OPENING DOORS: Online course for Europe will ‘reimagine PhD education’

Submitted on Friday, 12/02/2021
EU partners to develop course in open science and open innovation for research students across member states


Researchers at the Insight SFI Centre for Data Analytics are part of a European consortium set to develop a new online course for PhD students that will develop skills in entrepreneurship, technology and open science.

The objective of the OPENING DOORS initiative is to develop an educational programme that spans disciplinary, geographic and sectoral boundaries. The project is designed to foster more open, innovative, socially aware and entrepreneurial research graduates, ready to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing work environment.

This will be accomplished through a challenge-based, open, online educational course in open science and open innovation, offered to students across Europe. This educational programme will be co-designed with key stakeholders from open innovation networks including current PhD students and postgraduates, employers of research graduates, PhD educators and stakeholders from public service sectors and citizen groups.

Trends in globalisation and technological advances indicate increasing demand for new types of knowledge and skills in the European workforce. A gap has been identified in current PhD programmes in meeting future employment needs. Current curricula do not always foster big-picture thinkers and creative problem-solvers – graduate attributes that our society needs, according to analysts.

There is a growing need to re-imagine a PhD education that incentivises doctoral students to engage with other knowledge creators and users, not only within their discipline, but also across other disciplines and sectors to have meaningful societal and economic impact.


OPENING DOORS is funded by Europe’s “Science with and for Society” H2020 programme, which aligns perfectly with Insight’s Education and Public Engagement strategy. Researchers from University College Dublin; Maynooth University; Aarhus University, Denmark; National Training Fund, Czech Republic and the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, Japan will undertake the project over a period of 15 months.


Project co-ordinator Dr. Denise McGrath, Chair of the Education and Public Engagement Committee at the Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics at University College Dublin, speaking today, following the project kick-off meeting, said:


“We see this project making an impact at three levels – changing people’s understanding about open science and open innovation; building capacity to change how organisations interact with knowledge networks, embedding real connectivity; and changing how PhD education is undertaken in third level institutions.

“We want to shape new educational practices that integrate personhood and innovation in early career researchers that extends to the public good. I’m very excited to work on a project where collaborative endeavour is such a central theme running through every aspect of the research programme”.

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OPENING DOORS Participating organisations

Coordinator: University College Dublin (Ireland) and Insight Centre for Data Analytics
Dr Denise McGrath, a funded investigator in the Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics and Chair of the Centre’s Education and Public Engagement committee will lead the overall scientific and administrative coordination of OPENING DOORS. She will be supported by Associate Professor Tara Cusack, an expert in educational evaluation and interdisciplinary education and coordinator of the CHAMELEONS programme which will provide invaluable insights and networks that will be leveraged to enhance both projects. Dr. Eleni Makri joins the Insight Centre as the postdoctoral researcher on the project, with expertise in organisational psychology and ICT in education and learning.

Partner organisations

Aarhus University (Denmark)

Led by Associate Professor Christian Dalsgaard, Associate Professor Soren Smedegaard Bengsten and Associate Professor Francesco Caviglia, the Centre for Teaching Development and Digital Media (TDM) at Aarhus University will provide expertise in doctoral education and supervision, open science, educational technology and digital media in learning. Aarhus will lead the development and deployment of the open online platform in OPENING DOORS.

Maynooth U (Ireland)

Dr Nicola Mountford with expertise in interdisciplinary doctoral education and vast experience in designing and leading MSCA Innovation Training Networks will lead the curriculum co-designing within OPENING DOORS.

National Training Fund (Czech Republic)

Led by Michal Janíčko, the National Training Fund has extensive experience in providing services in the area of employment, human resources development and further professional education. Their expertise will be vital to the creation of guidelines for a targeted analysis of skills sought by employers and will guide the curriculum co-design process of the educational intervention.

Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (Japan)

Professor Yasuhisa Kondo, an expert in theory and methods of open science, participatory action research and transdisciplinary research will provide a valuable insight on how to communicate and cultivate fluency of ideas within transdisciplinary/cross-sectoral teams.

Project website under construction but for more information contact Denise McGrath ( or visit the EU Cordis webpage for this project: or follow the project on Twitter @OPENINGDOORSEU.

This project is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under grant agreement No. 101006514.