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Article
Publication date: 7 March 2016

John van Breda, Josephine Musango and Alan Brent

This paper aims to improve the understanding of individual transdisciplinary PhD research in a developing country context, focusing on three individual PhD case studies in…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to improve the understanding of individual transdisciplinary PhD research in a developing country context, focusing on three individual PhD case studies in South Africa.

Design/methodology/approach

Multiple-case method was used, and three completed transdisciplinary PhD research efforts undertaken at the Stellenbosch University were selected. They were coordinated through the TsamaHub, an inter-faculty platform at the University which organises educational modules for transdisciplinary research. Using actual research experiences and reflections of the three individual PhDs, the paper evaluates their work in terms of ontological, epistemological, methodological and methodical/methods aspects.

Findings

The central challenge to individual PhD researchers is engagement with non-academic actors to enable joint problem formulation, analysis and transformation. To overcome this, the paper suggests that developing individual epistemic relationships to build “transdisciplinary epistemic communities” should be considered for inclusion as an intentional aspect of transdisciplinary research design.

Research limitations/implications

Transdisciplinary epistemic communities” is still a concept in its infancy and needs more work before it may be theoretically and practically useful.

Practical implications

Continuously guiding the individual transdisciplinary research process in a reflexive, recursive, transparent and equal manner is absolutely critical because transdisciplinary research cannot be done successfully if dominated by overly methods-driven approaches.

Originality/value

The discourse around transdisciplinary methodology has major implications for the design of individual PhD research. The paper provides recommendations to enhance the theory and practice of individual transdisciplinary PhD research.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 17 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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Article
Publication date: 3 July 2017

Antonietta Di Giulio and Rico Defila

Inter- and transdisciplinarity are core concepts in almost all education for sustainable development (ESD) competence frameworks and curricula. To equip students with…

Abstract

Purpose

Inter- and transdisciplinarity are core concepts in almost all education for sustainable development (ESD) competence frameworks and curricula. To equip students with inter- and transdisciplinary competencies is highly demanding for educators. Educators must not only know how to teach students such competencies, but need to be experienced in inter- and transdisciplinary research and must have some technical knowledge about inter- and transdisciplinarity. This paper aims to show how university educators can be supported in their teaching.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is a case study based on research and on experiences in interdisciplinary teaching and in supporting educators in their interdisciplinary teaching.

Findings

The paper presents a competence framework of interdisciplinary competencies to guide university teachers that has been developed, implemented and refined in interdisciplinary study programmes belonging to the field of ESD. It shows how the professional development of educators could be addressed referring to the experiences in these programmes. The measures presented consist for one thing of interdisciplinary processes among the educators and of measures directly supporting educators in their teaching for another thing.

Originality/value

The case study the paper refers to is of special value, first, because the experiences are based on long-standing research and on two decades of experiences. Second, because considerable efforts were made to deliver coherent and consistent interdisciplinary teaching in which interdisciplinarity was not only a teaching subject for the students but showed by the educators as well so that the educators involved did not only talk about competencies for inter- and transdisciplinary collaborations but also set an example in their own doings.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 18 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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Article
Publication date: 1 July 2006

Harald A. Mieg

This paper aims at a better understanding of expert roles in transdisciplinary projects. Thus, the main purpose is the analysis of the roles of experts in transdisciplinary

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims at a better understanding of expert roles in transdisciplinary projects. Thus, the main purpose is the analysis of the roles of experts in transdisciplinary projects.

Design/methodology/approach

The analysis of the ETH‐UNS case studies from the point of view of the psychology of expertise and the sociology of professions is based on findings and considerations from the psychology of expertise and the sociology of professions – as both lines of research are concerned with experts and the use of expertise. This paper focuses on projects in the framework of the so‐called transdisciplinary case study approach that has been developed at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich in the 1990s.

Findings

It is claimed that, firstly, system experts provide important information on the local human‐environmental system and have to be regarded as serious experts, that is knowledge specialists with a certain responsibility for information. Secondly, decision‐making experts run into problems integrating other professionals into transdisciplinary projects and should, therefore, professionalize themselves.

Practical implications

The paper encourages the use of residents, etc. as system experts in transdisciplinary projects.

Originality/value

The roles of experts in transdisciplinary project are clarified.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 7 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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Article
Publication date: 9 November 2012

Christos Bimpitsos and Eugenia Petridou

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the benefits, barriers and challenges of the transdisciplinary approach to training, and to present findings of a case analysis.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the benefits, barriers and challenges of the transdisciplinary approach to training, and to present findings of a case analysis.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on the research findings of an experimental training program for Greek local government managers co‐funded by the European Union.

Findings

The adoption of the transdisciplinary approach for the effective training of (local government) managers has a number of important advantages, including the connection of training with real problems that organizations face today, as well as the development of transdisciplinary competences necessary for the effective adaptation and activation of managers in the turbulent environment of the new economy.

Research limitations/implications

The experimental training program focuses on managers of Greek local government organizations. However, the critical factors that are described are relative to the training needs of most organizations operating in the new globalized economic environment.

Practical implications

The design of the transdisciplinary training programs, as well as their implementation and evaluation processes, can be of use to all organizations interested in the strategic training and development of human resources, regardless of their size and sector.

Originality/value

There is a great potential for the development of training programs based on the transdisciplinary approach. Fields of immediate application are those where social, economic and ecological elements interact and should be integrated in a sustainable way.

Details

European Journal of Training and Development, vol. 36 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-9012

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Article
Publication date: 3 January 2017

Petra Biberhofer and Christian Rammel

This paper aims to explain the relevance of science-society interfaces and their potential for higher education institutions to engage stakeholders in supporting…

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1121

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explain the relevance of science-society interfaces and their potential for higher education institutions to engage stakeholders in supporting sustainable change in cities, via the transdisciplinary learning and teaching approach of the Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development Vienna.

Design/methodology/approach

This case study stresses new forms of transdisciplinary learning and teaching as essential drivers of a sustainable urban development. The inter- and transdisciplinary teaching course “Sustainability Challenge”, which has been offered since 2010 as a collaborative project by the four largest universities of Vienna, highlights the value of experienced-based learning approaches and the method of service learning. Special attention is devoted to the opportunities and challenges of the setting provided by the applied science-society interface and the particular method of service learning with its concrete benefits for the city of Vienna.

Findings

In analyzing the conceptual framework of the teaching course as well as conducted service learning projects, the authors prove potential benefits of transdisciplinary learning and teaching for real answers to urban sustainability challenges. Portraits of the most successful service learning projects are presented, with partners such as the City of Vienna, an organization and one enterprise. Lessons learned from the case study and key elements of the institutionalized umbrella function of science-society interfaces that provide prerequisites for applying transdisciplinary learning and teaching are shown.

Originality/value

Finally, main requirements, challenges and necessary institutional settings for transdisciplinary learning and teaching are summarized.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 18 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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Article
Publication date: 21 March 2016

Anders Gustafsson, Claes Högström, Zoe Radnor, Margareta Friman, Kristina Heinonen, Elina Jaakkola and Cristina Mele

The purpose of this paper is to discuss how service, as an interdisciplinary area of research, can increase its potential for transdisciplinary contributions from the…

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2090

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to discuss how service, as an interdisciplinary area of research, can increase its potential for transdisciplinary contributions from the perspective of what signifies intra-, multi-, inter-, and transdisciplinary research.

Design/methodology/approach

The essay first discusses common perspectives on the service concept before presenting a review on what signifies intra-, multi-, inter-, and transdisciplinary research. The emerging theoretical framework is followed by a discussion on the challenges and opportunities for service research in making interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary theoretical contributions.

Findings

The research provides a typological framework for understanding intra-, multi-, inter-, and transdisciplinary service research and, implications related to how service research contributions can become increasingly inter- and transdisciplinary.

Originality/value

The paper contributes to widening the scope of service research by focussing on how the domain can overcome hurdles and increase its potential for making theoretical contributions that are applicable across and beyond established research disciplines.

Details

Journal of Service Management, vol. 27 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1757-5818

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Article
Publication date: 23 October 2007

Birgitte Rasmussen, Per Dannemand Andersen and Allan Skårup Kristensen

The purpose of this paper is to report on experiences and reflect on challenges in transdisciplinary technology foresight as exemplified by cognition and robotics research.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to report on experiences and reflect on challenges in transdisciplinary technology foresight as exemplified by cognition and robotics research.

Design/methodology/approach

The study was conducted as a broad transdisciplinary process involving users and producers of robot technology solutions as well as scientists and other experts in cognition and robotics. Transdisciplinarity is understood as the transcendence of disciplinary modes together with the involvement and participation of non‐scientists in problem formulation and knowledge provision. The study focuses on the possibilities for innovation at the crossroads where robotics and cognition meet.

Findings

The paper reflects on the following methodological issues: medium‐ and long‐term research and innovation possibilities and barriers in a transdisciplinary context; the classification and framing of transdisciplinary fields; the facilitation of technology foresight processes; and the trustworthiness of the foresight process and its recommendations.

Practical implications

The results have been disseminated among relevant advisory and grant‐awarding bodies within research and innovation, relevant knowledge institutions and universities, and companies on both the development and user sides of the technologies.

Originality/value

The paper contributes to European experiences on national‐level foresight exercises. The conceptual findings of the case study are of value to science and innovation policy makers, foresight practitioners and scholars within the field.

Details

Foresight, vol. 9 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-6689

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Article
Publication date: 21 February 2019

Qian Jia, Ying Wang and Li Fengting

The purpose of this paper is to provide a case study of the establishment and development of a minor program in Sustainable Development in Tongji University, China, and…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide a case study of the establishment and development of a minor program in Sustainable Development in Tongji University, China, and how it contributes to embedding sustainable development into higher education system as an alternative platform for researchers and students to involve in a transdisciplinary teaching and learning process.

Design/methodology/approach

This case reviews the institutional setting and the different studying models and requirements for postgraduates and undergraduates. Postgraduate students have to take four core courses, select one module with four themed courses (4 + 4 fixed) and complete a transdisciplinary essay, and undergraduates can choose any three courses in all modules apart from the four core courses (4 + 3 open), with a transdisciplinary group project.

Findings

The development of the minor program reveals the popularity and decline of different modules, because of the popularity of the schools and institutes behind them, the university legacy and the media influence. The program design spurs transdisciplinary thinking on sustainable development but brings about challenges including time conflict with students’ major study. In conclusion, this program explores alternative education practices in embedding sustainable development in education system, contributing to and reflect on Education for Sustainable Development and the education reform in China.

Originality/value

The case presents a unique way of implementing Education for Sustainable Development in higher education system, in which minor education stands between formal and informal curriculum to tackle the barriers in undertaking sustainable development initiatives in curricula, through nurturing the culture and providing organizational support.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 20 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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Article
Publication date: 28 January 2021

Shogo Kudo, Kanako Omi, Kevin Florentin and Doreen Ingosan Allasiw

This paper aims to describe how a sustainability-focused program in higher education can provide training and key experiences for implementing transdisciplinary

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to describe how a sustainability-focused program in higher education can provide training and key experiences for implementing transdisciplinary approaches. The case is a fieldwork-based training course called the Global Field Exercise (GFE) at the Graduate Program in Sustainability Science, The University of Tokyo. The GFE is a methodological training course that emphasizes generating locally relevant research questions on sustainability.

Design/methodology/approach

This research is a case study regarding how a sustainability science program can offer a fieldwork-based training course that focuses on a transdisciplinary approach. Five students from diverse academic disciplines and cultural backgrounds participated in the GFE in QwaQwa where they conducted semi-structured interviews with six local entrepreneurs to identify the challenges and opportunities of entrepreneurship. The authors investigated the learning process and outcomes of the students through participatory observation in preparatory meetings, daily reflection sessions during fieldwork and a content analysis of feedback reports.

Findings

Four learning outcomes of the students were suggested: the reexamination of assumptions, managing misunderstanding and miscommunication, mutual learning and being empathic toward the local people.

Research limitations/implications

This paper suggests three key opportunistic experiences for the transdisciplinary approach: discuss the normative dimension of sustainability; build intersubjectivity among team members and adopt methodological pluralism; and become empathetic to diverse stakeholder groups to facilitate the cogeneration of knowledge.

Originality/value

How to design training on a transdisciplinary approach in educational programs remains an area for further exploration. This study addresses this knowledge gap by establishing a link between sustainability education and sustainability in practice.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 22 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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Article
Publication date: 8 May 2020

Doug Arbogast, Peter Butler, Eve Faulkes, Daniel Eades, Jinyang Deng, Kudzayi Maumbe and David Smaldone

This paper aims to describe the transdisciplinary, multiphase, mixed methods, generative design research, participatory planning and social design activities developed and…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to describe the transdisciplinary, multiphase, mixed methods, generative design research, participatory planning and social design activities developed and implemented by the West Virginia University Rural Tourism Design Team and associated outcomes.

Design/methodology/approach

The multiphase methodology included quantitative and qualitative research in initial stages of the study (key informant interviews, resident attitudes toward tourism survey, visitor preferences survey, economic impact analysis) which informed social design activities at latter stages (asset mapping, landscape design/visualization of opportunities and sites targeted for development and cultural identity design) using generative design tools facilitating co-design with the communities and helping the destination take sequential steps toward achieving their goals and objectives.

Findings

Opportunities and challenges identified through multiple methods were triangulated and pointed to the same conclusions including the need for long term planning and managed growth; protecting community values; underutilized natural, cultural and historic assets; the opportunity to develop nature-based, cultural and historical attractions; and the need for a common vision and collective identity.

Research limitations/implications

This study makes a unique contribution to literature on sustainable tourism planning by incorporating social design activities to visualize findings of more traditional planning methods and provide tangible, visible outcomes of planning activities which can guide local stakeholders in rural destinations more directly to funding for planning recommendations and project implementation.

Practical implications

The transdisciplinary and social/generative/participatory approach provided a scaffolding of outputs to the community with citizen control and active involvement throughout the planning and design process. The incorporation of social design provided tangible outcomes including site designs and a cultural identity. Generative design research gives people a language with which they can imagine and express their ideas and dreams for future experiences.

Originality/value

This paper investigates the role of social design in a transdisciplinary, multiphase project to support sustainable tourism planning.

Details

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, vol. 32 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0959-6119

Keywords

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