The Interfaces of Global Change (IGC) program is an innovative interdisciplinary graduate education program designed to address the multidimensional aspects of global change.  Funded by the Virginia Tech Graduate School, this program is one of several Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Programs (IGEPs).  These programs address a variety of complex societal issues requiring interdisciplinary teams of scholars. Participants (Ph.D. Fellows) typically enter the program at the beginning of their graduate studies and continue to participate throughout their time at Virginia Tech.

The Interfaces of Global Change program is closely aligned with the Global Change Center, which focuses on the social, economic, and environmental causes and consequences of global change.

The goals of the Interfaces of Global Change IGEP 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, designing 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.

The Interfaces of Global Change program does not grant degrees. Students still receive their Ph.D. degree from their home department.  The IGC provides students 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 scientific area of expertise while simultaneously gaining breadth in the multifaceted realm of global change and the science-policy interface.


Ph.D. Fellows in the IGC IGEP will be part of a campus-wide network and community of scholars studying diverse facets of global change.  During their tenure at Virginia Tech, they will have unique access to visiting scholars, workshops, and other professional development opportunities.  After graduating, they will become part of our community of diverse alumni solving global challenges around the globe.

Our interdisciplinary curriculum requires that each IGC Fellow take at least 8 hrs of core coursework and complete a collaborative, student-led capstone project. Program and curriculum requirements are detailed on the IGC Education page here. Ph.D. Fellows enrolled in the IGC IGEP will receive training in the following four areas by integrating the training they receive in their home departments with the additional resources and opportunities provided by the IGC IGEP.

  • Global change: The IGC emphasizes the social, economic, and environmental causes and consequences of global change.  

Students acquire understanding of these broad topics through a variety of mechanisms including: their dissertation research and supporting degree-related course work; the 3-credit “IGC breadth elective” required outside a student’s disciplinary home; the annual IGC graduate student symposium; disciplinary and problem-based flash talks occurring in the seminar courses; exposure to experts hosted by the GCC for distinguished lectures, seminars, workshops, etc.

  • Science in Society: The IGC emphasizes the roles of science and scientists in society and how our fellows can be more influential.  

The IGC seminars emphasize this topic, along with invited speakers and professional development workshops.  Example sessions from the seminars include advocacy versus honest broker; communicating science; science arbitration; joint fact finding; wicked problems and adaptive management, science policy; science advisory boards; government people and process; climate denial; decline of expertise; stakeholder analysis and transdisciplinarity.

  • Collaborative Team Science: The IGC helps fellows effectively conduct multidisciplinary/ interdisciplinary research.  

The capstone project emphasizes this topic. Example sessions include:  team formation and function, conflict resolution, project management, differences of disciplinary, multidisciplinary, and interdisciplinary research; case studies from literature; case studies of global change faculty.

  • Professional Development: The IGC helps fellows succeed as professionals.  

Topics covered in seminars include: career planning, CV writing, individual development plan, teaching versus research paths in academia, work-life balance, and psychological resilience.