Meet Melanie Feeney: an advocate of interdisciplinary research
"The issues we are facing today are complex and have blurred disciplinary boundaries. I believe that bringing together teams of people who offer diverse perspectives, skill sets and networks are vital for understanding and responding to the world's increasingly complex problems such as climate change, world poverty and aging global populations."
Melanie Feeney is a new PhD candidate at Maastricht University's Graduate School of Business and Economics (GSBE). She received her position via the research theme Sustainable Development, one of GSBE'S seven research themes which bring together a broad range of academic expertise in a creative, forward-thinking environment to stimulate interdisciplinary work.
Feeney's research focuses on how organisations transition towards sustainability and the role of higher education and workplace learning in supporting these transitions. She will be working under the supervision of Wim Gijselaers at the Department of Educational Research and Development (ERD) and Pim Martens at the International Centre for Integrated Assessment and Sustainable Development (ICIS).
Feeney developed her interest in her research area over a number of years starting with the completion of a cross-disciplinary Master of Sustainability program at The University of Sydney, Australia. During this time, she also worked at the University of Sydney Business School, where she was teaching Organisational Sustainability and was involved in research and consultancy projects with sustainable businesses in remote and rural Australia and Southeast Asia.
Feeney then moved to Maastricht with her husband, who also works at the University, and started working as an Education Development Officer for University of Maastricht's Center of European Studies. This work experience sparked her interest in the role of education and learning for achieving sustainable development outcomes, and ultimately led her to her Ph.D. research.
When asked about her research, Feeney stated "The research that I will be exploring now is the perfect combination of my experiences over the past few years – bringing education and learning together with organisational transitions towards sustainability. It has been great to connect with people at GSBE who share the same interests in these research topics and I feel extremely lucky to be working with a cross-disciplinary supervisory team on a project that I’m so passionate about!"
Feeney is a strong advocate of taking an interdisciplinary approach to research. This way of thinking fits perfectly with the philosophy of GSBE's research themes which aim to stimulate interdisciplinary work that looks beyond boundaries to thematic commonalities and collaborative solutions. On this topic, Feeney claims "The issues we are facing today are complex and have blurred disciplinary boundaries. I believe that bringing together teams of people who offer diverse perspectives, skill sets and networks are vital for understanding and responding to the world's increasingly complex problems such as climate change, world poverty and aging global populations."