Transdisciplinary Research Training begins in Stellenbosch, South Africa


As part of the ISSC’s mission to promote research with and for society, an introductory training workshop on transdisciplinary (TD) research begins today at the Centre for Complex Systems in Transition at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. Participants from across Africa will take part in the workshops, which aim to pilot and refine a new outline curricula for capacity development in transdisciplinary research. The training workshops are supported and funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa.

In 2014, the ISSC brought together transdisciplinary researchers and practitioners for an expert workshop to design an initiative to support and sustain capacity development in transdisciplinary (TD) research at national and international levels. The 2014 workshop was organized by the ISSC and the NRF in response to calls from the Belmont Forum of funding agencies to strengthen capacity in the development, use and evaluation of TD approaches.

The 2014 workshop produced outlines for curricula for Introductory Courses and Advanced Institutes on TD research. The proposed curricula have been designed to support and sustain the efforts to develop and build TD capacity at national to global level, targeting researchers and their TD research partners, as well as research managers/funders. The workshop beginning today is a continuation of this initiative.

In recent years, transdisciplinary research has emerged not as a ‘new science’ per se, but rather as a new integrative methodology for doing science with society; using integrative methods for bringing together relevant science and societal actors/stakeholders with whom to co-produce the necessary theoretical and practical knowledge for contributing to transformative social innovation required for transitioning to a more just and sustainable society. The complex challenges facing the world today underline the need for effective TD research specifically orientated to resolve ‘real-world’ (i.e. encompassing policy-driven research toward societal benefit) problems that are too complex and multidimensional to be answered by singular research disciplines.

The TD research training workshop is an ISSC activity organised by START and convened by the Centre for Complex Systems in Transition at Stellenbosch University in partnership with the Transdisciplinary Lab at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, and supported by the NRF.

The ISSC and co-organizers would like to acknowledge the continued financial support and encouragement provided by the NRF throughout the development of this bold new initiative.