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Transdisciplinary Skills


Admission requirements

This course is obligatory for students of the MSc Governance of Sustainability.


The governance of sustainability deals with problems that originate from different, but highly interrelated realms (e.g., biophysical phenomena, human behaviour, economical dynamics). Understanding these interrelations and the diversity of language that is particular to each of the realms is crucial to tackle these problems and address complex sustainability challenges. To navigate this complexity, it is necessary to go beyond disciplinary boundaries and to find innovative and tailored solutions. Transdisciplinarity is acknowledged as the appropriate methodological approach to advance the science of sustainability. It entails the integration of different kinds of knowledge, not only from scientific disciplines but especially also from societal actors, who are practitioners, citizens and/or users of scientific outputs and involved in the real-word problems. How can we make sure that all these stakeholders work together and understand each other effectively? To this goal, transdisciplinary skills are needed. The main goal of this course is to provide students with a mind-set, a lexicon, communicative skills and operational tools to connect dots from the different disciplinary fields they are going to encounter during the Master Governance of Sustainability and to link these concepts with real world actors.

Course objectives

At the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Recognize and understand transdisciplinarity meanings and epistemological foundations

  • Use transdisciplinarity lexicon and concepts in presentations and written outputs

  • Create a collaborative workgroup environment by using a team-oriented communicative approach based on active listening, peer-feedback, verbal and non-verbal language use and group dynamics management

  • Analyse sustainability problems and challenges from a transdisciplinary perspective with the help of transdisicplinary tools

  • Use and assess a variety of sources of information including scientific articles, governmental and non-governmental reports, media outlets and interviews with local stakeholders

  • Create different written and oral presentation outputs for scientific and non-scientific audiences


You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have successfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of instruction

The course will consist of theoretical plenary lectures, lectures and tutorials on skills and tools, guest lectures and workgroup assignments. Workgroup outputs will be presented in various ways (video, stories, posters). Students will be asked to take part in debates, interactive exercises and role plays. Guests will be invited to present ideas and case studies.

Assessment method

The course has the following assessments:

  • An individual essay/blog on an assigned societal case study using transdisciplinary lexicon and literature (30%)

  • two peer reviews of workgroup assignment outputs (20%)

  • an assessment of workgroup outputs made of individual contributions (a blog post per each group member) and a final output (a whole blog plus a visual output like a poster) related to a theory of change (50%).

The average grade of the three assessments needs to be 5.5 or higher to pass the course.
In addition, a minimum mark of 5.5 for the individual blog post and the whole group assignment is necessary to pass the course. In case of a lower grade, the student(s) will have to redo the assignment within five weeks after the release of the first grade.

Presence at all plenary lectures and tutorials is required, unless extenuating circumstances apply, and active participation in workgroup assignments is deemed crucial in this course. Consistent absence (more than 30%) during plenary sessions and non-participation in workgroups as shown in attendance lists, activity logbooks and peer feedback will result in a fail for the course.

Reading list

Please see Brightspace.


Students can register themselves via MyStudymap for each course, exam and retake. Do this on time, before the start of the course. You can view your personal schedule in MyTimetable after logging in. Leiden University uses Brightspace as its online learning management system. After enrolment for the course in MyStudymap you will be automatically enrolled in the Brightspace environment of this course.

After registering for an exam, you must confirm your attendance via MyStudymap. Without this confirmation, you are not allowed to participate in the exam or retake of the course. Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.

Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.

Furthermore, there are two registration periods per year:
First semester / fall semester: opens in July
Second semester / spring semester: opens in December

More information about course and exam enrolment can be found here


Course Coordinator(s): Merlijn van Weerd, Antonella Maiello

Drs. M. van Weerd

Dr. A. Maiello


MSc Governance of Sustainabilty students can register for the course and exam via uSis. Other students need to contact the study advisors of the programme via