The Doing Interdisciplinarity in Youth Research Day was a day full of encounters and sensory experiences


A chance to meet youth researchers from other disciplines, or other professionals working with children or young people. On 18 April, the 150 participants of the Doing Interdisciplinarity in Youth Research Day seized that opportunity. Theme: what do I have and what do we need for interdisciplinary collaboration?

Marlou Jenneskens

From designers and artists to scientists, and from a paediatric oncologist to someone working at a bank. The participants at the Doing Interdisciplinarity in Youth Research Day came from over 50 different organisations in 8 different countries. With that diversity, Dynamics of Youth, the day's organiser, has already achieved an important goal, says general director Jacobine Buizer. "On paper, everyone thinks interdisciplinary collaboration is a very good idea. But actually doing it, that's another story. Things only work out when there is mutual trust. It takes time to build that up, just as it takes time to understand each other's jargon, for example. We organised this day to find out together what we need, as individuals and as a team, for interdisciplinary collaboration. We did this not only in words, but also by feeling and experiencing. Stimulating the senses." In doing so, the focus shifted from “I” to “we” during the day, Jacobine explained. "In the morning, it was about 'what do I need for interdisciplinary work'. For example: how to stay in conversation with someone whose perspective conflicts with yours. In the afternoon, the focus was on 'we', discussing, for example, building sustainable partnerships.”

Who were the participants?

Designer; PhD candidate/researcher; professor; haematologist; paediatric oncologist; paediatrician; analyst manager; artist; toxicologist; data scientist; planner; financial consultant; communications officer; public health adviser.

Describe and draw the painting

Jacobine herself attended the workshop by Roos de Jonge, assistant professor of Community Engaged Learning, and Elsemarijn Leijenaar, doctor and PhD candidate in Narrative Medicine at UMC Utrecht. "That session was based on exercises from narrative medicine. The group was split into 'eyes' and 'ears'. The eyes described a painting. The ears had to listen and draw the painting. They were not allowed to ask anything. I saw it happen: the eyes group gave a description that was crystal clear, but the ears group had a completely different picture and drew something completely different. That was super cool to experience."

"It truly lived up to its interdisciplinary nature, with regards to speakers, presentation styles, topics, and workshop approaches."

Participant Marloes Kleinjan, Professor of Youth Mental Health Promotion and Head of the Youth programme at the Trimbos Institute:

"I was pleasantly surprised by the unconventional and diverse programme. It truly lived up to its interdisciplinary nature, with regards to speakers, presentation styles, topics, and workshop approaches. The fact that you weren't allowed to choose your own workshops made it particularly exciting for me. I gained valuable and insightful perspectives from both workshops that I otherwise would have missed. As an audience, we were truly challenged to see, explore, and experience interdisciplinary work in all its facets.”

Keynotes: examples

Iva Bicanic Doing Interdisciplinarity in Youth Research In addition to the workshops, four keynote speakers shared examples of interdisciplinary collaboration. These were not just success stories, since they were also about the difficulties involved. DoY project coordinator Femke Everaarts was involved in the organisation. "I found Iva Bicanic's keynote particularly impressive. She works as a clinical psychologist at UMC Utrecht and VU Amsterdam and managed to make it very easy for listeners to discuss a difficult subject, sexual violence."

Memory cards

Participants were spread across the workshops – registration was not necessary, as the day was all about meeting people, stepping out of your comfort zone and experiences. All participants were also given a card with a picture on it upon entry and told to use it to search for the person with the matching card, says Femke. "That was a lot of fun; for example, they would stand in the queue for the ladies' toilets looking at each other's cards and then discover, hey, we have a match." Those who had a match went for a photo together – a series will be published on LinkedIn soon!

"Recommended for anyone who wants to tap hidden strengths in their team or organisation. "

Participant Sander van Arum, orthopedagogue and systemic therapist at Civil Care Foundation:

Besides the energising chair of the day Catrin Finkenauer, the highlight of the day for me was the team-building workshop Curiosity and Courage: how to organize this together by Coen Jutte. Using movement, music, humour, self-disclosure and a dash of mindfulness as tools, he smoothly linked thinking and experiencing. He managed to create a safe space in which the talkers were invited to take a step back and the “listeners” a step forward. There was also an impact study attached to it, asking us to complete a questionnaire on the spot and again three weeks later! Recommended for anyone who wants to tap hidden strengths in their team or organisation. You are smarter together!

Key concepts

Francesca Ranalli, researcher at Dynamics of Youth, taught the workshop Participation: feeling, empathizing, and sharing. During this workshop, participants experimented with different techniques to express their emotions, satisfactions and frustrations. "Important concepts surfaced," Francesca says. "For example, that it is essential to create a 'safe space' so that people feel comfortable sharing emotions." Participants found out that, in interdisciplinary participation, it is important to not only express yourself in words and to be open to others. "For even in differences, unity can be found!"

Participant Maarten Crump, The Alignment House:

The Doing Interdisciplinarity in Youth Research event provided a great day for me. As a result of the sessions and presentations, I am now in contact with other attendees, with whom I am going into greater depth in my own work. For example, I am now in contact with Rocío García-Carrión about schools as learning communities. And how important it is to be embedded in the local community as a scientist if relevant academic insights are actually to be taken up locally. This approach could also be very valuable for our country!


Finally, Jacobine Buizer wants to set the record straight. "As the strategic theme Dynamics of Youth, our goal on this earth is to promote interdisciplinarity, but it is a misconception that you can only join us if you are interdisciplinary yourself. At DoY, if you are involved with youth, you always belong. As a next step, we can actually help introduce you to new people, because we have noticed in recent years how much time and energy goes into that. That's why days like this are so important."