Interdisciplinary Community Service Learning: Addressing Challenges Through Transdisciplinary Research


Course Objective

The objectives of this course are to:
- Become familiar with and acquire experience in interdisciplinary and
transdisciplinary research and Community Service Learning (CSL)
- Acquire insight in the complexity of wicked challenges and
corresponding multi-actor systems
- Be able to integrate knowledge from different disciplines in order to
produce results, insights, and solutions that transcend disciplines and
impact beyond disciplinary or organizational barriers
- Gain insight in the research methods of different disciplines, become
aware of their differences and similarities and strengths and
weaknesses, acquire the ability to implement them complementarily
- Learn and practice to effectively self-manage and collaborate in a
diverse team

Course Content

In the 21st century, we increasingly face complex societal challenges,
such as climate change, pollution, social segregation, digitalization,
and inequality in health, literacy, and wealth. These so-called ‘wicked’
problems transcend disciplines and involve a wide variety of actors. Due
to their complex and inter-related nature, addressing these challenges
requires a transdisciplinary approach: integrating knowledge from
different academic disciplines and actively involving relevant actors at
and beyond campus.
This course runs parallel to a thesis, graduation project, or
internship. Interdisciplinary student teams integrate their individual
research projects to contribute to a large societal issue, through
research questions that have been defined a priori in the course
“Interdisciplinary Community Service Learning: Defining Challenges in a
Multi Stakeholder Context”. This course connects the different research
project, and adds interdisciplinarity through integration and
reflection. The interdisciplinary team meets periodically for
intervision, reflection, and integration. The team works towards a
collective report integrating the disciplinary findings to arrive at a
higher, more applicable, and more holistic answer to the overall
research question.
The course builds up to the Students Parliament near the end of the
course. The end results of the course are presented and discussed in a
joint transdisciplinary process, at which students, societal actors, and
scientists share, interpret, and integrate knowledge, experiences, and
opportunities for follow-up.

Teaching Methods

‘Interdisciplinary Community Service Learning: Addressing Challenges
through Transdisciplinary Research’ is a part-time course, spread out
over a 28-week period (6 ECTS). The total study time is approximately
164 hours. Tuition methods include supervised and unsupervised group
meetings, group project work, and the Student Parliament.

The different elements have the following study time:
- Face-to-face meetings (workgroups, training, intervision meetings): 28
- Project work & self-study (assignments, preparation of Student
Parliament): 135 hours

Attending the Student Parliament is mandatory requirement, it will not
be possible to pass the course without having attended.

Method of Assessment

The course grade is based on two group grades for the end products:
* Written report
* Presentation at the Student Parliament.
In addition, personal process performance is graded individually. Each
component of the grade needs to be 5.5 or higher to pass the course.


Literature will be made available at the start of the course.

Target Audience

The course ‘Interdisciplinary Community Service Learning: Addressing
Challenges through Transdisciplinary Research’ is an elective within the
master program ‘Management, Policy Analysis and Entrepreneurship in
Health and Life Sciences’, but it can be followed as an optional course
for master students from across the VU University.
Please contact the course coordinator prior to enrollment.

Additional Information

The entire course is in English.
Registration through VUnet.

Explanation Canvas

All lectures, reading materials, videos, assignments and further
information will be provided on Canvas

General Information

Course Code AM_1253
Credits 6 EC
Period P4+5+6
Course Level 500
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator dr. T.P. Groen
Examiner prof. dr. M.B.M. Zweekhorst
Teaching Staff

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Study Group, Meeting
Target audiences

This course is also available as: