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Combining the concepts of transdisciplinarity and partnership in research for sustainable development


Wiesmann, Urs; Hurni, Hans; Ott, Cordula; Zingerli, Claudia (2011). Combining the concepts of transdisciplinarity and partnership in research for sustainable development. In: Wiesmann, Urs; Hurni, Hans. Research for Sustainable Development: Foundations, Experiences, and Perspectives. Bern: Universität Bern, 43-70.

Abstract

The present article elaborates on the specific approach to and practice of research for sustainable development as conceptualised and implemented by the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) North- South. At the core is the overarching understanding of sustainable development as a normative concept demanding goal-oriented collaboration among disciplines as well as co-production of knowledge at the interface of scientific communities and society. Transdisciplinarity, research partnerships, and a recursive research approach are necessary pillars in the quest to bridge disciplines and paradigms, as well as science and society in sustainability-oriented research. We argue that research for sustainable development faces major conceptual challenges related to system definition, linking to disciplinary discourses and progress, and bridging contextuality and generalisation, alongside operational challenges of conflicting reference systems, conflicting basic objectives, and complex science–society interfaces. With reference to the NCCR North-South we show how these challenges can successfully be dealt with. Finally, we argue that sustainability-oriented development research, transdisciplinarity, and research partnerships can be strengthened in science and knowledge societies by systematically addressing the basic challenges at the levels of scientific concepts and methodologies, underlying ontologies, and scientific and social interactions and collaborations, as well as at the level of management and communication. This will require major efforts within broadly based research networks backed by political commitment and support – as is the case in the NCCR North-South.

Abstract

The present article elaborates on the specific approach to and practice of research for sustainable development as conceptualised and implemented by the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) North- South. At the core is the overarching understanding of sustainable development as a normative concept demanding goal-oriented collaboration among disciplines as well as co-production of knowledge at the interface of scientific communities and society. Transdisciplinarity, research partnerships, and a recursive research approach are necessary pillars in the quest to bridge disciplines and paradigms, as well as science and society in sustainability-oriented research. We argue that research for sustainable development faces major conceptual challenges related to system definition, linking to disciplinary discourses and progress, and bridging contextuality and generalisation, alongside operational challenges of conflicting reference systems, conflicting basic objectives, and complex science–society interfaces. With reference to the NCCR North-South we show how these challenges can successfully be dealt with. Finally, we argue that sustainability-oriented development research, transdisciplinarity, and research partnerships can be strengthened in science and knowledge societies by systematically addressing the basic challenges at the levels of scientific concepts and methodologies, underlying ontologies, and scientific and social interactions and collaborations, as well as at the level of management and communication. This will require major efforts within broadly based research networks backed by political commitment and support – as is the case in the NCCR North-South.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:2011
Deposited On:30 Apr 2012 15:56
Last Modified:17 Feb 2018 15:48
Publisher:Universität Bern
Series Name:Perspectives of the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) North-South
Number:6
ISBN:978-3-905835-31-1
Additional Information:Ist gleichzeitig in der Reihe Geographica Bernensia erschienen
OA Status:Green
Official URL:http://www.nccr-north-south.unibe.ch/publications/Infosystem/On-line%20Dokumente/Upload/2_Wiesmann_Ott(1).pdf

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