Global Change Center

Virginia Tech

The Global Change Center’s mission is to advance interdisciplinary scholarship and education to address critical global changes impacting the environment and society. We achieve our mission by providing a framework that encourages, facilitates, and rewards interdisciplinary research, education, and outreach across the intellectual landscape of Virginia Tech.

The center is home to an innovative interdisciplinary graduate education program designed to address the multidimensional aspects of global change. Participants (Ph.D. Fellows) typically enter the program during their first year of graduate studies and continue to participate throughout their time at Virginia Tech.

The goals of our interdisciplinary graduate program are to provide each Ph.D. Fellow with competencies in:– The social, economic, and environmental causes and consequences of global change.– The roles that science and scientists play informing public understanding, engaging with other stakeholders, influencing sound environmental policy, and effective communication of science to diverse audiences.– The purpose and practice of collaborative, team-based, interdisciplinary research.– Professional development tools leading to career success.

Our graduate program does not grant degrees. Students still receive their Ph.D. degree from their home department, but we provide them with a unique intellectual focus and additional training beyond the disciplinary expertise they develop in their home department. Our goal is for each student to gain depth in their specific area of expertise while simultaneously gaining breadth in the multifaceted realm of global change and the science-policy interface, as well as honing key skills for their professional careers (communication, leadership, collaboration, etc.).

Department/Institute/Unit: Fralin Life Sciences Institute
Institution: Virginia Tech
City: Blacksburg
Country: United States
State/Province: Virginia
Program Leader(s): Dr. Bill Hopkins, Director
Point(s) of Contact: Dr. Bill Hopkins, Director; Jessica Zielske; Program Coordinator
Contact Email(s):;
Year Initiated: 2013
Currently Active: Yes
Program Scale: International
Participant Model: Cohort Based
Participant Eligibility: Ph.D. Student
Time Commiment for Participants: 101-300 hours
Requirements for Participation: Completion of 3 core seminar courses, 2 restricted elective courses, and a capstone project; participation in annual research symposium, community building activities, and professional development activities
Application Frequency: Yearly
Application Process: Attend two pre-application meetings to meet faculty leaders and current graduate student Fellows; submit application materials to include curriculum vitae, application letter from the student, and letter of recommendation from faculty mentor/advisor
Program Recruitment Strategies: Recruitment via Global Change Center faculty affiliates; word-of-mouth; VT Graduate School; Diversity Fellows program
Cost to Participant: No
Funding or Support Available to Participants: Yes
Amount or Types of Support Available to Participants (if applicable): Several competitively awarded Graduate Research Assistantships providing 9 to 12 months stipend, tuition and fees (valued at $40,000+) are available each year. Graduate Fellows are eligible to receive only one assistantship during the program. Additional funding is available on a case-by-case basis to support special initiatives and capstone projects.
Mentorship Model: Formal mentoring activities include interaction with Global Change Center faculty throughout the 3 seminar courses and during the capstone project, as well as a peer-mentoring program within the IGC Fellowship. Additional informal opportunities to create mentor relationships include many social networking activities among students and faculty throughout the year.
Number of Participants in Program: 10-19
How Program is Funded: Internal
Other Program Partners: Virginia Tech partners: The Fralin Life Sciences Institute; The Virginia Tech Graduate School; School of Public and International Affairs; Institute for Society, Culture and the Environment; Office of Undergraduate Research; Virginia Water Resources Research Center; Center for Communicating Science. External partners: Susan Hassol, Climate Communication; Hollins University; Virginia State University; The Lifelong Learning Institute
Number of Program Staff: 3
Is the Program Credit Bearing or Credentialing: Yes
Is there a Program Evaluation Conducted: Yes
Type(s) of Evaluation(s) Conducted: Annual reporting that includes metrics of achievement such as awards and notable accomplishments, articles published in refereed journals, sponsored research, professional meeting presentations, and undergraduate research support