  • have a strong motivation and an original and innovative research idea

  • fulfil the entry requirements of the WU PhD programme (recognised master diploma, English proficiency) and be a national from one of the selected countries for this programme

  • be employed at the home institute during the entire PhD trajectory.

To apply for a WGS sandwich PhD position, you will have to find a promotor from Wageningen University who will endorse your innovative research idea (list of chair groups and contact information can be found here) and would like to be your promotor. A promotor can submit one WGS sandwich PhD proposal per round. In addition, you will need to provide proof of commitment from your home institute.

Your intended promotor has to submit the application form plus all the required annexes (in one compiled file).

It is a plus if you remain employed at your home institute after completion of your PhD programme. If no clear link between you and your home institute exists, your application will not be taken into consideration.

Selection criteria

  • Collaboration WU and home institution
    Including quality and infrastructure of supervising groups, institutional support and quality of the relationship between home institute and WU.

  • Quality of the candidate
    Including motivation, CV and link with the home institute.

  • Quality of the proposal
    Including originality, clarity, feasibility, and strategic contribution to the WU graduate school and chair group(s).


The grant of the WGS sandwich PhD programme covers living allowance for a total of 18 months in Wageningen, (partial) travel costs of candidate and WU/local supervisors, visa application costs and use of facilities.

Wageningen University will ensure supervision, education and training. The education budget and the costs for printing the thesis are not included in the budget. The chair group at which candidates conduct their research are expected to pay these costs.

Click here for more information and application form. 


Researcher to keep an eye on: Alex Geurds awarded NWO Vici grant

  • #anthropology
  • #culturalstudies
  • #environmentalscience
  • #history
  • #sociology

Alex Geurds receives NWO Vici grant for investigating human-environmental engagement across Central America & Colombia

During pre-Columbian times, the Central American isthmus was marked by dynamic exchange and human mobility. Despite this, indigenous communities were archaeologically stable between AD 300 and the 16th-century Spanish colonisation, contrasting with the cycles of florescence and decline of neighbouring culture areas, including the Maya. Dr Alex Geurds was awarded an NWO Vici grant to investigate this stability and what this may mean for societal resilience today.

‘Ways of being in the world’

The project studies long-term ontological forms of human engagement with the surrounding world for the context of the southern Central American area and parts of Colombia and focuses on the period from AD 300 onwards. ‘The interest in these ‘ways of being in the world’ concerns various social science and humanities disciplines, and archaeology has also increasingly worked towards a methodology to identify relevant ontology proxies,’ Alex Geurds notes. ‘The project includes a comprehensive mapping of data that may help us to find patterns in how indigenous communities awarded significance to the surrounding world.’

The project will be anchored around three research avenues. ‘First of all, durable landscape modifications, such as earthworks and stonework; secondly, how the surrounding world is translated into an aesthetic experience on media such as polychrome pottery; and thirdly, how ethnographic and historical data can be collated to identify human-environmental engagement across the research area.’

Long-term understanding

Current society is deeply concerned about human impact on ecologies worldwide. ‘Archaeology holds the key to a long-term understanding of this human-environmental engagement, using a globally comparative perspective,’ Geurds explains. ‘However, at the same time, archaeology all too often takes a back seat in public discussions and policymaking. Partly, this is because long-term views of the past (equal to longer-term perspectives of the future) are seldom favoured by decision-makers.’

Geurds’ project aims to push up against this current sidelining of archaeology. ‘We plan to organise multiple local roundtables in the research area; and connect across the various nation-state boundaries to forge a new interregional perspective on long-term human-environmental histories.’

Risky proposal

It was a risky proposal. ‘I wanted to work with a group of people that focused on a conceptual subject that was very close to my own interest, involving, for example, carved stone, notions of monumentality, and a long-term diachronic perspective. This tended to result in a relatively open-ended proposal, one in which review committees might easily detect ‘holes’.’

Very much aware that the project proposal might not be accepted when he received the email, Geurds ended up staring at the unopened message for a bit. ‘I knew full well the message would either be a disappointment or provide a clear direction in my research agenda for the foreseeable future. I contemplated if I should bury my phone under the carpet or just face the music and read its contents. Obviously, it wasn’t much of a choice. It ended up being a thrilling moment, as they always are.’

Opportunities for talented academics: Team assemblance

With the awarded funding, Geurds will assemble a team of postdoctoral researchers and PhD candidates. ‘This is likely somewhat down the road still, but we should be complete and underway in the course of 2024. It’s a lovely occurrence for the Faculty of Archaeology also, as its financial health is to a significant degree dependent on securing these types of grants – without them, we wouldn’t be able to run a research-focused Faculty,’ he states. ‘It takes time and energy to craft these proposals, and there are no guarantees along the way, but if it works out, then it offers –otherwise scarce– opportunities for emerging academic talents; a unique environment to develop once research; and reinforcing Leiden University’s longstanding regional focus on Middle and South America overall.’

Keep an eye on Alex's project.

Image: copyright van Faculty of Archaeology Leiden University. Crocodilian stone sculpture (Colombia). Museo del Oro, Bogota.


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