Research School for Socio-Economic and
Natural Sciences of the Environment
Research School for Socio-Economic and
Natural Sciences of the Environment

Integrating disciplinary approaches in health sustainable development, resource- and conflict management

Date: 08 January 2019 - 29 January 2019

Background and aim

Human, animal and environmental health are inextricably linked. Understanding causes and impacts of global challenges such as, for example, the spread of infectious diseases, antibiotic resistance, obesity or malnutrition, requires synergetic and multiple scientific approaches. Moreover, identifying sustainable solutions requires an active involvement of societal actors, including citizens. Interdisciplinary approaches have been widely discussed, yet are rarely implemented in practice as this requires scientists not only to collaborate, but also to integrate information (theories, concepts, techniques, tools, data, and perspectives) or to address challenges that are beyond the scope of a single discipline. Even more scarce are trans-disciplinary approaches in which researchers do not only contribute to their unique expertise but move beyond their own discipline to capture complexity and create new intellectual spaces leading to new holistic solutions.

Due to time and resource constraints PhD research projects usually cannot follow such a broad approach. Still, learning to reflect on a PhD research project from an integral perspective is crucial for becoming able to identify and exploit synergies between complementary disciplines, their theories, methods and working styles. Furthermore, it facilitates a convincing communication about research concepts, approaches and results with colleagues and other target audiences outside one’s core discipline(s). Ultimately, an integral approach to research stimulates interdisciplinary collaboration in and outside academia, which is essential for developing long-term strategies and solutions related to human, animal and environmental health and sustainable development. Integral theory offers a framework that allows positioning our (disciplinary) scientific concepts, methods and results into a broader framework of integral science (e.g. Brown, 2005; Lundi, 2010; Esbjörn-Hargens and Zimmerman, 2009). In particular, it offers a meta theory that draws from as many fields of knowledge and sources of knowledge as possible as a point of departure for developing integral approaches in health, sustainable development, resource- and conflict management. Using this framework, the aims of this interdisciplinary window are:

  1. to create awareness on complementary perspectives, approaches and working styles in research projects addressing issues of health, sustainable development, resource- and conflict management
  2. to identify and apply tools that facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration between PhDs, external stakeholders and citizens within these domains.


In total there will be four meetings of 4 hours. PhD candidates will be asked to do (interdisciplinary) group work to prepare for the next meeting.

Target group

PhD candidates from all disciplines and all stages of their PhD project.

OrganisationWageningen School of Social Sciences (WASS)
Intended credits2,0 ECTS
Course organisation
Contact person (content):Silke Gabbert
Contact person (logistics): Marcella Haan 
More informationWebsite WASS PhD Education Programme