Christer De Silva at a workshop at the University of Twente

Unravelling uncertainty in transdisciplinary research at the University of Twente

Publication date
Thursday, 13 Jun 2024

Transdisciplinary research might not be easy, but it is certainly worth it –this is just one of the things PhD Researcher Christer De Silva took away from a workshop he attended at the University of Twente.

Christer recently travelled to Enschede to take the PhD Course 'Transformative Research for Sustainability Challenges'. The course ran from April 22 to May 3, 2024, with a lot of learning stemming from the theme 'what is “transformative research", and what roles does it entail?'.

Christer worked with a group of other PhD Candidates to evaluate a case study on transformative research on "Indigenous futures thinking: Changing the narrative and re-building based on re-rooting". 


Christer De Silva during a conversation cafe


The main course assignment at the workshop was developing a transformative research narrative. It was led by Assistant Prof. Josephine Chambers, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University (Netherlands) and Prof. Esther Turnhout, Chair of Science, Technology & Society, University of Twente (Netherlands).

Through a conversation cafe, Christer and his fellow workshop attendees presented their insights on the power of mobilising knowledges for transformative change and the value of reciprocity in weaving different knowledge systems. One of the proponents of the case study was Dr. Maria Tengo, Principal Researcher at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University (Sweden) and the Special Professor in Human-Nature Relationships in the Anthropocene, Wageningen University & Research (Netherlands).

Christer says that the two weeks at the workshop were affirming.

"Transdisciplinary (and sustainability) research can often be confusing, frustrating, and isolating. Sustainability issues are complex. Actions happen slowly. Enabling structures for transformative research are lacking. This workshop has taught me that it’s okay to stay with the trouble, embrace the mess, and make peace with uncertainty."