ARUA-CD-sponsored PhD students have completed training on the application of transdisciplinary research in environment, biodiversity, livelihood, and climate change challenges at Schorfheide-Chorin Biosphere Reserve in Germany.
Between December 2022 and March 2023, ARUA-CD sponsored Sylvester Yiadom Agyei-Boachie (University of Ghana) and Purity Rima Mbaabu (University of Nairobi) to participate in the 2023 Transdisciplinary International Learning Laboratory (TILL). TILL is a Transdisciplinary Education Collaboration for Transformations in Sustainability’s project designed to build international students’ skills in applying transdisciplinary approaches to address complex sustainability challenges.
The first learning phase was carried out through online sessions in December 2022 and focused on the theoretical aspects of transdisciplinary research. During the second phase (onsite learning at the Schorfheide-Chorin Biosphere Reserve), the students participated in webinars, in-person lectures, and field excursions about transdisciplinary research related to forest ecosystem management.
The students were tasked with applying the knowledge they had gained to jointly conduct research to develop strategies that foster sustainable management of the biosphere reserve. They ethically conducted a contextual analysis, framed research questions, designed data collection tools, and collected data from relevant stakeholders. They also conducted forest assessments (trees, dead wood, microhabitat, and natural rejuvenation) and analysed the data.
Students conducting forest assessments: From left, Elena Kortmann (Leuphana University), Sylvester Yiadom Agyei-Boachie (University of Ghana), Lucas Ignacio Muñoz Petersen (Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development), Josie Ward (University of Saskatchewan), Purity Rima Mbaabu (University of Nairobi)
The students then interpreted the findings, developed an academic report and disseminated the findings through posters and PowerPoint presentations to the management of TRANSECTS, the Schorfheide-Chorin Biosphere Reserve, and the Eberswald University for Sustainable Development management, foresters, forest owners, and students.
From left Purity Rima Mbaabu (explaining research findings to participants using poster presentation), and Sylvester Yiadom Agyei-Boachie (explaining the methods and materials used to conduct the research)
ARUA-CD student accomplishments
We have learned to plan and conduct transdisciplinary research, forest assessments, communicate, and work with cross-disciplinary teams. We developed recommendations to sustainably enhance stakeholder collaboration in the biosphere reserve to promote nature conservation and socio-economic development.
Moreover, we designed recommendations to improve forest management and increase forests’ resilience to climate change. Additionally, we improved our presentation, report-writing, communication, networking, and interpersonal skills. The students were also presented with certificates of participation and honour.
“I have learned that socio-ecological systems are complex and intertwined, owing to their interlinked social, ecological, and natural components. Therefore, understanding, studying, and finding solutions to challenges in these systems require a systems-thinking approach and institutional and cross-disciplinary collaboration. I am now well equipped and confident about transdisciplinary research and its applications in enhancing ecosystem sustainability in the face of climate change.” says Purity Rima Mbaabu
”I had the opportunity to interact with experts and scholars on transdisciplinary research and forest management. TILL has exposed me to practical ways of solving human-nature sustainability issues. I have gained skills to conduct transdisciplinary research and develop ways to promote collaboration in nature conservation, enhance biodiversity, and mitigate climate change while safeguarding local livelihoods.” says Sylvester Yiadom Agyei-Boachie.
From left Purity Rima Mbaabu (with her certificate), and Sylvester Yiadom Agyei-Boachie (receiving his certificate)
Article by: Sylvester Yiadom Agyei-Boachie and Purity Rima Mbaabu