Building capacity to address the 21st-century transition to sustainability, both globally and locally, is an urgent and complex task, which requires novel partnerships and the integration of expertise from a variety of perspectives. The PhD program in Transdisciplinary Sustainability (TRSU) aims to make a strong contribution to understanding and addressing complex ecological-social-economic-political issues by leveraging the unique strengths of Grenfell Campus and its School of Science and the Environment.

This program trains students to understand and conduct research on sustainability issues through a transdisciplinary approach (i.e. drawing on a broad combination of disciplines and collaborating with external partners). Core TRSU courses focus on holistic conceptualizations of sustainability, complex systems, sustainability science, disciplinary reflection, transdisciplinary research methods, team science, and knowledge co-production with stakeholders. Students are able to pursue their individual interests in sustainability-related issues through a structured but flexible program.


What is Transdisciplinarity?

There are many definitions of transdisciplinarity, but the one used by this program has two main components:

  • broad interdisciplinarity: integration of disciplines that are conceptually “distant” from one another and are from different scholarly domains – for example, combining biology (natural sciences) with history (humanities) or combining public policy (social sciences) with theatre (fine arts)
  • co-production: genuine and collaborative involvement of external stakeholders (e.g. from community groups, industries, government agencies, or non-government organizations) as members of the research team

So, any research approach that integrates at least two conceptually distant disciplines and partners genuinely with at least one external partner organization may be considered transdisciplinary.



The TRSU program prepares its graduates for careers as: consultants, researchers, professors, sustainability managers, research scientists, technicians, community planning officers, policy analysts, and more. Due to the transdisciplinary nature of the program, graduates will also possess the broad capacity and familiarity to move flexibly between careers in research institutions, industry, government, and non-government organizations. Of course, the specifics depend on each student’s individual program of study.


Graduate Officer

Please feel free to contact the TRSU Graduate Officer with any questions about the program. The current Graduate Officer is WHO of the Environmental Policy Institute.

Further Information:

Further details are also available at the School of Graduate Studies website and in the University Calendar Regulations.