On 23 and 24 November 2023, the third edition of the “Conference on Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Research for Sustainable Development" took place in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.
This annual conference was introduced as part of UCLouvain's “Transition Plan” that aims at “stimulating and supporting the emergence of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research in the field of sustainable development ». Over 30 contributions were presented during this edition that was attended by more than 100 participants from the Circle U. universities.
Both interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches are increasingly required to address ecological and social transition challenges involving interdependent technical, economic or socio-cultural dimensions and a plurality of social actors at the level of society. These social actors include both actors from the NGOs, private enterprises, public administrations, non-university research institutions or engaged citizens. Interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches mobilize specific disciplinary knowledge from all sectors of the university (Sciences and Technology, Social sciences and Humanities, Health Sciences), but they also attempt to integrate different types of knowledge through processes of co-construction of knowledge between researchers from different disciplines and social actors involved in transition initiatives.
Such research often requires specific support in terms of methodological tools, types of partnerships with social actors or visibility in academic journals and international conferences.
In this context, since 2021, UCLouvain has annually organized a “Conference on interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research for Sustainable Development” in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. This conference, initially centered around UCLouvain research teams and their extra-academic partners, quickly opened up to the partner universities of the European University Alliance Circle U. Since 2022, the event has been linked to the Circle U. sandpits and highlighted the projects selected for the Inter Circle U. Prize for Interdisciplinary Research (ICUP).
Thursday 23 November 2023 (17:15 - 19:15)
Opening Plenary keynotes session on « Institutional ecosystems for enhancing research impact and societal relevance of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research” facilitated by Prof. Ariane König de l’University of Luxembourg
Keynote 1 - A comparative framework for institutionalizing inter- and trans-disciplinary research and teaching in higher education
PD Dr Bianca Vienni Baptista, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Keynote 2 - Scientific mobilization of keystone actors for biosphere stewardship
Prof. Dr. Henrik Osterblöm, Stockholm University and Stockholm Resilience Centre, Sweden
Followed by an interactive master class in small break out groups, from different disciplinary backgrounds, on interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research and teaching practices at Institutions for Higer Education
Friday 24 Novemer 2023
- Thematic Sessions (all day) - Auditorium Thomas More
Following an open call for scientific contributions, researchers from Circle U. universities and UCLouvain involved in interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary research projects presented their research work or their research protocols in a series of thematic parallel sessions.
The summaries of the different contributions can be found in the book of abstracts.
- Plenary Session (11:15 – 12:45) - Auditorium Montesquieu (MONT04)
Circle U. ICUP– Best practice examples of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research in the European University Alliance Circle U.
- Aline Cordonnier (UCLouvain) - RE-MEMBER (watch the video)
- Janet Rafner (Aarhus University) - CreaVisions (watch the video)
- Therese Van Durme (UCLouvain) – BeHive (watch the video)
Panel Discussion - Upscaling of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research practices within Circle U. (Kevin Guillaume - Circle U. Secretary General)
- PD Dr Bianca Vienni Baptista, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
- Prof. Dr. Henrik Osterblöm, Stockholm University and Stockholm Resilience Centre, Sweden
- Prof. Ariane König, University of Luxembourg; Esch-sur-Alzette, GD Luxembourg
- Janet Rafner Aarhus University, Denmark
Ariane König is assistant professor at the University of Luxembourg and leads a research team active in different transdisciplinary research projects on sustainability at the water-food-energy nexus. This research serves to further develop and put into practice concepts and methods and collaborative processes to understand and act on sustainability challenges as embedded in complex dynamic systems in which the social, ecological ad technological spheres are inextricably coupled. She developed and leads an innovative transdisciplinary study programme, the ‘Certificate in Sustainability and Social Innovation’, that is open to students at all levels and professionals and contributes to doctoral school training.
Bianca Vienni Baptista is assistant professor at the ETH Zurich. She works in the field of Science, Technology and Society Studies (STS), focusing in particular on the study of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary knowledge production processes. She recently published two edited volumes on transdisciplinary research : Foundations of Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Research. A Reader (Bristol University Press) and Institutionalizing Interdisciplinarity andTransdisciplinarity.Collaboration across Cultures and Communities (Routledge).
Henrik Österblom is professor of environmental science at Stockholm University and the Stockholm Resilience Centre, where he has served as the former science director. He has co-developed the concepts of keystone actors and corporate biosphere stewardship. With a strong interest in seabirds and marine ecosystems, he is exploring ways to improve the human relationship with the ocean. He is chair of the Natural Capital Partnership Committee, Stanford University, chairman of the SeaBOS fundraising foundation and board member of Race for the Baltic fundraising foundation.