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

SENSE Research Themes

The SENSE research 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.

The five Core themes to adequately reflect the main research efforts of SENSE with regard to environmental changes:

Core 1 Environmental contaminants and nutrients
Core 2 Environmental processes and ecosystem dynamics
Core 3 Global and regional environmental change
Core 4  spa Sustainable development and social change: actors, institutions and governance
Core 5 Spatial analysis