School for International Training launches two new doctoral degrees with focus on conflict resolution and refugee response, sustainability and climate change

Publication Date: May 29, 2024
Publication Location: Brattleboro, VT
Contact: Abby Henson  |  [email protected]

School for International Training (SIT) is pleased to announce the launch of two new online PhD programs, one in international relations and one in sustainability, as part of SIT’s 60th anniversary celebration. Both programs expand upon the global university’s six decades of experiential education and worldwide network of partnerships.

“These two new dynamic doctorates will be grounded in SIT’s powerful experiential learning model and combine online coursework with residencies overseas,” says SIT President Dr. Sophia Howlett. “Students will gain, in real-time, a unique global perspective they can apply to their careers.”

SIT’s programs are developed around a framework of the world’s most critical global issues. The international relations doctorate has been created through the lens of ‘Geopolitics and Power,’ with courses that specialize in forced migration, peace and conflict studies, and global governance.

“This part-time four-year program is designed for working professionals in international affairs with an interest in peacebuilding, conflict and refugee response, and humanitarian affairs” says Dr. Bruce Dayton, who was instrumental in shaping the new program and will serve as its chair. “Students will critique traditional approaches to geopolitics and offer evidence-based approaches to improved human security.”

Dr. Joe Lanning is the chair of the new PhD in sustainability, a degree classified under both the ‘Climate and Environment’ and ‘Development and Inequality’ critical global issues. He helped design the curriculum, which focuses on ways to contribute to climate change mitigation, advocate for social equity, and innovate sustainable practices for economic prosperity. 

“This part-time program is for professionals enthusiastic about producing evidence-based analysis for sustainable transformations, the relationship of science and society for sustainable futures, and approaches to community-based problem solving,” says Dr. Lanning. “Graduates of the program will be prepared to lead multi-stakeholder groups as they will be effective communicators in policy circles, academic and organizational contexts, and in popular science.”

Both programs, which will be accepting applications from June 1 to January 2025 for their first cohorts beginning June 2025, draw from SIT’s unique brand of in-depth, reflective practice and intensive research training and will engage students where they are in their academic and professional careers. The programs will offer immersive doctoral seminars, and courses will focus on theory, research methods, applied practice, professional development, and dissertation preparation. Each degree will allow students to pursue their specializations in content areas at any level and subfield. Students can also request to transfer up to 15 credits of relevant previous graduate coursework during admission, thereby reducing the overall credit requirement from 64 to 49.

The online degrees include two 10-day international residencies. For the international relations program, students will examine the refugee crisis and rise of liberalism in Serbia, as well as the landscape of conflict and the power of alliances in Jordan. Students in the sustainability program will travel to Portugal to study renewable energy innovation and marine conservation. Then, they will explore case studies in Tanzania’s Zanzibar Archipelago, which is at the forefront of blue economy initiatives.

SIT’s new doctorates expand on the institution's diverse strengths in international programming. SIT’s global campus comprises 77 programs, nearly 30 learning centers, and 549 faculty and staff across all seven continents. SIT Study Abroad delivers academically rigorous, accredited undergraduate summer and semester programs around the world. In 2018, SIT Graduate Institute introduced a one-year global master’s format delivered at SIT’s learning centers around the world, and in 2021, SIT launched its first doctoral degree in global education. Its first cohort graduates this year.

“These one-of-a-kind global programs build on SIT’s long history of training the next generation of intelligent, compassionate global citizens at a time when the world faces unprecedented challenges,” says Dr. Howlett. “Our dedicated faculty have carefully designed these programs to prepare students to tackle urgent issues of the day in a global context—all while reflecting on SIT’s core values of community, intercultural understanding, social justice, and sustainability.”

Many of SIT’s graduates go on to work in high-level positions with organizations such as the United Nations, colleges and universities, nongovernmental organizations, and significant international foundations. Graduates of SIT’s PhD programs will similarly benefit from the institute’s broad professional and alumni networks throughout the world.

For prospective students interested in learning more about the new PhDs, SIT faculty will be available to answer questions during a summer webinar series. Students can also learn more about the application process or contact an admissions counselor here.

School for International Training (SIT), the academic arm of World Learning, was established in 1964 as a training center for the first Peace Corps volunteers. Today, SIT is a U.S.-accredited global university offering undergraduate study abroad programs, including the comparative International Honors Program, and globally focused graduate and doctoral degrees and certificates. SIT prepares students to be effective changemakers and global citizens through experiential education focused on the world's most critical global issues. For more information, visit