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The SENSE Research School Mission

The scientific mission of SENSE

The scientific mission of the SENSE Research School is to promote an integrated understanding of environmental change in terms of the mechanisms that cause it and the consequences that result from it. To fulfil this mission, the combined programmes of research and education within SENSE are aimed at the development and further improvement of scientific concepts and methods that are required for an effective disciplinary and multidisciplinary understanding of environmental change. Research and education in SENSE are dedicated to developing high quality scientific results which may be applied to practically and critically inform environmental policy perspectives.

Both the causes and the ecological and societal effects of environmental change are relevant for the development of sustainable environmental management, nature conservation, and an ecological transformation of production and consumption. The past five years have seen a further increased awareness in the scientific community as well as in society of the need for interaction and cooperation between socioeconomic and natural sciences of the environment, both nationally and internationally. This challenge for science and society is addressed by the mission of SENSE. SENSE strives to be a high quality school for researchers, where disciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches are being developed and taught for the support of scientifically based and effective environmental policies.


SENSE has three fundamental goals in which it wishes to excel

  • Education and training of PhD students in disciplinary and multidisciplinary environmental issues;
  • Scientific research of environmental changes, both with regard to the disciplinary understanding of the issues and with regard to multidisciplinary understanding in the context of society;
  • Support of society, environmental actors, and policy makers with independent and scientifically based expert advice.

To meet these objectives, the SENSE Research School is dedicated to organizing and facilitating processes of environmental learning, both in terms of relevant scientific research and in terms of relevant training and advanced education.

SENSE Meeting

The programme includes a range of disciplines, with contributions from the natural sciences (such as chemistry, biology, earth sciences, environmental technology) and socio-economic sciences (such as economics, sociology, political science). It involves monodisciplinary projects as well as integrated research in multidisciplinary teams, with the participating university institutes in SENSE complementing each other.

Understanding and addressing an environmental issue in most cases requires input from and development of a number of monodisciplinary sciences (including social sciences and environmental technology) in a multidisciplinary setting. This in turn necessitates the development and improvement of multidisciplinary concepts and methods to analyse and manage the processes underlying environmental change and degradation.

Environmental degradation is threatening and challenging societies. Anthropogenic production and consumption are leading to changes in the environment (e.g. changes in concentrations of potentially toxic substances, changes in biogeochemical cycles, changes in biodiversity, climate change), that may disturb life-supporting systems. As a result, society is faced with many undesirable and possibly irreversible consequences of its socio-economic and technological development. An important challenge is to address the issue of environmental degradation in a way that is both effective and efficient. This requires knowledge and understanding from the natural and the socioeconomic sciences.

The added value of the SENSE Research School is to increase knowledge and understanding of the various disciplines that are involved in studying environmental issues and to actively bring together scientists of these disciplines to seek comprehensive answers to such challenges. Cooperation with disciplinary research schools is an essential part of the SENSE strategy to broaden the possibilities of disciplinary depth of the educational programme and to train doctoral students (PhD equivalent) by the highest standards.

Part of the SENSE mission is to improve communication and exchange amongst disciplines and between arenas of science and arenas of policy. For this purpose the website is further developed to support the mission of SENSE at a national and international level and for facilitating the communication within the community of senior and junior scientists of the research school.

View the organisation structure online

Last modified on Apr 12, 2011 04:53:25 PM by Fokke De Jong