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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 and situations.

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.

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 assessment of the final version of an individual weekly blog reflecting on the course learnings using transdisciplinary lexicon and weekly mandatory literature (50%)

  • An assessment of final workgroup outputs of an integrated transdisciplinary workgroup assignment (50%).

  • These two grades can each be lowered with a maximum of 0.5 point per final grade if submissions of weekly assignments are handed in more than once after the deadline.

The grade of both the (adjusted) individual blog and the (adjusted) workgroup output needs to be 5.5 or higher 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. The final grade will be the average of the two assessments.

Presence at plenary lectures, guest lectures, tutorials and workshops 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 in which case the course has to be retaken the next year. This course does not have an exam so registration for examination is not necessary.

Reading list

Please see Brightspace.


Every student of all years must enroll via MyStudyMap.

In this short video, you will see step by step how to enroll in courses in MyStudyMap. Note that your enrollment is only completed when you submit your course planning in the 'Ready for enrollment' tab by clicking 'submit'.

There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information.

Please note that it is compulsory to register for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam. Keep in mind that there are enrollment deadlines, see this page for more information.

Extensive FAQ on MyStudymap 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