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Transdisciplinary transformative change: an analysis of some best practices and barriers, and the potential of critical social science in getting us there


Deutsch, Sierra; Keller, Roger; Krug, Cornelia Bettina; Michel, Annina Helena (2023). Transdisciplinary transformative change: an analysis of some best practices and barriers, and the potential of critical social science in getting us there. Biodiversity and Conservation, 32(11):3569-3594.

Abstract

Biodiversity experts now widely acknowledge that transformative change is best supported through transdisciplinary collaborations. Yet, such collaborations rarely successfully occur in major biodiversity research institutions and those that do rarely achieve the paradigmatic effects they aim to deliver. To gain some insight into this global phenomenon, we surveyed Swiss-based researchers and non-academic stakeholders addressing global change and biodiversity. In this article, we connect our findings to global patterns in transdisciplinary transformative change initiatives (TTCIs) and heuristically divide collaboration barriers into two categories: lack of resources and lack of vital functional elements. Two of the major themes that emerged from this research were the continued difficulties with (1) establishing a common ‘language’, understanding, and goals, and (2) meaningful pluralization of knowledge in transdisciplinary collaborations aimed at addressing global change and biodiversity loss. The former is widely cited in the literature as contributing to the failure of TTCIs in the form of incoherent problem-framing, while the latter is often identified as contributing to the lack of structural transformative change (e.g., paradigmatic shifts) in completed initiatives. Another major theme reflected in TTCI literature was limited time. Moreover, based on our own extensive inter- and transdisciplinary experience, we agree with other experts that there is a persistent lack of understanding of the potential contributions of critical social science (CSS) to TTCIs. We thus argue that enhancing resource availability for TTCIs, especially tools for improving CSS literacy, could save time and support both problem-framing alignment and delivery of the structural/paradigmatic changes we aspire to.

Abstract

Biodiversity experts now widely acknowledge that transformative change is best supported through transdisciplinary collaborations. Yet, such collaborations rarely successfully occur in major biodiversity research institutions and those that do rarely achieve the paradigmatic effects they aim to deliver. To gain some insight into this global phenomenon, we surveyed Swiss-based researchers and non-academic stakeholders addressing global change and biodiversity. In this article, we connect our findings to global patterns in transdisciplinary transformative change initiatives (TTCIs) and heuristically divide collaboration barriers into two categories: lack of resources and lack of vital functional elements. Two of the major themes that emerged from this research were the continued difficulties with (1) establishing a common ‘language’, understanding, and goals, and (2) meaningful pluralization of knowledge in transdisciplinary collaborations aimed at addressing global change and biodiversity loss. The former is widely cited in the literature as contributing to the failure of TTCIs in the form of incoherent problem-framing, while the latter is often identified as contributing to the lack of structural transformative change (e.g., paradigmatic shifts) in completed initiatives. Another major theme reflected in TTCI literature was limited time. Moreover, based on our own extensive inter- and transdisciplinary experience, we agree with other experts that there is a persistent lack of understanding of the potential contributions of critical social science (CSS) to TTCIs. We thus argue that enhancing resource availability for TTCIs, especially tools for improving CSS literacy, could save time and support both problem-framing alignment and delivery of the structural/paradigmatic changes we aspire to.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
08 Research Priority Programs > Global Change and Biodiversity
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
910 Geography & travel
Uncontrolled Keywords:Nature and Landscape Conservation, Ecology, Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Language:English
Date:1 September 2023
Deposited On:23 Mar 2023 15:37
Last Modified:29 Jun 2024 01:35
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0960-3115
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-023-02576-0
Project Information:
  • : FunderUniversity of Zurich
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  • : FunderUniversity of Zurich
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  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)