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Transdisciplinary skills


Admission requirements

Students of the MSc Governance of Sustainability


Governance of Sustainability students need transdisciplinary skills (TDSs) to address sustainability challenges. TDSs are required to work in a transdisciplinary (TD) setting with diverse stakeholders, cultures, sources of knowledge, experiences and backgrounds. TDSs cross the boundaries of two or more disciplines. Most international organizations, programs, projects, NGOs and applied research groups require experience with TDSs and consist of TD teams.

To be able to work together in a TD team, you need to respect each other, have an open mind and be open to different views, and understand that one discipline, be it hard-core natural science or anthropology, is not “better” than the other; they all contribute, and are needed, to a complete understanding of a sustainability issue, and to the possible development of solutions.

In this course, we will examine sustainability challenges from various perspectives to develop a better understanding of what transdisciplinarity really is. We will practice the use of a number of transdisciplinary tools that are nowadays common in sustainability research and sustainable development programs. The focus is on analyzing a sustainability issue from a holistic perspective to truly understand its magnitude, drivers, actors, impacts and possible solutions. By practicing the use of TD tools, you will be better equipped for future work in international organizations, NGOs or applied sustainability research.

Learning goals

You will leave this course with a basic understanding and stronger skills in the following areas:

  • Problem framing skills by conducting stakeholder/actor analyses and problem-tree analyses

  • Problem solving skills by defining creative solutions, theories-of-change and using SWOT assessments and logical frameworks

  • Team building skills by cooperation, sharing knowledge, conflict resolution, facilitation and peer review

  • Applying skills and developing solutions by project design, critical thinking, design thinking, synthesizing, visualization and story- telling

In addition, you will be able to:

  • Understand why sustainability challenges require transdisciplinary skills

  • Reflect upon your own opinions and ideas -- and change them upon acquiring better information

  • Create new ideas and contribute to solution development based on community and academic sources

  • Work in groups with people of diverse academic backgrounds, cultural perspectives and personal styles

Teaching methods / mode of instruction

CV-19 forces us to provide education with some physical limitations this year. Real field work is not possible, and many exercises will have to be conducted online.

Plenary lectures, workshops and workgroup presentations will be conducted on campus in the Hague on Tuesday afternoons, while also being offered online for those who cannot physically attend.

Small groups of max 10 students will perform workgroup assignments online on Wednesday afternoons, with online support by lecturers. The workgroups and individual students will also work on assignments without supervision and support at their own chosen time.

Type of assessment

Peer review of workgroup assignment outputs supplemented by individual assessment by the course lecturers. There is no exam.

Course materials / reading list

See Brightspace

Course load

Total course load: 168 hours
Plenary Lectures: 22 hours
Plenary Workshops: 24 hours
Online workgroups: 44 hours
Independant group/individual assignments: 40 hours
Self-study: 38 hours