• University of Basel logo
  • Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences logo

Partnering for Change: Link Research to Societal Challenges

How can we address societal challenges with research? Investigate the principles, processes, and uses of transdisciplinarity.

2,173 enrolled on this course

Partnering for Change: Link Research to Societal Challenges

Discover the methods and tools of transdisciplinary research.

In today’s world, we face many complex societal challenges. Projects addressing these challenges often involve actors and stakeholders from different fields and disciplines bringing together their own perspectives or knowledge on a topic. Accordingly, collaborative transdisciplinary approaches are crucial for the success of a project.

On this course, you’ll explore how to meet the challenges of conducting effective transdisciplinary research. You’ll gain insights into a variety of case studies from different fields as you learn from the experiences of peers and experts.

Download video: standard or HD

Skip to 0 minutes and 9 seconds We call complex what is difficult to understand. Systems made of parts that interact in manifold ways. Situations in which actors need to cooperate, even if they have diverging aims and approaches. Climate change is complex and so are societies. Migration starts from local necessity and leads into difficult contexts. Health care is a basic need, but faces intricate issues on a local, as well as, on a global scale. Today, we need to address many challenges that are complex. All have one thing in common. They cannot be tackled by one party alone. To improve them, several actors need to bring together what they know, jointly creating new knowledge. Researchers are often one of these actors.

Skip to 0 minutes and 59 seconds They bring science to the table to address problems that can only be solved together with decision makers and affected people. For this, they propose an approach that is called transdisciplinary research. Our cause brings together scientists from several esteemed Swiss universities and institutions who let you experience transdisciplinary research. They have the vision to share it with everybody motivated to address complex societal challenges. Five cases show how the approach may vary when applied. Climate change demands new water management systems in the Alps. Mobile pastoralists need better health care. A peripheral village faces many challenges because of tourist development. Labour migrants from Nepal to India start to understand their rights.

Skip to 1 minute and 55 seconds A project supports the World Health Organisation to address the problem of antibiotic resistance. With these cases, you will explore how transdisciplinary research works. You will investigate benefits and pitfalls. In addition, experts explain the theoretical background, proposing methods and tools, and inviting you to develop your own ideas. Many people collaborated for this course, coordinated by the network for transdisciplinary research, which is part of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences.

Skip to 2 minutes and 31 seconds They are convinced that the approach is promising to address the complex challenges in our current world.

Skip to 2 minutes and 40 seconds So find out what this means for you, for your research, for your career, for your life. We very much look forward to welcome you to the course.

What topics will you cover?

  • Research skills needed in order to produce relevant outcomes for society and academia
  • Transdisciplinarity: principles, research processes, and application
  • Guiding questions, phases, and steps in transdisciplinary projects
  • Pitfalls and opportunities in transdisciplinary projects
  • Ethical implications of co-production processes
  • Examples of transdisciplinary projects on sustainable development, migration, and health topics

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Develop your research skills as you investigate how to co-produce knowledge for society and academia.
  • Reflect transdisciplinarity – its principles, its research processes and the context in which it is promising.
  • Apply transdisciplinary approaches to societally relevant questions.
  • Identify guiding questions, phases and steps of transdisciplinary project.
  • Apply the principles and steps of transdisciplinary research to examples in order to reflect the implication for your own projects.
  • Reflect the role of scientists and stakeholders in society and consider the ethical implications of co-producing processes.

Who is the course for?

Students and researchers from all backgrounds; stakeholders involved in searching solutions for complex societal challenges. Mentoring will take place from Monday, February 22 to Sunday, April 4, 2021.

Who will you learn with?

Professor of Epidemiology at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute and the University of Basel, Switzerland.

Head of Land Resources Cluster of the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), University of Bern, Switzerland

Project leader for Capacity Building at the Network for Transdisciplinary Research, Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences, and Executive Secretary of the Global ITD-Alliance

Professor at the Institute of Geography, University of Bern. Research interests: Critical Sustainability Studies, Mobilities and Migration, Labour and Education, Digital Media, Social Learning

Co-director of the Transdisciplinarity Lab of the Department of Environmental Systems Science at ETH Zurich

Research Associate at the Institute of Sociocultural Development of Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts - Social Work, Switzerland.

I am a professor of Human Geograpy at the Institute of Geography and holder of the UNESCO Chair on Cultural and Natural Heritage and Sustainable Mountain Development, Unviersity of Bern, Switzerland.

Senior Researcher at the Global Studies Institute of the University of Geneva. Background in medicine and international relations and interest for complexity science to research antibiotic resistance

Professor of Inter- and Transdisciplinary Studies at the Center for Children’s Rights Studies, University of Geneva, Switzerland.

Who developed the course?

University of Basel

The University of Basel has an international reputation of outstanding achievements in research and teaching.

Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences

The Swiss Academies advance transdisciplinary and intercultural research with the Network for Transdisciplinary Research and the Commission for Research Partnerships with Developing Countries.

Endorsers and supporters

content provided by

Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences logo

content provided by

Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute logo

content provided by

Universität Bern logo

content provided by

USYS TdLab logo

content provided by

Université de Genève logo

content provided by

University of Lucerne Applied Sciences and Arts logo

Ways to learn

Upgrade this course


Choose the best way to learn for you!



Billed at $189.99 for a year

Learners who upgrade are 5x as likely to complete the course!*Endless possibilities!
Access to this courseticktick
Access to ALL eligible short courses with additional benefits, for a yearcrosstick
Discuss your learning in commentsticktick
Certificate when you're eligiblePrinted and digitalDigital only
Join and Upgrade

Ways to learn

Upgrade this course for extra benefits, or buy Unlimited to access this course and hundreds of other short courses for a year. Or, join this course with free basic access, limited to 8 weeks (excludes certificates).

Upgrade this course


Learners who upgrade are 5x as likely to complete the course!*

  • Access to this course
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible



Billed at $189.99 for a year

Endless possibilities!

  • Access to this course
  • Access to ALL eligible short courses with additional benefits, for a year
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Basic access


Try before you buy

  • Limited access to course content for 8 weeks

Find out more about certificates, Upgrades or Unlimited.

Sale price available until 6 December 2021 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

Join this course for free with basic access. Access to this course only limited to 8 weeks. Excludes certificates.

*FutureLearn considers a short course complete when a learner has engaged with 90% of the content. For enrolments to short courses with the possibility of Upgrade in the year of 2020, enrolments with an Upgrade are completed 5.31 times as often as enrolments with basic access

*FutureLearn considers a short course complete when a learner has engaged with 90% of the content. For enrolments to short courses with the possibility of Upgrade in the year of 2020, enrolments with an Upgrade are completed 5.31 times as often as enrolments with basic access

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps, but you can complete them as quickly or slowly as you like
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn

Learner reviews

Learner reviews cannot be loaded due to your cookie settings. Please and refresh the page to view this content.

Do you know someone who'd love this course? Tell them about it...

You can use the hashtag #FLtdr to talk about this course on social media.