In February 2015 I had the opportunity to attend a PhD Winter School at the University of Basel in Basel, Switzerland. The week-long training session revolved around research in sustainable development and specifically focused on interdisciplinary PhD research. There were 15 PhD students from 5 continents, studying in diverse fields such as management, law and economics, and investigating a broad range of issues from trade in endangered medicinal plants and poverty traps to waste management and the ideal temperature to produce biochar. The multidisciplinary background of the participants and the multilingual environment were very stimulating. It was an intense week with long days, yet they flew by quickly, fueled by fruitful discussions, clear blue skies and copious amounts of coffee. Guided by the question of how to achieve relevant results on sound methods, students and organizers presented their research and approaches through both poster and oral presentations in order to discuss what it means to engage in interdisciplinary research. At first, we struggled with the fact that interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary are not sharply defined terms, yet we soon gained a better understanding of the different types of interdisciplinary research. The discourse on interdisciplinary as well as group-thinking about each others research provided valuable inputs that will certainly flow into the further development of my proposed research which not only draws from several disciplines but is also transdisciplinary through the inclusion of Inuit knowledge.
(Here’s the link to the Winter School’s website in case you want to hyperlink it:
By: Mirjam Held (TOSST Ph.D. Candidate)