See Focus areas

Transdisciplinary Approach

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One of the key components of DesignLab's characteristic approach is our belief in the power of working in a transdisciplinary way. This shapes how we collaborate, how we do research, how we design education and how we attain our results. Working in teams where a diversity of disciplines and backgrounds can merge makes it possible to combine existing knowledge and experience in order to generate new knowledge.

Mascha van der Voort, professor of Human Centred Design and scientific co-director at DesignLab
“Transdisciplinary work is about using a fresh perspective and creativity. By generating new knowledge out of the merging of disciplines and experiences, we can address the challenges of society today”

Stretching the reach of science

Transdisciplinarity is seen as the apotheosis of cooperation, transcending multidisciplinarity - a term many might be familiar with. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development(2020) transdisciplinary research can even address complex issues that were, until now,beyond the reach of science. “In drawing on the breadth of science and non-scientific knowledge domains, such as local and traditional knowledge, and cultural norms and values, it aims to supplement and transform scientific insights for the good of society."

Transdisciplinarity at DesignLab

As a forward looking centre of education and research, embracing both technical and social sciences,the University of Twente provides the perfect environment to apply transdisciplinary methods. And DesignLab serves as the propellor for this, with transdisciplinary working as one of our three focus areas. We do this through both our research and education:

research Projects

Key to transdisciplinary research is to involve the full spectrum of stakeholders impacted by the societal challenge. DesignLab is partner and host to many cross-faculty research projects, with a wide variety of partners. A selection:



An important initiative for promoting this approach is the Transdisciplinary Master-Insert 'Shaping responsible futures': a six month-programme that ultimately prepares UT master students to become the new generation of changemakers. Watch the video below to get an impression or visit the website.

Challenge-based education

Learning to place the needs and wishes from society first, is an important part of the transdisciplinary approach. Challenge-based education aims at just that. DesignLab is developing learning and education spaces that meet the demand for challenge-based education.


Lecture | Transdisciplinary working and stakeholder involvement

In this lecture, full professor Human Centred Design Mascha van der Voort talks about what distinguishes transdisciplinary working from multi- or cross-disciplinary working. Transdisciplinary research projects currently hosted by DesignLab will be highlighted, as well as the Transdisciplinary Master-Insert 'Shaping Responsible Futures', a unique educational programme. 

Overview of our focus areas

Working in a transdisciplinary way is intertwined with the other two focus areas of DesignLab: Citizen Science and Responsible Design.