Recommendations research assessment 2021 Climate, Water & Society (CWS)

Executive summary

The committee found that the Climate, Water & Society (CWS) is a diverse cluster with a broad scientific focus, very topical expertise and excellent research. However, the committee found that the cluster’s vision on where it wants to go is not yet fully articulated. It struck the committee that many of the CWS cluster’s most influential publications are about transdisciplinary topics. It is therefore appropriate that the cluster strives to increase collaboration between groups, and the committee fully endorses this ambition. The biggest challenge for the CWS cluster is to set priorities. The committee observed that the CWS cluster makes excellent contributions to society at different levels, from the municipal to the international scale. If the cluster succeeds in its ambition to create more inter- and transdisciplinarity, this will allow it to have more direct relevance for a variety of stakeholders, and thus increase its impact even further. It would also help to incorporate more social sciences expertise. Currently, the societal dimension is prominent in the CWS cluster’s mission, but weaker in the actual research activities and not entirely integrated. PhDs candidates within the CWS cluster experience a lot of room for creative input into their own trajectory. However, the flipside of the freedom they have is that they find it sometimes difficult to plan and finish their theses in time. The CWS cluster correctly identifies a lack of diversity in the tenured staff as one of its weaknesses. Overall, the committee was impressed by the high quality of research and impact within the cluster.

Main Recommendations

  • Embark on a focused effort to build a vision on where you want to be in six years. In doing so, look broader than just the water topic. Take into account your great expertise on for instance climate, energy storage systems, biodiversity, and pollution.
  • Subsequently, determine what combinations of expertise are necessary to perform cutting-edge research with regard to the challenges you identified.
  • Be bolder, and do not shy away from international ambitions
  • Define stakeholder groups and processes more distinctly, and develop a strategy for interactions at the science-policy interface. This will lead to trans- or interdisciplinarity in a natural way.
  • Give high priority to organizing the cross-disciplinary PhD activities you planned. Hire a staff member dedicated to improving funding for interdisciplinary research projects.
  • Integrate social science and even humanities into the natural and life sciences.
  • Put clear interventions and targets in in place to hire and keep female and international full and associate professors.
  • Train supervisors to intervene when PhD students are overambitious.