Testing Analytical Frameworks in Transdisciplinary Research for Sustainable Development

This article discusses the concept and the practice of transdisciplinary research, including how it is conceived and implemented through the cooperation of different actors involved. With transdisciplinarity gaining recognition as an approach to addressing sustainable development challenges, the successful integration of various disciplines and actors in the process of knowledge generation becomes essential. Through the Cooperation and Development Center (CODEV), the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) has promoted transdisciplinary research by proposing a space where North–South partnerships integrating academic and non-academic actors enable the expansion of appropriate technologies and innovations adapted to local societal contexts. This study examines five collaborative research projects conducted at the EPFL. By using an analytical framework consisting of design principles for ideal transdisciplinary research, we conducted semi-structured interviews with academic and non-academic members of the research projects to assess the degree of transdisciplinarity. This framework proved to be a useful tool for exploring transdisciplinary dynamics and assessing the effectiveness of joint knowledge generation. We found that the transdisciplinary cooperation involving different actors is not a linear process, as it depends on the social context in which the project is carried out and on the internal and the external organizational structure established for its implementation. We provide recommendations on how transdisciplinarity could be expanded through institutional support and its results could be effectively transferred into science and practice and discuss the implications for further studies in the conclusions.


Published in:
Sustainability, 11, 16
Year:
Aug 11 2019
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 Record created 2019-08-22, last modified 2019-10-08

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