Our university can play a crucial role in tackling complex and persistent societal challenges, such as climate change, pandemics or rising inequality. However, this requires new ways of doing and delivering research and education. The Design Impact Transition (DIT) platform has the mission to empower exactly these radically new ways of doing research, education and engagement at EUR. Professor Derk Loorbach, academic lead of the platform, explains what it is all about.
The DIT platform is a new initiative from Erasmus University Rotterdam, implemented as part of the Strategy 2024 to increase EUR’s positive societal impact. On November 25th, the platform was officially launched with an online event hosted from the Erasmus Enterprise building, with guest speakers including Prof. Annelien Bredenoord and Prof. Ed Brinksma on behalf of the Executive Board. The platform aims to bring together researchers, teachers, students and staff that want to work on complex societal challenges in a new way: more transformative and transdisciplinary.
What does that mean exactly, working in a transformative and transdisciplinary way?
Prof. Derk Loorbach: “Working in a transformative and transdisciplinary way means that we work across disciplines, together with different stakeholders on tackling complex societal challenges. Moreover, we question and challenge existing dogmas that are often present in disciplines, such as the focus on increasing economic growth. In doing so we want to stimulate a debate and critical reflection on what we, as a university, can contribute to solving these complex challenges. We also wrote down our way of working and vision in a Narrative for Change, which we hope will also be a fruitful starting point for some discussion within our university.”
How will DIT work towards this goal?
“First and foremost, the platform aims to attract and connect different people across campus who are excited by DIT’s mission and want to collaborate with us. We also want to provide support to those people, by offering them a physical and online space where they can find support for working on groundbreaking projects. Lastly, we also develop and share theories, approaches and methods on transdisciplinary academic work ourselves. Some of our affiliated academics have for example already published a working paper on transformative research.”
Can you name some activities that you have planned already?
“Sure! We have many activities planned for the next few years, such as a new MA programme on Societal Transitions, a university wide extracurricular sustainability course, an external PhD programme, a summer school for design and transition, international academic workshops and impact projects for students.”
You said that the platform wants to connect people across campus. Could you tell a bit more about that?
“Our aim is really to build a community at the university of collaboratively minded people who want to work on topics around transdisciplinarity, transformative research and education and design methods. We call on everyone who is interested in the topic and who wants to make a change at our university to get involved with DIT – by attending our upcoming events or getting in touch with us!”