Collaboration for innovation: transdisciplinary research programs

The global challenges that we face such as climate change, ageing and depletion of natural resources cannot be solved with disciplinary knowledge only. Rather, research should integrate concepts and approaches from several disciplines and knowledge both from academic and non-academic actors.

Over the past decade numerous transdisciplinary programs have been carried out, bringing together a wide range of actors and perspectives. Examples include Knowledge for Climate, Transforum and Next Generation Infrastructures.

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KWR has started a project to learn from this experience about fruitful ways of organizing the interaction among a heterogeneous set of participants. How to facilitate productive interaction among organisations that each have different convictions, stakes, preferences and expectations? Particular focus will be on the inequality of actors in terms of resources such as knowledge, power and money.

The student is expected to contribute to the project by conducting one or more in-depth case studies of programs finished in the recent past, primarily using qualitative research methods. The specific case(s) and the methodological approach can be decided together with the student, taking into account personal preferences and competences.

The research will be carried out at KWR Watercycle Research Institute. At KWR we are currently designing a new collective research program on water in the circular economy, in which we will collaborate with water companies, other utilities, authorities, industry and consumers. The results of the current research project will be translated into recommendations for the design and coordination approach of the program.

The student will function as part of the Innovation & Valorisation team, which is responsible for initiating and coordinating research and innovation in multi-actor programs, projects and networks.

The student will be supervised by Laurens Hessels, senior researcher in innovation studies.

The student should have received training in qualitative research methods, in particular semi-structured interviews and desk research.

Organisation: KWR Watercycle Research Institute

Start: to be determined
Length: Between 3 and 6 months
Location: Nieuwegein
Language: Dutch or English
Compensation: 275 euros per month