CPT-31006 Integral Approaches in Communication, Health and Life Sciences


Studiepunten 6.00

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

BA or BSc in Social Science.


Current societal challenges include environmental degradation, climate change, antimicrobial resistance and ageing societies. These challenges are inherently complex and many different scientific and professional disciplines are trying to understand and solve them from their own perspective. These different perspectives can lead to heated debates about “the right way” to solve things. How can we move forward with research and action on these issues, while taking into account different disciplines and stakeholder perspectives, and political dynamics?
Working on trans-disciplinary societal issues is core to the MSc program Communication, Health and Life Sciences. Students therefore need to learn about existing paradigms and strategies for change that have significance for these type of issues. By using Integral Theory to analyse complex societal issues, they learn about different starting points and how to take into account the perspectives of different stakeholders and disciplines. Students will also apply Integral Theory to analyse and assess existing interventions. They will reflect upon communication and political dynamics, social consequences and ethics to craft effective and fair solutions. Students will also critically assess the integrated research approach of other student groups.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- explain the paradigm shift from mono-, via inter- to trans-disciplinary thinking applied to the field of Communication, Health and Life Sciences;
- explain different types and modes of strategies for change and their significance to complex societal issues;
- apply Integral Theory to analyse a complex societal issue from different disciplinary and stakeholder perspectives;
- assess the scientific credibility, societal legitimacy and salience of integrated research for a complex societal issues;
- critically evaluate the suitability of Integral Theory, and underlying/embedded theories, in understanding complex problems and evaluating interventions for change;
- reflect upon their own knowledge, skills and attitude in relation to the concepts, theories and paradigms covered in this course.


The course is based on problem-based learning. Weekly lectures give the main research paradigms, integral theory, concepts and principles of integrated research. These lectures accompany tutorials in which student groups apply the knowledge to undertake an integrated research on a societal topic of their interest. This involves the identification and integration of insights from different disciplines and stakeholders, based on a review of scientific literature and analysis of complementary sources (e.g. focus groups and media). Through reflexivity on the norms and values that underlie the analysis and recommendation, and the plausible socio-political consequences, they make a well-justified choice for a certain societal goals and pathway for change. Apart from this group work in which they apply integrated research knowledge and skills, students also act as peer reviewer and learn to critically assess the integrated research approach of their fellow students.


This course is assessed by a written exam (25%), a group assignment (50%) and an individual peer review (25%). Passing this individual reflection is one of the conditions for successful completion of the group assignment.
All grades should be at least a “pass” or 5.5 to complete the course.


A reading list of articles will be made available through Learning Environment@WUR.