After completion of the course the student is able to:
- contribute to the analysis of a multidisciplinary sustainable development issue from his/her disciplinary or track-specific background;
- contribute to the design of an integrated research\action program aimed at resolving these issues;
- take responsibility for, and be able to defend, the outcomes of the multidisciplinary analysis and the integrated research program.
This course focuses on the integration of insights from different knowledge domains which are necessary to realise sustainable development.
Sustainable development issues are characterised by their multi-disciplinary character, and the fact that they are not merely an academic exercise but pertain to real-world problems. They show large complexity as a result of mutual interaction between social and biophysical systems. Regular or ‘normal’ scientific approaches tend to focus on more or less disciplinary aspects of the problem in isolation, using an ‘objective’ analytical perspective. In the contrary, it has been argued sustainable development issues are in need of a ‘Post-Normal Science’ in which there are multiple legitimate perspectives, related to values and world views of individuals or groups, and the full complexity including its uncertainty should be part of the scientific analysis (Functowitz and Ravetz, 1993). The multiplicity of world views also allows for non-scientific stakeholders to enter into the problem analysis and problem solving arena, enabling the addition of tacit knowledge to the formal scientific knowledge. The resulting networks involving public-private partnerships and the collaboration with community organisations have given rise to new forms of governance. Such participation of multiple stakeholders and scientific specialists involved in sustainability research and problem solving, necessitates forms of integration of the multidisciplinary knowledge being produced. Such research is often termed transdisciplinary.
In this course students will enter the transdisciplinary arena. They will be confronted with a real-world problem of a real- world client. The students will work in multidisciplinary groups to analyse the client’s problem. The will analyse the multidisciplinary problem from their own (track-)specific background, and integrate their scientific knowledge with that of other students, and with the tacit knowledge of stakeholders.