Doctoral Program PROWEL

Social Problems and Social Welfare

Prowel offers thematic and methodological workshops to support doctoral students (not a Graduate School). To promote the participation of international doctoral students and also bridge the French-German divide, a large part of the program is offered in English. The dissertations man be written in any language agreed with the supervisor(s). The doctoral program is research-oriented, interdisciplinary and oriented towards learn-processes that qualify graduate researchers academically. Furthermore, the doctoral program aims at enhancing the doctoral students’ networks nationally and internationally by motivating and teaching them to organize and actively participate in scientific conferences. PROWEL is a doctoral program of the University of Fribourg in collaboration with the University of Neuchâtel. It is financed by the SUK.

  • Thematic Focus

    The doctoral program PROWEL aims at furthering knowledge from an interdisciplinary view on key issues regarding the analysis of the production, re-production and change in individual, organizational and social welfare. Social problems are issues that (parts of) societies define as problematic or that evolve to be problematic when they are socially and explicitly perceived. The term welfare is used in a broad understanding: it refers to both material and immaterial aspects of wellbeing, such as (availability and/or access to) economic resources or social services, but also feelings of belonging, happiness, satisfaction or trust, on various societal levels (the micro, meso and macro level). Sources of wellbeing and welfare are the state, markets, households/families, communities and nonprofit organizations. Institutions and actors’ actions, omission or negligence of actions, (implicit or explicit) traditions or regulations within specific institutions, or their interplay produce or maintain wellbeing and welfare. Social inequalities provide a theoretical and analytical framework for the analysis of social problems and welfare and build one common point of departure for the doctoral program. Areas of research broadly are the production, re-production, change and outcomes in individual, organizational and societal wellbeing and welfare and include (i) social problems: their identification, perception and handling by concerned or involved actors within institutions; (ii) actors and institutions as well as their interplay (such as states, markets, communities, organizations and households and families); (iii) social outcomes of dealing with social problems.

  • Target Group

    The doctoral program targets students of various disciplines dealing with the issues of the umbrella theme in different ways: sociology, social policy, social work, political sciences, special education, educational sciences, criminology, economics, science of religions, social anthropology, or contemporary history. Candidates must have a supervisor for their PhD project before applying to this doctoral program. The doctoral program offers no scholarships or jobs.

  • Information and application

    Doctoral students may join the program any time and finish their thesis according to their individual progress. They are expected to present an input or his/her work in progress to a selective group of experts at least at one workshop every year and to comment on other inputs. Candidates must have a supervisor for their PhD project BEFORE applying to this doctoral program. PROWEL does not liaise to potential supervisors and offers no scholarships.

    To apply for the doctoral program PROWEL, please fill in this application form and send it with the PhD project outline to prowel(at) or by postal mail to Dr. Nadine Arnold, c/o University of Fribourg, Department of Social Sciences, Route des Bonnesfontaines 11, 1700 Fribourg. For further questions, please contact Dr. Nadine Arnold by mail or by phone +41 26 300 77 96.

  • Structure

    The methodological and thematic needs of students are continuously evaluated. Accepted students are required to participate in:

    • Module 1: Thematic two-day workshops with external experts 
    • Module 2: Two-day workshop with external experts (work methodology)
  • Recent Workshops organized by PROWEL

    Research question / Institutional theory 

    Twann, 3-4 May 2019

    Experts: Andreas Hadjar, Nadine Arnold


    Elites and Mixed Methods 

    Twann, 19-20 October 2018

    Experts: Peter Imbusch, Felix Knappertsbusch

    Social Inequalities  and Disability

    Twann, 4-5  May 2018

    Experts: Barbara Fritz, Lisa Pfahl


    Academic writing and publishing

    Twann, 27-28 October 2017

    Expert: Anton Froeyman


    Conceptual and empirical perspectives on poverty and wellbeing

    Twann, 5-6 May 2017

    Expert: Allister McGregor



    How to write grant proposals
    University of Fribourg, 11 June 2016

    Expert: Susanne Matuschek



    Linking theory and data
    Hotel Fontana, Twann, 29-30 April 2016

    Experts: Nina Baur, Eva Barlösius


  • Scientific direction

    Prof. Dr. Monica Budowski (Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, University of Fribourg) 
    Prof. Dr. Winfried Kronig (Specialized Pedagogy, University of Fribourg) 
    Prof. Dr. Christian Suter (Sociology, University of Neuchâtel)

  • Participants and Alumni

    Tugce Beycan, University of Neuchâtel (abstract)
    Martin Böhnel, University of Fribourg
    Baptiste Brodard, University of Fribourg (abstract)
    Cindy Diacquenod, University of Fribourg alumni (abstract)
    Martin Gasser, University of Fribourg alumni
    Marilyn Grell-Brisk, University of Neuchâtel alumni (abstract)
    Daniel Hofstetter, University of Fribourg/Goethe University Frankfurt alumni
    Anna Isenhardt, University of Fribourg alumni
    Cédric Jacot, University of Neuchâtel alumni
    Chantal Hinni, University of Fribourg alumni (abstract)
    Nina Jany, University of Fribourg (abstract)
    Jacqueline Kalbermatter, University of Fribourg alumni
    Sarah Kersten, University of Fribourg alumni
    Brigitte Kürsteiner, University of Fribourg (abstract)
    Florence Lebert, University of Fribourg alumni
    Lena Liechti, University of Fribourg alumni
    Marianne Müller, University of Fribourg (abstract)
    Stefan Niedermann, University of Fribourg alumni
    Laura Ravazzini, University of Neuchâtel alumni (abstract)
    Carla Ribeiro, University of Neuchâtel alumni (abstract)
    Stephan Rösselet, University of Fribourg (abstract)
    Antoine Sansonnens, University of Fribourg (abstract)
    Matthias Schulz, University of Fribourg
    Yvan Schulz, University of Neuchâtel alumni (abstract)
    Rebekka Sieber, University of Neuchâtel, University of Fribourg alumni (abstract)
    Jehane Simona, University of Neuchâtel alumni (abstract)
    Tenzin Sherab, University of Fribourg, University of Neuchâtel (abstract)
    Aurianne Stroude, University of Fribourg
    Sabrina Tabares, University of Neuchâtel (abstract)
    Noemi Trucco, University of Fribourg (abstract)
    Christoph Tschanz, University of Fribourg (abstract)
    Raphael Zahnd, University of Zurich alumni (abstract)
    Carmen Zurbriggen, University of Fribourg alumni (abstract)
    Aleksander Zielinski, University of Fribourg (abstract)