Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research in Practice: Between Imaginaries of Collective Experimentation and Entrenched Academic Value Orders

Ulrike Felt, Judith Igelsböck, Andrea Schikowitz, Thomas Völker

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review

Abstract

Over the past decades, we have witnessed calls for greater transdisciplinary engagement between scientific and societal actors to develop more robust answers to complex societal challenges. Although there seems to be agreement that these approaches might nurture innovations of a new kind, we know little regarding the research practices, their potential, and the limitations. To fill this gap, this article investigates a funding scheme in the area of transdisciplinary sustainability research. It offers a detailed analysis of the imaginaries and expectations on which the funding scheme rests and how researchers actually practice transdisciplinarity within the respective projects. Identifying three ideal typical models of science–society relations at work, attention is paid to how, where, and when societal and scientific arenas get (dis-)entangled. This article discusses (1) the tensions between classical academic values and efforts to open research to society, (2) the prevailing power structures that make societal participation challenging, (3) the importance of place and technopolitical cultures, and (4) how temporal project structures impede more radical openings to new ways of knowledge production. We finally emphasize that transdisciplinary knowledge production can only become a serious option for addressing societal challenges if broader changes are made to the knowledge regimes in place.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 30
JournalScience, Technology and Human Values
Volume0
Issue number0
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 509017 Social studies of science

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