From 1-4 May 2018, academia and researchers involved in the KNOTS program gathered at the Political Science Department at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand for a special Train-the-Trainer (TTT) workshop aimed at helping build and teach a transdisciplinary curriculum. After a successful summer school held in northern Vietnam in 2017, this workshop continued the work of the Erasmus+ sponsored initiative, that serves as a response to the increasingly evolving topics of social inequality, climate change and migration, with the aim to bridge the higher education sector and non-academic actors. From Germany to Vietnam, this international team has been meeting across the globe in a highly collaborative and international effort to build and grown the transdisciplinary program known as KNOTS, with the hopes that as this method and mindset continues to spread, it will allow for greater engagement of not only multiple stakeholders, but greater connection to local communities, who have often in the past been left out of the research taking place in their own spaces.
Using the Political Science faculty's smart classroom, which came enabled with interactive and connectable LED screens, group-work friendly mobile tables/chairs, whiteboard desks and smart whiteboards, the four days of sessions were designed to not just upskill the program's academics to go out and teach transdisciplinary research methods, but to be interactive and iterative in a way that will continue to shape the content so it is custom and bespoke for the participant's particular situation, country or learning cohort. As with most training programs, the initial sessions covered the history and background of transdisciplinary methods, how to rethink our current scientific/research paradigms and then jumped into how to actually begin creating and teaching such a program.
As the TTT progressed throughout the week, close attention was paid to getting feedback from trainees, as this project is still in its infancy and like all good research projects and collaborative efforts, thrives on constructive criticism and alterations to the original plan. With the foundation of transdisciplinary methods laid out by Dr. Carl Middleton (Chulalongkorn Univ.) and Dr. Petra Dannecker (Univ. of Vienna), a deeper dive into social inequality, migration and environmental issues was presented, and how they can/should be looked at through a transdisciplinary lens. Like the foundational sessions, importance on trainee input and feedback was given in order to best frame the conversations for the situations currently being experienced here in Southeast Asia.