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Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to present a new master’s programme for promoting energy access and energy efficiency in Southern Africa.

Design/methodology/approach

A transdisciplinary approach called “participatory integrated assessment of energy systems” (PARTICIPIA) was used for the development of the curriculum. This approach is based on the two emerging fields of “multi-scale integrated assessment” and “science for governance”, which bring innovative concepts and methods.

Findings

The application of the PARTICIPIA methodology to three case studies reveals that the proposed transdisciplinary approach could support energy and development policies in the region. The implementation of the PARTICIPIA curriculum in three higher education institutions reveals its ability to respond to the needs of specific contexts and its connection with existing higher education programmes.

Practical implications

Considering energy issues from a transdisciplinary approach in higher education is absolutely critical because such a holistic view cannot be achieved through engineering curricula. Deliberate and greater efforts should be made to integrate methods from “multi-scale integrated assessment” and “science for governance” in higher education curricula to train a new breed of modern-day energy planners in charge of coming up with solutions that are shared by all relevant stakeholders.

Originality/value

This paper presents an innovative higher education curriculum in terms of the attention given to energy access and energy efficiency that affect the southern Africa region and the nature of the methodology adopted to face these issues.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 19 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 7 March 2016

John van Breda, Josephine Musango and Alan Brent

This paper aims to improve the understanding of individual transdisciplinary PhD research in a developing country context, focusing on three individual PhD case studies in South…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to improve the understanding of individual transdisciplinary PhD research in a developing country context, focusing on three individual PhD case studies in South Africa.

Design/methodology/approach

Multiple-case method was used, and three completed transdisciplinary PhD research efforts undertaken at the Stellenbosch University were selected. They were coordinated through the TsamaHub, an inter-faculty platform at the University which organises educational modules for transdisciplinary research. Using actual research experiences and reflections of the three individual PhDs, the paper evaluates their work in terms of ontological, epistemological, methodological and methodical/methods aspects.

Findings

The central challenge to individual PhD researchers is engagement with non-academic actors to enable joint problem formulation, analysis and transformation. To overcome this, the paper suggests that developing individual epistemic relationships to build “transdisciplinary epistemic communities” should be considered for inclusion as an intentional aspect of transdisciplinary research design.

Research limitations/implications

“Transdisciplinary epistemic communities” is still a concept in its infancy and needs more work before it may be theoretically and practically useful.

Practical implications

Continuously guiding the individual transdisciplinary research process in a reflexive, recursive, transparent and equal manner is absolutely critical because transdisciplinary research cannot be done successfully if dominated by overly methods-driven approaches.

Originality/value

The discourse around transdisciplinary methodology has major implications for the design of individual PhD research. The paper provides recommendations to enhance the theory and practice of individual transdisciplinary PhD research.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 17 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

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