Webinar: Interdisciplinary research for sustainable development

31 Jan 2018
Date/Time: 12:00, 12:30, 31 January, 2018

How can research better inform development policy and practice?

This webinar gave those involved an opportunity to learn from ESPA's experience in funding, carrying out, and assessing interdisciplinary research for development impact.

This webinar was for:

  • Researchers
  • Development policymakers and practitioners
  • Funders and managers of research programmes

Achieving development impact

The grand challenges of sustainable development call for cross-cutting solutions and an underpinning with solid evidence. These challenges cannot be adequately investigated and addressed by single-discipline research: they require expertise across the biological, physical and social fields, and new thinking beyond traditional academic disciplines.

However, interdisciplinary research faces challenges of its own. It is often encouraged at the policy level but poorly rewarded in practice, and can be hard to fund, do, review and publish. Nevertheless, under the right conditions, the rewards can be considerable, particularly for achieving development impact.

New insights

The theory and practice of interdisciplinary research has evolved significantly during the lifespan of the ESPA programme. As the programme drew to a close, this webinar was an opportunity to reflect on the benefits and challenges of interdisciplinarity, and the conditions under which interdisciplinary research can maximise its impact on development policy and practice.

“ESPA investments are highly interdisciplinary, linking the social, natural and political sciences to address a series of focussed research questions and evidence challenges using system thinking, acknowledging the interconnectedness of social and ecological systems” – ESPA Impact Strategy.

About the presenter

Dr. Laura Meagher is an independent consultant specialising in the evaluation of complex processes of change related to research and higher education. Interdisciplinarity of research projects and/or funding schemes has been a primary focus of her evaluation work, which has included clients such as various UK Research Councils, UK government, Scottish Government and others. She regularly designs and conducts forward-looking interdisciplinary workshops and facilitates the development of interdisciplinary initiatives. Laura has published extensively on interdisciplinarity and co-authored the ESPA Learning Review in 2013.