In higher education best practice, an interdisciplinary education is provided to students in order to 1) engage in large epistemological questions; 2) make connections and identify relationships among different subjects, topics, disciplines, perspectives, and/or knowledge strands; 3) apply knowledge from more than one discipline in order to examine a theme, issue, topic, experience, and/or problem; and 4) identify and establish guiding questions in aid of interdisciplinary metacognition.
Engaging in an interdisciplinary education is especially important as it enables students to look at key epistemological and ontological questions; in particular, asking questions such as what is scientific knowledge itself and how does it relate to notions of being? This results in students thoroughly investigating questions of the validity of knowledge; how knowledge is constructed, by whom and for what purposes; what are the different instantiations of knowledge regimes and discourses; when do paradigm shifts become a critical necessity; what kinds of ontological struggles result in a rethinking or decolonization of knowledge; and what constitutes as a discipline – as well as when does it becomes efficacious to engage in interdisciplinary, cross-disciplinary, multi-disciplinary, trans-disciplinary, and/or post-disciplinary knowledge production processes.
The courses provided by ZEF lecturers are integrated into the running programs of IDEA at the master and doctoral level. They combine inter and transdisciplinary perspectives while focusing on sociological, anthropological and socio-economic perspectives. The last courses offered by the ZEF lecturers for the last group of doctoral beneficiaries of the DSSP were:
- Introduction including interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research in development studies (crossing boundaries), assemblages approaches and term paper assignment (Eva Youkhana)
- Sustainable Development and alternative approaches to development (Eva Youkhana and Emilia Schmidt)
- Local development planning including local environmental conflicts in a transregional perspective (Wolfram Laube and Michael Ayamga)
- Ecological and Environmental Economics including Cost-Benefit Analysis, Environmental Accounting, Agricultural trade and the environment, Degrowth /Post-growth economy (Jochen Dürr)