Doctoral Schools

The SEEEP member institutions have agreed on the importance of establishing instruments for jointly educating and cultivating EU and Chinese students in areas of large societal impact. One of the key instruments that the SEEEP institutions have designed to meet that goal are the SEEEP Doctoral Programs on Sustainability Engineering (SESE). The rationale of this programs has been discussed at length in the Harbin Meeting in 2012 and the first batch of proposals was received and evaluated during the SEEEP meeting in Karlsruhe.

The SESE Doctoral Schools cover the following topics:

  • Climate change, environmental protection and sustainable urban development
  • New energy and clean energy
  • Civil engineering and green building
  • Transportation and clean energy vehicles
  • Electrical engineering and information technology
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Material science and engineering
  • Life science and biology engineering
  • Management science and engineering
  • Innovation and design

The concept and the first batch of proposals
The concept of the SESE Doctoral Programs is to put together institutions from both China and the EU to jointly address a common research agenda and design activities where both students, researchers and staff could meet, cooperate and work together. Needless to say, the degree to which these activities can be integrated depend on the level of available funding and is currently limited by the inexistence of a dedicated funding program. However, the participating institutions have committed to involve their own resources to promote student exchange, summer/winter schools and jointly seek for additional funding opportunities.

Conditions for application for a doctoral school were:

  • 2 to 4 SEEEP member universities
  • One Chinese university as the main applicant
  • Inviting one European university as the co-applicant

Mobility from China

  • Per program no more than 10 Chinese doctoral candidates for joint supervision
  • Maximum 10 Chinese PhD supervisors to Europe for research exchange

Mobility from Europe

  • Per program no more than 4 European doctoral candidates
  • Per program no more than 4 professors

The first round of proposals were received during 2013 and were approved during the SEEEP Workshop in Karlsruhe in September 2013:

2013 SESE Programs:

  • [6-1] New Energy and Clean Energy

Applicants:  Chinese University of Petroleum ; UPC

  • [6-2] Sustainable Urban Development through the Design, Planning and Construction of Large Public Buildings

Applicants: – South China University of Technology,  Politecnico di Torino

  • [6-3] Energy and Transportation

Applicants: – Tongji U,  KIT, Harbin Institute of Technology, IST

  • [6-4] Energy and Environmental Engineering

Applicants: Zhejiang U, KTH , TU Eindhoven

The activities of all these programs have been presented during the 5th workshop in Xi’an. The SEEEP institutions have stressed some of the fundamental ideas driving the whole concept of the SESE Doctoral Schools, that should be used as general principles when considering new proposals of doctoral schools. The main guidelines are listed below.


  • SEEEP supports premium programs
  • The SEEEP promotes the thematic coordination of the different programs to ensure critical mass.
  • Existing programs that involve only 2 or 3 SEEEP partners are encouraged to invite other institutions to joint so as to promote the collaboration
  • Consortia with overlapping topics will be invited to merge to improve the overall consistency of the SESE offer.
  • Running programs can be stopped, if they fail to develop the planned activities or do not meet the quality criteria, during the yearly review or the mid-term evaluation.

The 2014 SESE Doctoral Program Proposals
During the SEEEP Workshop in Xi’an 7 new proposals for SESE Doctoral Schools have been analyzed,  according to the guidelines of the previous section. The decision process involved two mandatory steps:

  1. Each proposal was evaluated in terms of its absolute merit, including the relevance of the topic, the quality of the research team and the overall impact. To better assess the quality, each proposal was presented during the workshop.
  2. For each proposal approved in terms of absolute merit there was a second level of analysis to ensure global thematic consistency of the SESE Doctoral Programs. The decision could either be to merge a new proposal with a previously existing one (whenever there was thematic overlap and, sometimes, in the composition of the consortium) or proceed as is as a separate endeavor.

These decisions are joint. In other words, a proposal will only be endorsed by the SEEEP if the absolute merit criterion (i) is met and the coordination recommendation (ii) is put in place. All proposals were approved in terms of absolute merit by voting. The recommendation to coordinate/merge with previous programs is also indicated in the decision table.

7.1 Logistics, Information, Management and Service ScienceApplicants:  Beijing Jiaotong U, UPC Ok OK to consider
Coord TU/e Zhejiang
7-2 Materials EngineeringApplicants: Univ Science & Technology Beijing, KULeuven, KTH Ok MERGE w/ 7-4
7-3 Solar Energy Conversion at Molecular LevelApplicants: Dalian UT, KTH, Tsinghua U, EPFL Ok OK to consider
7-4 Atomistic Simulation and Design of Advanced MaterialsApplicants: HIT, KTH, Xi’an Jiaotong  U Ok MERGE w/7-2
7-5 Innovation Design Engineering for Smart Sustainable CityApplicants: Tongji University, Aalto University Ok MERGE w/ 6.2
7-6  Renewable and Clean Conversion of Energy and System EngineeringApplicants: Xi’an Jiaotong U,  Aalto,  KIT Ok MERGE w/  6.3 or 6.1
7-7 Novel Oxy-fuel Combustion & Chemical Absorption Carbon CaptureApplicants:  Zhejiang University, KTH Ok MERGE w/ 6.4

As a consequence of the decisions, follow-up steps have to be undertaken for the final approval.