Course theme

Type of course


Making an Impact! Increasing the relevance of research through science-society interaction

  • 07 - 08 February 2024
  • Wageningen University
  • Communication & Societal Impact
  • 1.0 ECTS

Researchers experience a pressing demand from society to create solutions for a range of urgent problems. In the domain of life sciences such demands relate to climate change, food security, healthy diets, sustainable agriculture, ecological resilience and nature conservation. These demands come forward most concretely in requirements for research funding to stipulate the societal relevance of your proposed study. Some funding schemes demand precise ‘impact pathways’ that spell out how each of the envisioned research results lead to specific benefits for society. Overall, research is expected to develop innovations that contribute to sustainability as well as economic growth. For PhD candidates such expectations can provide motivation to incorporate making an impact into their PhD research. But how to do this? This course is focused on making a plan of action. You will discover how fundamental research can be combined with societal impact in various ways without a single-best option. You will have the opportunity to reflect on the impact of your own work, learn from other PhD candidates and other researchers working at the interface of research, policy and society.

Learning goals

After this course you can:

  • understand the role of research and knowledge in society;
  • recognize common hindrances and dilemmas for making an impact;
  • identify most relevant stakeholders to your project, and their needs;
  • understand different methods to engage with stakeholders;
  • design a plan of action for increasing the societal relevance of your research.


The main goal of the course is to develop a plan of action. In order to do so effectively, you will learn about perspectives on and activities for science-society interaction. The course builds on a transdisciplinary understanding of making impact, and how this relates to general goals. The course introduces PhD-candidates to the philosophy and practice of integrative knowledge development. The course will thus enable participants to understand the rationale of collaboration with practitioners and policymakers. In an interactive learning programme, you will be actively engaged during the two course days, included the evening of the first day. In preparation to the course, you will be asked to do a small assignment in the weeks before the course. Without ignoring common media tools for reaching an audience, the main focus in this course is on activities to collaborate with professional groups, citizens and other stakeholders. In a panel discussion, experienced researchers will provide examples of their own experiences, and describe how the quality of the research ultimately benefited from impact activities as well. You will explore your personal wishes and develop ideas on how to integrate impact activities in your research. Via intensive exchange with the other course members, you will elaborate a good plan for your own PhD-project, ready to be presented to your supervisors after the course. At the end of the course, you will have a better view on next steps you need to take. This can be, for example, a better view on follow-up courses to select from the WGS programme (communication courses; entrepeneurships etc); what techniques you need to master, or which stakeholders you should contact first.

Former occurrences of this course

13-14 Febr 2023   |   11-12 Febr 2021   |   5-6 Febr 2019   |   25-26 May 2016