About INREF

INREF is the development oriented Interdisciplinary Research and Education Fund of Wageningen University. Most of the problem oriented research is conducted by 'sandwich' PhD students working in groups on complex topics concerning the developing countries and emerging economies.

In addition to knowledge generation, the INREF programme strives for strengthening the institutional and human research, development and education capacity in the South, and developing new interdisciplinary and participatory approaches by creating an enabling learning environment. 

Click on one of the elements below to learn more about the INREF programme.


Scope and Objective

The objectives of the INREF programme are:

To produce research results that really make a difference for the end-users envisaged (universities, researchers, policy makers, NGOs, farmers, etc.);

To conduct and trigger innovative, interdisciplinary (natural sciences - social sciences) and comparative (North-South, South-South) research, development and education (RDE) within Wageningen UR;

To strengthen the education programmes on interdisciplinary issues at Wageningen University and partner institutions;

To exploit and expand strategic international RDE partnerships;

To attract additional funding (leverage function).

Goal

Wageningen UR has defined its mission as making essential contributions to the quality of life with pioneering research and innovative teaching programmes in the areas of (i) nutrition and health, (ii) sustainable agro systems; (iii) a viable environment; and (iv) processes of social change.

To contribute to the international aspects of the Wageningen UR mission, the RDE activities of the INREF programme:

will have a problem- and social issue-oriented focus;

will apply and develop interdisciplinary and participatory research approaches;

will develop and strengthen national, regional and world-wide RDE partnerships;

will aim at personal and institutional capacity building in the South.

Expected outputs

The main expected outputs of the INREF Programme are:

New, interdisciplinary and innovative research methodologies developed;

Increased knowledge on cross-cutting societal problems in RDE;

Expanded strategic international RDE partnerships, including stronger cooperation within Wageningen University and “broader” Wageningen;

Scientific knowledge and information that can be used for well-described categories of clients (policy makers, research and education organisations, farmers or others) in the fields of RDE;

Interdisciplinary education programmes or modules developed at Wageningen University and/or partner institutions for BSc, MSc and PhD students and staff members.

Increased capacity for RDE in Southern and Northern countries;

Stronger position of Wageningen UR in the RDE market due to increased knowledge about, and experiences with interdisciplinary and comparative RDE.

Programme scheduling

Multi-annual programmes are formulated after a Call for Proposals is published. Calls have been published in 2000, 2005, 2007, 2010 and March 2014. In total 17 multi-annual programmes have been approved for funding.

Implementation

The INREF PhD students conduct their activities within the so-called “sandwich formula”. This means that they are in Wageningen to do the preparatory courses and to develop their research plan in the first year, and to write up their thesis at the end of the last year. During the period in between, they conduct their research in their home institutions in the South. This approach has several advantages. The PhD student conducts research on a subject that is important for and partly funded by his or her country of origin. This assures involvement of the national institutions and provides some degree of institution building as the PhD graduates are very likely to remain at their jobs in their home countries.

The method of working with groups of PhD students (8-12 per programme) has a number of advantages. Each of the students will study part of the problem but in concerted action a comprehensive understanding of the functioning of the complex system is developed and solutions for the problems formulated. Working with these groups of students is particularly effective in facilitating the joint learning process and allowed group processes to take place, particularly when discussing broader political, cultural and ethical issues.

During the research phase, the PhD students working within one programme will remain in intensive contact on the various research aspects. In most cases each PhD student has two supervisors in Wageningen, one with a natural science focus and the other with a social science focus. This does form a well-structured basis for developing a truly interdisciplinary approach, which most often follows the concept of disciplinary depth, next to interdisciplinary awareness.

To produce research results that really make a difference for the end-users envisaged (universities, researchers, policy makers, NGOs, farmers, etc.);

To conduct and trigger innovative, interdisciplinary (natural sciences - social sciences) and comparative (North-South, South-South) research, development and education (RDE) within Wageningen UR;

To strengthen the education programmes on interdisciplinary issues at Wageningen University and partner institutions;

To exploit and expand strategic international RDE partnerships;

To attract additional funding (leverage function).