Toward healthy doctoral ecosystems: reflecting on the recent DCP22

During the recent DPC 2022 conference, we zoomed in on healthy doctoral ecosystems, focusing both on different possible compositions of such ecosystems and on boundary conditions that ensure doctoral programmes run smoothly (see our previous blog). Using the analogy of a microchip, we visualised the main learnings and messages of the conference on the whiteboard (the image might take some time to open). This way, we took advantage of the physical nature of the conference and co-created the “doctoral microchip” together with all delegates.

doctoral conference whiteboard

Some general conclusions

As always, it has been a pleasure to openly share challenges and examples with peers and to be inspired. As someone wrote on the whiteboard, you are not alone. The open spirit of the network is a key asset of this conference, taken to the fullest in the bring your own challenge session and the world cafés. Time always seems too short to discuss all elements brought forward.

It is impossible to summarize the conference in a brief blog post without doing harm to the rich content and exchange, so I chose to make a visual report instead with some general observations:

  • One size does not fit all. The numerous speakers and panellists demonstrated clearly that our conference theme “Towards healthy doctoral ecosystems” had to be plural and that each word in the title matters. National context, school’s strategy, funding mechanisms, … all play a key role in the build-up of a doctoral ecosystem. We saw very diverse examples, ranging from Vlerick Business School (autonomous school with two-parent universities who serve a degree-granting institutes for the doctoral programmes) to John Molson School of Business (a loose collaboration of four institutions on doctoral education), Copenhagen Business School (industrial PhDs), Henley Business School (one of the oldest DBAs) to the outside-in perspective of imec (an industrial and academic ecosystem in nano and digital technology).
  • Come as you are. Attention to well-being, mental health and inclusion are key in the increasingly diverse (in terms of participants, programme delivery, requirements…) world of doctoral education.
  • Fit for purpose. Doctoral programmes and research programmes by extension should include the challenges of our time (like SDGs, Open Science, interdisciplinarity, broadened research/faculty assessment…) to stay relevant and prepare responsible future scholars.
  • A curse or a blessing. The question of the digitalisation of doctoral education was certainly the most controversial one of the conference. We will come back on that issue separately.

And what comes next?

To continue the conversation, we will gather at Toulouse School of Management from 24 to 26 May 2023 for the 2023 EFMD Doctoral Programmes Conference. Stay tuned for updates regarding the programme and possible touch base points on the journey.

If you have remaining questions about the DPC 2022 conference, feel free to get in touch:

Dr Eva Cools, Conference co-chair
Dr Brecht Cardoen, Conference co-chair
Dr Jean-Alexis Spitz, EFMD Manager


Eva Cools, DBA Manager & Research Manager of Vlerick Business School, co-chaired the 2022 EFMD Doctoral Programmes Conference.

See other articles related to doctoral education.