Introducing... The coordinator of the Vienna Doctoral School


Raphael Gustavo Aybar Valdivia started as coordinator of the VDP in October. In the following interview he introduces himself and his work.

Raphael, you started working as the coordinator of the Vienna Doctoral School of Philosophy in autumn. Can you tell us something about your work and your tasks so far?

Being the coordinator of the Vienna Doctoral School of Philosophy (VDP) is an exciting and challenging position. I enjoy working for a fantastic group of doctoral students conducting highly promising research. So far, I am supporting the directors in their policy-making activities and students with their initiatives.

I am responsible for processing student funding applications, such as conference attendance and event organization grants. I also coordinate the Pragmatic Academic Series which provides a space to discuss and to find information relevant to doctoral students' academic life. Student initiatives I support include the new Writing Evenings, which aim to provide an optimal environment for students to advance in their dissertations. Finally, I am responsible for introducing new members to the school, keeping track of their progress, and monitoring and updating the school data.

What are your plans for 2023?

On the advice of our directors and professors, I intend to focus on small but significant changes while I adapt to the coordinator role. Hence, I am not planning to make any radically new policy for 2023. Instead, I plan to diligently process students' applications and provide them with important and timely information. In addition, I aim to engage more students in the organization of the school's academic life by inviting them to propose topics and be organizers of the Pragmatic Academic Series. I also support a group of doctoral students and postdocs in the VDP 2023 Summer School, Ethics and Inclusivity. Other smaller plans include implementing an alumni scheme, establishing new partnerships, and improving our training, especially by developing new digital resources. 

What are the goals of the Doctoral School?

The VDP aims to be an environment enabling its students to conduct research meeting the highest academic standards for the doctoral level. The VDP Steering Committee is planning to evaluate and implement policies for improving our training and facilitating the progress of our students, such as the development of a cumulative dissertation guidance. Other pressing issues are developing a clearer policy to deal with potential conflicts with our members, particularly in supervisor-supervisee relationships. 

How many students do you have and can you give a short overview of the most important topics?

The VDP is responsible for 61 students. This is approximately half of the total number of students doing their doctorate in philosophy at the University of Vienna. The main topics are theoretical philosophy, practical philosophy, and the history of philosophy. We also have a large number of students working in social epistemology, philosophy of science, philosophy of language, and logic. The VDP does not only have one single research area, and the heterogeneity of the research conducted here echoes the manifold of traditions within philosophy.

Do you have any events planned?

The upcoming Pragmatic Academic Series will be on the following topics: graduate applications and research proposals, mental health, life after the PhD, and publishing. In addition, we plan to continue the Writing Evenings, an ongoing workshop on Mondays from 16:00 to 20:00, where students can come and work together on their dissertations under a peer-pressure scheme. This is a fantastic place for students to work together, meet new people, and make progress in their dissertations. Advanced master students and postdocs are also welcome. Finally, the summer school, Ethics and Inclusivity, will be our biggest event. We invite doctoral students and postdocs worldwide to apply to the summer school, which covers a wide range of topics within practical philosophy, including action theory, political philosophy and epistemology, and social philosophy.

If I were interested in starting a study programme at the Doctoral School, what do I do and where do I go?

Please consider reading the information on our website: In addition, here is the relevant information for applying to doctoral programs at the University of Vienna:

If you have questions concerning admission to the doctoral programme in philosophy, please write a message to

Once admitted, I will contact you to ask you to join the VDP. Furthermore, I will invite you to a meeting to explain the benefits of being a member of the VDP and introduce you to the school. You can also write to me any time with questions at