The oikos Research Fellowship Programs – PhD Fellowship and Associate – help outstanding Ph.D. students and recent graduates to pursue their passion for sustainability in economics or management. 


PhD Fellowship

The oikos PhD Fellowship Program was initiated in 2006 at the University of St.Gallen, Switzerland, to support international PhD students writing their thesis on sustainability and to provide them with an opportunity to engage in oikos programs. In 2014, it was expanded to also include fellowships at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. Over the years, oikos PhD fellows have undertaken sustainability research to examine different economic and managerial issues that intersected with fields as diverse as human rights, fashion, marketing, journalism, finance, and more.

oikos PhD Fellows receive a 3-year grant to complete their PhD courses, conduct their research, finalize their doctoral thesis and take the lead for specific oikos initiatives. 70% of their time is devoted to their studies and research, 30% is allocated to oikos initiatives. There are currently no calls for applications for oikos PhD Fellowship. If you are interested in receiving information about future calls, please let us know by writing an email to fellowships[at]

Associate Program

In 2016, oikos started an Associate Program to allow recent graduates to develop their expertise on a particular topic and to explore key questions, examine answers, identify innovative players, and share their own perspectives around it. The oikos Associate also takes the lead on organizing workshops, debates and roundtable sessions on their topic of interest, and foster an exchange within the oikos community about the issues at hand. They share garnered insights in a final report.

Associate Reports

Digital Economy and Sustainability

Digital Economy and Sustainability

Digitalization – the increased use of information and communication technologies (ICT) – is affecting all areas of our lives. Rapid progress in the development of hardware and software is steadily moving us towards a fully-digital society.

The ways how we learn, communicate, and consume are cases in point. Applications and devices make it “easier” (in inverted comma, because sometimes technology makes things more complicated or confusing) to do routine work or to stay in contact with each other. Many of them have already become so embedded in our daily experiences that it is hard to imagine living without them. Instant e-mail delivery, navigating with online maps, and internet at our fingertips, available 24/7, has become second nature to us. The increased use of digital technologies to transfer money, to hail a taxi or to control energy consumption provides an illustration.

The impact of digitalization on our lives is profound. A typical day on the internet today comprises 2.3 billion GB of web traffic, 152 million Skype calls, 207 billion e-mails sent, 36 million purchases on Amazon, 8.8 billion videos watched on Youtube, and 4.2 billion Google searches.  The speed with which digital technologies continue to make inroads into societies is constantly on the rise. And the lines between the old economy and a new digital one are becoming increasingly blurred.

Against this background, oikos Associate Christoph Rappitsch explores the opportunities and risks of the digital economy for a broad sustainability agenda and thus for people, communities and the planet in the first oikos Associate Report on Digital Economy and Sustainability.

oikos Guide to Pluralist Economics

oikos Guide to Pluralist Economics

Pluralist economics is the idea that the best way to understand the economy is to study a large number of competing theories. If you’ve studied economics in the past, this might sound like a pretty foreign concept. Economics is often taught as if it is a hard science, with strict rules that need to be followed if one is to come to the correct answer. Pluralist economists disagree with this vision of economics. Instead, they think that listening to and respecting a diverse set of voices is a sign of strength, not weakness.

 oikos Associate J.Christopher Proctor prepared the guide to give people a quick introduction to pluralist economics. The oikos guide is also available in Italian thanks to the hard work of the members of Rethinking Economics Italia.

See the Italian version here.

Mapping Pluralist Research

Mapping Pluralist Research

2008 should have been a fascinating time to study economics. But oddly enough, the sudden disintegration of the financial system and the looming global recession were not a primary focus for most economics students. Economics education was built to answer different questions, so while the economic circus played out in newspapers and Main Streets around the world, the vast majority of economics students were hard at work drawing indifference curves and avoiding heteroscedasticity.

Five years later, little in the classroom had changed and people were starting to ask questions. Policymakers questioned if economics students were “fit for purpose”, and student groups like the Post-Crash Economics Society in Manchester responded with a resounding NO. Initiatives like the Post-Crash were popping up around the world and they eventually organized themselves into networks like the ‘International Student Initiative for Pluralism in Economics’ (ISIPE) and ‘Rethinking Economics’. These groups had a pretty straightforward request: the “real world should be brought back into the classroom” and diversity (or pluralism) of theories and methods should be taught. This campaign for “pluralism” was, and is, a key rallying point for the various post-crash student groups. But it is by no means a new idea.

Against this background, the report by our Associate J.Christopher Proctor provides an overview of the research which has come out of the student movement for pluralism in economics. Student organizations working to reform economics education have been very active recently, and this short document tries to put all our hard work in one place.

PhD Fellows

Lars Stein, PhD Fellow 2007-2010, University of St.Gallen | Corporate Sustainability Management Practices

Nina Hug, PhD Fellow 2008-2011, University of St.Gallen | Managing Nonprofits’ Multiple Accountabilities

Martin Herrndorf, PhD Fellow 2008-2011, University of St.Gallen | Sustainable Management – Social Entrepreneurship

Kim Poldner, PhD Fellow 2008-2011, University of St.Gallen | Sustainable Entrepreneurs in the Fashion Industry

Liudmila Nazarkina, PhD Fellow 2009-2012, University of St.Gallen | Growth Strategies of Sustainability Entrepreneurs

Johannes Schwarzer, PhD Fellow 2009-2012, University of St.Gallen |International Economic Policy Regimes

Patricia Mesquita, PhD Fellow 2009-2012, University of St.Gallen |Tim Lehmann, PhD Fellow 2011-2014, University of St.Gallen | Science and Technology

Lena Hörnlein, PhD Fellow 2014, University of Zurich | Sustainable Finance

Stefano Ramelli, PhD Fellow 2016-2018, University of Zurich | Sustainable Finance

Carlos Vargas, PhD Fellow 2017, University of Zurich | Sustainable Finance


J. Christopher Proctor J. Christopher Proctor oikos Associate 2017/2018Pluralist Economics

Christoph RappitschChristoph Rappitschoikos Associate 2016Digitalization and Sustainability

Become a fellow

Fellows need to demonstrate high analytical skills, solid knowledge in their field of management, finance, or economics, a commitment to sustainability, as well as strong leadership and personal competences. Fulfilling the formal requirements for doctoral studies at the university where the fellowship is awarded is a must. Fluent English is essential. Additional language skills are an advantage.

There are currently no calls for applications for oikos PhD Fellowship. If you are interested in receiving information about future calls, please let us know by writing an e-mail to fellowships[at]

Formal Requirements

Q: What are the formal requirements for doctoral studies that oikos PhD Fellows need to fulfill?

A: Fellows have to meet the requirements for doctoral studies at the university for which the fellowship is awarded. The applicable requirements are referenced in each call for applications.

Research Proposal

Q: I have a research idea about the proposal that I am going to submit for the oikos PhD Fellowship Programme and would highly appreciate your feedback. Can I send it in?

A: We do not review or comment on draft research proposals prior to an application to assure a fair and transparent application process for all applicants.

Q: In the application form there’s a section for a proposed research topic. Does this have to be the final topic of one’s thesis or is it tentative?

A: The topic is tentative. You will receive additional input and inspiration from your supervisor and the course phase of your doctoral studies. The proposal draft is requested to evaluate your academic capabilities but is not binding for your thesis. However, whichever shape it takes, it should always be related to the focus of your fellowship, e.g. “Finance and Sustainability” for the next round of fellowships that will be awarded.

Doctoral Supervisor

Q: Within the proposed PhD project I would like to work on topic X with Prof. Y from the University of Z. Will this be possible within the oikos PhD Fellowship Program?

A :oikos is strongly encouraging international academic networking. Your first supervisor must be a faculty member of the university where the fellowship is awarded. We will assist accepted candidates to identify the best option. A second supervisor can be part of the faculty of another international academic institution.

oikos Programs

Q: What oikos programs do the Fellows engage in?

A: Fellows take the lead for specific oikos initiatives that are related to their topic, e.g. the organization of an oikos Young Scholars Academy on finance, and support oikos chapters in running their own projects on the topic.


Q: Are courses taught in English?

A: Yes, the doctoral programmes for which oikos PhD fellowships are awarded are in English.

Q: What language do you speak at oikos?

A: The language in oikos is English. Other languages are an asset.

Q: Do you encourage native English speaker without German language knowledge to apply?

A: Yes! Absolutely.