Making Impact: Increasing the relevance of research through science-society interaction (in person)

Course schedule

Dates Start time End time Location Coordinator    
13 and 14 February 2023 09:00 17:30 Wageningen Campus Peter Vermeulen Registration ended at 30/01/2023

Course description


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. 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[1]. 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.


[1] PhD candidates interested in science communication through mass media are referred to the PhD course “Communication with the Media and the General Public”.

General Information

Target Group: PhD candidates who are interested in exploring the possibilities to enhance the societal relevance of their research. We welcome students from all disciplines, and in all phases of their study.
Group size: Max. 20  participants
Course duration: 2 days 
Language: English
Credit points: 1 ECTS
Self-study hours: small assignment finished before start of the course, approx. 4 hours
Name lecturer:


Dr. Harro Maat, Prof. Cees Leeuwis, Prof. Phil MacNaghten

Panel discussion with prominent, advanced and early-career WUR scientists

Venue: Wageningen Campus; rooms t.b.a.


In an interactive learning programme with other PhD-candidates, you will be actively engaged during the two full days, first evening included.

Activities of the course include:

  • A small preparatory assignment
  • Lectures by the teachers
  • Experimenting with practical techniques in small groups
  • Exploration of desires and ideas on integration of transdisciplinarity in personal PhD plan
  • Presentation of posters and feedback by the other participants


1) Reduced fee:
  • PhD candidates of Wageningen University with an approved Training and Supervision Plan (TSP) who are registered at one of the WU graduate schools (EPS, PE&RC, VLAG, WASS, WIAS, WIMEK/SENSE)
  • Postdocs of Wageningen University who are registered at one of the WU graduate schools
€ 200,-
2) University fee: All other PhD candidates / Wageningen University post-docs and staff € 400,-
3) External: All other participants € 800,-

Fee includes study and training material, accommodation, and lunch.


Registration deadline (if not full): 31th January 2022.

Cancellation condition

You may cancel free of charge up to 1 month before the start of the course. After this date you will be charged the University fee. Unless:

  • You can find someone to replace you in the course and supply the course coordinator with the name and contact information of your replacement. In this case you will only be charged a € 50,- cancellation fee.
  • You (PhDs and postdocs of Wageningen University) have a valid reason to cancel (illness or death in the family 1st or 2nd degree).
    In this case you will be charged the reduced fee and your supervisor/PI must send a mail indicating the reason for cancellation.


For more information please contact