Annemarie Horn

On How to Change Learning and How to Learn Changing

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Athena Instituut,

Supervisors: Prof. dr. M.B.M. Zweekhorst and Prof. dr. ir. G.M. van Dijk


I completed my Bachelor and Master’s education in the field of neuroscience, and complemented these degrees with extra courses in psychology and science communication. After graduation from the research master Brain & Cognitive Sciences, I worked in business for several years. The stakeholder contact and research and innovation approach awoke renewed interest in transdisciplinary research. I decided to reconnect with my academic interest in science communication, science philosophy, and interdisciplinarity by pursuing a PhD.


Summary PhD Project

My PhD centers around rethinking higher education to train university graduates for addressing the complex challenges that we as a society face. It is increasingly acknowledged that the 21st century challenges require an inter- and transdisciplinary approach. As such, the notion that university education should also train competencies for inter- and transdisciplinary gains ground. There are, however, still a lot of questions about how to realize this ambition. For instance, how can educational activities facilitate and support true integration of knowledge among students with widely varying backgrounds? How can students be trained to do something that is even highly challenging to experienced professionals: engage in meaningful transdisciplinary dialogue? And how can niche innovations in single programs or departments be scaled up to create systemic change at the level of the entire university and beyond?


Under supervision of prof. dr. M.B.M. Zweekhorst and prof. dr. ir. G.M. van Dijk, I conduct research into these questions. My PhD-project comprises the design, implementation and evaluation of a new university-broad educational module for master students. In interdisciplinary student teams they collaborate with each other and with actors outside of the university. In an action research approach, we continuously evaluate, reflect on, and adapt the program to optimize the inter- and transdisciplinary integration, and to gain further understanding in facilitating the development of competencies that this fundamentally requires.