BIGS-DR coordination team
Dr. Günther Manske
Ms. Maike Retat-Amin


Interdisciplinary courses (ID courses)

The interdisciplinary courses (ID courses) are the first courses that the new BIGS-DR students attend in the beginning of their first year. The course is open to doctoral students from outside of BIGS-DR. For ZEF students, the ID courses are followed by disciplinary course work in the respective departments.

In four weeks of teaching and two weeks of term paper writing in small interdisciplinary and international teams, the ID courses aim to introduce the participants to the phenomenon of interdisciplinary development research. The course gives an overview of the debates on interdisciplinarity, with a focus on ZEF's core research areas.

The courses aim to facilitate "boundary crossing", which is the defining characteristic of interdisciplinary research. The crossing of disciplinary boundaries is a complex process involving theoretical, methodological and institutional boundaries, apart from cultural, political, geographical, research-policy and society boundaries. Students will be encouraged to debate a number of these issues with experts in these fields.

The current ID course plan is avaliable for download:


The so-called "knowledge related learning objectives" refer to acquiring knowledge on the state of the art of the discussion on and approaches to interdisciplinary research relevant to the field that ZEF is working on. This involves learning about interdisciplinarity as a notion in general, and specifically about the different dimensions of interdisciplinary research on complex development problems.

The ID courses seek to inculcate and strengthen in participants two attitudinal characteristics: An open and inquisitive attitude towards other disciplines, fields of study and scientific cultures; and a critical and reflective attitude towards the normative dimensions of science and of development. These two attitudinal characteristics will help participants to develop a well-considered personal positioning in the field of interdisciplinary development research.

Structure and examination

Course structure

The ID course consists of different thematic blocks:

  • Block 1: development & history of economics
  • Block 2: interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinary decision modeling
  • Block 3: ZEF research areas (applied land-use, climate change, food security, governance, poverty, inequality, ecology)
  • Block 4: research at ZEF with experiences from advanced doctoral students
  • Block 5: seminars on English writing in academia and termpaper writing
  • Block 6: presentation skills ("prospects and challenges of development in my country")


Participants have to pass a written exam at the end of the course and write a joint term paper with an interdiscplinary team to be submitted two weeks after the course ends.

Lecturers and management

 Lecturers 2019  

  •            Dr. Lisa Biber-Freudenberger

 •             Prof.  Dr. Christian Borgemeister

 •             Prof. Dr. Jan Börner

 •             Dr. Manfred Denich

 •             Dr. Timo Falkenberg

 •             Dr. Zaneta Kubick

 •             Dr. John Lamers

 •             Dr. Guido Lüchters

 •             Dr. Günther Manske

 •             Dr. Jan Henning Sommer

 •             Dr. Till Stellmacher

 •             Dr. Ing. Bernhard Tischbein

 •             Prof. Dr. Joachim von Braun

 •             Dr. Cory Whitney


Guest lecturers

  •             Dr. Daniel Callo-Concha (University of Landau)

 •             Prof.  Dr. Carsten Burhop (University of Bonn)

 •             Dr. Valerie Graw (University of Bonn)

 •             Dr. Hiroe Ishihara (University of Tokyo)

 •             Dr. Jose Jara, Empresa Pública Estratégica Corporación Eléctrica del Ecuador (CELEC EP), Ecuador

 •             Kai Neumann (consultant-CONSIDEO)

 •             Prof. Dr. Jakob Rhyner (University of Bonn)

 •             Dr. Conrad Schetter (Bonn International Center for Conversion- BICC)

 •             Dr. Detlef Virchow (Plan International)

 •             Dr. Cory Whitney (University of Bonn)


Course management team 2019

  •            Dr. Guenther Manske (course leader)

 •             Dr. Wolfram Laube (ZEFa)

 •             Dr. Zaneta Kubick (ZEFb)

 •             Dr. Lisa Biber-Freudenberger (ZEFc)