Department Environmental Social Sciences

Transdisciplinary Integration for Sustainable Urban Water Management

Despite several decades of research on alternative approaches to sustainable urban water management, an innovation deficit continues to prevail in urban water management. Different disciplines and fields are crucial to exploring such alternatives from a variety of perspectives from both science and practice. However, it is even more decisive to integrate these different perspectives to effectively understand, develop, and implement potential solutions, and thereby positively influence change in sustainable directions. Such integration is best addressed by transdisciplinary research approaches.

Main focus areas

Exploring transdisciplinary integration

Integration - connoting a process of creating a coherent and comprehensive whole of different perspectives being brought together - is widely regarded as both the key feature and the core challenge of transdisciplinary research. Often, integration is considered critical to the success (or failure) of transdisciplinary research projects or programs. Three overriding questions thus arise: What means integration in transdisciplinary research projects or programs? What strategies, practices and tools support integration? How can we induce learning processes about transdisciplinary integration in projects or programs and beyond?

Leading transdisciplinary integration

Leadership in transdisciplinary research endeavours is neither sufficiently discussed in literature nor adequately reflected on in practice. Two questions thus emerge: What challenges does transdisciplinary integration pose for project or program leaders as well as for researchers and practitioners involved in trandisciplinary research endeavours ? What leadership models and skills support transdisciplinary integration?


Dr. Sabine HoffmannGroup Leader, Cluster: ITDTel. +41 58 765 6818Send Mail

Key publications

Maag, S.; Alexander, T. J.; Kase, R.; Hoffmann, S. (2018) Indicators for measuring the contributions of individual knowledge brokers, Environmental Science and Policy, 89, 1-9, doi:10.1016/j.envsci.2018.06.002, Institutional Repository
Hoffmann, S.; Pohl, C.; Hering, J. G. (2017) Methods and procedures of transdisciplinary knowledge integration: empirical insights from four thematic synthesis processes, Ecology and Society, 22(1), (17pp.), doi:10.5751/ES-08955-220127, Institutional Repository
Hoffmann, S.; Pohl, C.; Hering, J. G. (2017) Exploring transdisciplinary integration within a large research program: empirical lessons from four thematic synthesis processes, Research Policy, 46(3), 678-692, doi:10.1016/j.respol.2017.01.004, Institutional Repository
Hoffmann, S. (2016) Transdisciplinary knowledge integration within large research programs, GAIA: Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society, 25(3), 201-203, doi:10.14512/gaia.25.3.14, Institutional Repository
Larsen, T. A.; Hoffmann, S.; Lüthi, C.; Truffer, B.; Maurer, M. (2016) Emerging solutions to the water challenges of an urbanizing world, Science, 352(6288), 928-933, doi:10.1126/science.aad8641, Institutional Repository


An inter- and transdisciplinary strategic research program that strives to develop novel non-gridconnected water and sani- tation systems that can function as comparable alternatives to network-based systems.
The National Research Programme "Sustainable Water Management" (NRP 61) developed scientific foundations and methods for sustainable management of Switzerland's water resources.
The INTEGRATE project aims at strengthening inter- and transdisciplinary integration within and across the strategic research program Wings.