UTFacultiesBMSDept TPSKiTeSEventsPhD course Transformative Research for Sustainability Challenges

PhD course Transformative Research for Sustainability Challenges April 22 - May 3, 2024, University of Twente


“Transformative Research for Sustainability Challenges” provides PhD candidates with exciting concepts and methods to enhance the potential of their research to beneficially contribute to society and the environment. Participants are guided through a process designed to surface and examine fundamental assumptions that underpin their research approaches to inspire future trajectories both within and beyond their PhD. This course is taught by a range of scholars in Utrecht University (UU), University of Twente (UT), Wageningen University & Research (WUR), Technical University of Eindhoven (TUE) and Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC), who will guide students through critical concepts, methodological innovations, and tricky dilemmas that have challenged and enabled their own work. The course content focuses on four main aspects of transformative research identified in the 71 Visions Report. This course received an Education Innovation Award in 2021 and is supported by 4TU, WIMEK, EWUU Alliance, Urban Futures Studio, Utrecht University and Centre for Unusual Collaborations (CUCo).

Transformative Research PhD Course

The first Transformative Research PhD Course received the WUR Education Innovation Award 2022

Learning goals

  • Explore different approaches to transformative research in case studies that aim to bring about just and sustainable futures
  • Develop skills to evaluate how key aspects of research design, implementation, analysis and communication affect the contribution of research to addressing sustainability challenges
  • Build knowledge, confidence and ability to apply transformative processes /methods in your own present and future research and navigate emerging challenges to maximize its beneficial impacts
  • Connect with a growing network of diverse researchers to further your inspiration and capability to undertake transformative research in collaboration with others


The introduction to the course is split across two half-days to explore: what is “transformative research", and what roles does it entail? This will be followed by four full-day trainings and one final day of harvesting collective insights. The course involves the following main components:

  • Lectures and dynamic exercises that explore transformative concepts and methods, delivered by a broad range of scholars undertaking transformative approaches in their research
  • In-depth engagement with novel case studies that involve diverse societal actors to transform possible futures
  • Crafting of your own personal narrative of how your research can contribute to just and sustainable futures
  • Participation in peer-to-peer learning sessions and walks
  • Home study (readings, videos, writing) in between sessions
  • Informal social interactions with peers and teaching team


Content coordination: Josie Chambers (j.m.chambers@uu.nl)


  • Josephine Chambers (UU)
  • Esther Turnhout (UT)
  • Maria Tengö (SRC)
  • Jeanne Nel (WUR)
  • Corelia Baibarac-Duignan (UT)
  • Jonas Colen Ladeia Torrens (TUE)
  • Ruth Brennan (TCD)
  • Esha Shah (WUR)
  • Jessica Duncan (WUR)
  • Birgit Boogaard (WUR)
  • Jillian Student (WUR)


Credits: 3 ECTS

Course duration and dates: 2 weeks, 22 April – 3 May 2024

Location: University of Twente, Enschede, the Netherlands

Language: English

Self study: 20 hours

Selection and registration

Registrations are due before 27 October 2023.

Note that we are aiming for a diverse group of PhD candidates and have a maximum of 30 participants; hence, places for the course will be decided based on the motivation of the PhD candidate when registering, and a good balance in disciplinary backgrounds. We will select participants based on 1) the diversity of interested PhD candidates, such as in terms of scientific background, research focus, and institute and 2) on the answers to the following questions in the registration form: 

1.       Why do you want to take this specific course? And why now? (max 250 words)
2.       What does 'transformative research' mean to you? (max 250 words)

We will contact you on the outcome of the selection procedure after the 1st week of November 2023. Please note that after being selected for the course, your registration becomes final, which means that payment of the course fee via our online payment tool will be required and the cancellation policy will apply.

Fees are due within four weeks after you have been informed about being selected.


The course fee is 350 euros.

PhD candidates registered from Stockholm Resilience Center, Utrecht University, University of Twente, Eindhoven University of Technology, Delft University of Technology, and Wageningen University are eligible for a reduced course fee of 300 euros.

The fee includes all course activities, coffee, tea and lunch for all campus days of the course (8 in total), one opening drinks reception, and 1 course dinner.

The course fee does not include travel, accommodation and all other meals. We will share details on affordable accommodation. 


We are pleased to offer three partial scholarships to support the participation of PhD candidates from institutions based in the Global South. These scholarships will cover accommodation and the course fee. Travel and meals are not covered by the scholarship. If you want to apply for this scholarship, you can indicate this on the registration form. You will be informed after the first week of November 2023 if you are selected for this scholarship.

Cancellation policy

Up to 12 weeks prior to the start of the course, cancellation is free of charge.
Up to 6 weeks prior to the start of the course, 50% of the fee will be reimbursed.
After this date you will be charged the full registration fee unless:

  • You can find someone to replace you in the course and supply the course coordinator with the name and contact information of your replacement. In this case you will only be charged a € 50,- cancellation fee.
  • You have a valid reason to cancel (illness or death in the family 1st or 2nd degree; Corona travel restrictions). In this case, 50% of the fee will be reimbursed when your supervisor sends an email indicating the reason for cancellation.

For practical questions contact secretariat KITES

Registration closed