Doing transdisciplinarity

In this section, we would like to gather and share all kinds of experiences with transdisciplinary (TD) research and, in particular, provide visibility to TD projects (#tdprojects) and capacity building endeavours.

Our first "TD story" is devoted to this year’s LIRA 2030 training workshop on transdisciplinary research, which took place in Côte d'Ivoire:

Capacity building for integrative, transdisciplinary research for sustainable urban development - the LIRA 2030 training Workshop in Grand-Bassam, Côte d’Ivoire, Sept 2-7, 2018


A week of hard work, reflection and fun in exercises, group work, presentations and on a field trip to engage with stakeholders: this year’s LIRA 2030 training workshop on transdisciplinary research took place in Grand-Bassam, Côte d’Ivoire with 32 early career researchers from 14 African countries.

LIRA 2030 stands for “Leading Integrated Research for Agenda 2030 in Africa” and is a five-year programme jointly developed and implemented by the Network of African Science Academies NASAC and the International Science Council ISC, and is supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency SIDA. This year, the third cohort of early career scientists is going through the project selection process, while the 20 projects supported from the two previous calls are already running, each with research teams based in two cities of different African countries.

With an innovative programme design, LIRA 2030 invites PIs of selected projects based on their pre-proposals to deepen and reflect their understanding of transdisciplinary research approaches and its practical implications for their research proposals and careers, as well as to build contacts and alliances between researchers in the field of sustainable urban development in Africa.

Organised by ISC, the training was conducted by a team of trainers consisting of transdisciplinary and subject matter experts. The training had a focus on enabling participants to design and conduct their own research project. Short inputs on theory, methodology and methods of transdisciplinary research as baseline and videos and presentations of existing TD projects as illustrations were introduced as fundament for a series of interactive exercises on important steps along the transdisciplinary research process, conducted in various settings, such as reflections and work on the own project, group tasks, plenary discussions and role play. Some of the exercises were based on td-net’s toolbox for co-producing knowledge, e.g. actor constellation and three types of knowledge exercises.

An important strand of the training was the reflection and further development of the participant’s own projects based on the insights during the week. This work culminated at the last day of the course with presentations of the potentially reframed focus and approach of the project. Many of these presentations revealed a more focussed project goal, a shift towards starting from the needs, interests and desired futures of the relevant stakeholder groups, project outlines structured along the types of knowledge to be produced, and also reshaped outcome plans more aligned with the project goal, available resources and time.

The Network for Transdisciplinary Research td-net of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences was engaged in this training workshop for the third consecutive year and also contributes to the ongoing development of training and coaching activities within the LIRA 2030 programme.

Tobias Buser, td-net, September 2018

See also: LIRA 2030 is currently looking for scientific and non-academic reviewers

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