Swiss Inter- and Transdisciplinarity Day 2018

Inter- and Transdisciplinarity in a Digital World

15 November 2018, EPFL, Lausanne
 

POSTERS & SPEED TALKS

The following posters were exhibited during the Swiss Inter- and Transdisciplinarity Day 2018 and presented in the sessions of speed talks.

See the programme of the speed talks

 

Apostol Ileana (NetHood): The right to the hybrid city: central urban space as a commons

presented in the session 2 of the speed talks (13:15-14:00)

Authors
Ileana Apostol, NetHood, Zurich, Switzerland
Panayotis Antoniadis, NetHood, Zurich, Switzerland
Thomas Raoseta, gim5i+, Zurich, Switzerland

Keywords
right to the city, hybrid space, difference, living labs, collective learning

Abstract
Fifty years after Henri Lefebvre published on 'the right to the city', we propose to discuss the concept under the current digital and physical spatial condition. Today urban spaces shall be conceived as hybrid, physical and digital, due to the advance of ICTs and their impact on almost every aspect of social life; a key question arises, how the different rights to the hybrid urban space can be claimed by citizens. NetHood, a transdisciplinary association undertaking research and learning within the hybrid spatial conditions, focuses on the right to centrality and to difference, for which the city of Zurich brings particular challenges and opportunities. For example, because of high value real estate and due to a long experience with democratic urban practices. In context a promising project was initiated recently: the co-creation of a neighbourhood space in a key location of the city center, by the name L200, conceived as a hybrid urban node run collectively; as a commons managed by the gim5i+ association of neighbourhood small shops, initiatives and non-profit organizations; at the crossings of manifold urban networks such as those of paths and spaces for public life, of communication and information, of trade, exchange and networking, etc. The idea is to use digital technology both as an enabler of such a complex and demanding collaborative project and as a proof of concept on how our rights to the digital space can be exercised in creative and democratic ways toward better coordination, organization, information sharing, deliberation as well as social learning in the long term. In this sense, L200 is developed as an urban living lab for hybrid tools that can help small neighbourhood shops to create economies of scale in a distributed and decentralized way, or allow a diverse group of organiza.ons and individuals to share the space and its street windows efficiently over time. It will also become a pilot project for DIY networking tools, like the MAZI toolkit, which can facilitate the creation of digital spaces that are collectively owned and are literally attached to the physical ones, in our case the L200 space, a feature that allows for many playful and creative ways to build collective identity and memory in a participatory way. We document in this work the transdisciplinary process of producing hybrid space through various actions including petitions and claims for favourable action, applied projects in the neighbourhood, and recent shifts toward formulating guidelines based on the experience built at L200. The project describes a potential blueprint for creating hybrid infrastructure, and in the near future urban policies may be devised to bring such grassroots initiatives to reality at the city scale.

Key reading
Antoniadis, P., & Apostol, I. 2014. The right(s) to the hybrid city and the role of DIY networking. The Journal of Community Informatics, 10(3).

Cocco Christelle (University of Lausanne): Images at the crossroads between computer vision and the human and social sciences: an inter- and transdisciplinary project of drawings of gods

presented in the session 1 of the speed talks (13:15-14:00)

POSTER IN PDF

Authors
Christelle Cocco, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Olga Serbaeva, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Frédéric Darbellay, University of Geneva, Switzerland
Dominique Vinck, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Zhargalma Dandarova Robert, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Pierre-Yves Brandt, University of Lausanne, Switzerland

Keywords
Drawing of gods, Digital tools, Inter- and Transdisciplinarity, Digital Humanities

Abstract
The project “Drawings of gods: A Multicultural and Interdisciplinary Approach to Children’s Representations of Supernatural Agents” is an inter- and transdisciplinary project which aims to discover novel patterns in children’s representation of gods using the mixed-method (children’s drawings, narratives and questionnaires). Unlike previous studies mostly conducted within Western Christian context, this project is based on data from a larger diversity of countries and religious traditions (currently, 6’500 drawings from eight countries) and seeks to contribute to the lack of research in culture and interfaith variation of children’s representations. Primarily rooted in developmental psychology and psychology of religion, the project largely integrates religious studies, sociology and computer sciences to gain more insight into the complexity and diversity of children’s representations of supernatural agencies.

Three types of digital tools were developed to ensure the effective implementation of the project. Firstly, in order to make the collected drawings accessible to the whole interdisciplinary team of researchers, including international partners, an online database was created (ddd.unil.ch). Secondly, the annotation tool “Gauntlet” was designed and created to meet the special needs of this research (d2d.vital-it.ch). Thirdly, project specific computer vision and image processing methods, such as colour detection, were developed to deal with the large amounts of data.

One of the main challenges of the project is a necessity to test, rethink and rework the created digital tools to respond to specific needs of the interdisciplinary project and the unique character of children’s drawings. This required considerable time investment, financial resources and new skills on the part of researchers. We were faced with different types of problems, from the standardization of the quality of the scanned data to the architectural problems of the database, in order to better deal with the complexity and variety of collected data. Indeed, the digital tools considerably altered the research practices of humanities scholars.

Key readings
Darbellay, F.; Vinck, D.; Cocco, C.; Dessart, G.; Dandarova Robert, Z. & Brandt, P.-Y. (2018), 'L'interdisciplinarité en partage: collaborer pour innover. Le projet “dessins de Dieu”', InnovatiO (5).

Cocco, C.; Dessart, G.; Serbaeva, O.; Brandt, P.-Y.; Vinck, D. & Darbellay, F. (2018), 'Potentialités et difficultés d'un projet en humanités numériques (DH): confrontation aux outils et réorientations de recherche', Digital Humanities Quarterly 12(4).

Dandarova Robert, Z.; Dessart, G.; Serbaeva, O.; Puzdriac, C.; Khodayarifard, M.; Zardkhaneh, S. A.; Zandi, S.; Petanova, E.; Ladd, K. L. & Brandt, P.-Y. (2016), 'A Web-based Database for Drawings of Gods', Archive for the Psychology of Religion 38(3), 345-352.

Coccolo Silvia (EPFL): A transdisciplinary approach to understand, compute and visualize the city interface


POSTER IN PDF

Authors
S. Coccolo, J. Gong, A. Kostro, D. Mauree, A.T.D. Perera, A. Schueler, J.-L. Scartezzini

Keywords
Urban Energy Modelling; Advanced Glazing System; City Interface; Human Thermal Comfort

Abstract
In order to face the climate change and to improve the sustainability of our cities, architects and urban planners focus on an efficient urban design, improving the energy fluxes within the built environment. But frequently, due to the complexity of the urban metabolism, the impact of the buildings on the urban climatic conditions, as well as on the outdoor thermal and visual conditions is left behind. Indeed, several famous buildings, due to their form and reflectivity, are examples for the uncomfortable conditions created by their facades [1]. The main problem during the design phase, is that, up to now it is quite difficult to compute all the energy fluxes animating the city, and no tool is available to completely support architects and urban planners.
In order to overcome this problem, we propose the development of a digital framework [2] to compute and digitalize the urban environmental conditions, and their variation as function of the city interface. In the present work, the city interface is defined as the space in-between the indoor and the outdoor environment, i.e. the building envelopes. The present study focuses on the impact of the city interface on the urban microclimate and the outdoor thermal comfort of pedestrians. An interdisciplinary approach (architecture, bioclimatology, engineering and physics) trying to fill a gap of knowledge within the urban simulations and design will be applied.
Firstly, we modelled three urban canyons (East-West and North-South oriented) with a height-width ratio included between 0.5 to 3. Then, with the urban energy tool CitySim, we computed the outdoor thermal comfort perceived by the pedestrians, by the means of the comfort energy model COMFA* budget. In order to understand the impact of the buildings envelope with an advanced glazing system [3], the glazing percentage and glazing interface properties (e.g. the specular and diffuse reflectivity from glazing to the outdoor environment) are varied. The effect of the city interface on the urban microclimatic conditions (outdoor air temperature and wind speed) is investigated by the simulation. The results underline the importance of the city interface on the thermal comfort of pedestrians, being highly responsible, as function of the canyon geometry, the glazing properties and the climatic conditions, for the discomfortable hours during the daytime. Finally, thanks to the proposed methodology, all the energy fluxes affecting the pedestrian’s thermal sensation are quantified (short and longwave radiation, evaporation, convection and metabolic activity) and visualized.
A future development of this study is presented, focusing on the computation of the city interface on the energy demands of buildings and on the energy systems optimization.

Key readings
[1] J. Y. Suk, M. Schiler, and K. Kensek, “Reflectivity and specularity of building envelopes: how materiality in architecture affects human visual comfort,” Archit. Sci. Rev., vol. 60, no. 4, pp. 256–265, 2017.

[2] A. T. D. Perera, S. Coccolo, J. L. Scartezzini, and D. Mauree, “Quantifying the impact of urban climate by extending the boundaries of urban energy system modeling,” Appl. Energy, vol. 222, no. April, pp. 847–860, 2018.

[3] J. Gong, A. Kostro, A. Motamed, and A. Schueler, “Potential advantages of a multifunctional complex fenestration system with embedded micro-mirrors in daylighting,” Sol. Energy, vol. 139, pp. 412–425, Dec. 2016.

Coccolo Silvia (EPFL): Digitalizing the urban landscape. Microclimate, energy systems and comfort

presented in the session 2 of the speed talks (13:15-14:00)

POSTER IN PDF

Authors
S. Coccolo, A.T.D. Perera, D. Mauree, J.-L. Scartezzini

Keywords
Urban Energy Modelling; Urban Green Infrastructures; Energy Systems; Human Thermal Comfort

Abstract
Urban Green Infrastructures (UGI) play a major role in mitigating the urban climatic conditions, as well as improving people’s health and wellbeing. Indeed, nature has a positive impact both on the pedestrian thermal and psychological perception, increasing productivity and creativity due to their restorative properties. Additionally, UGI mitigate the urban climatic conditions, reducing the energy demand of buildings and affecting the energy systems.

The objective of this work is to develop a digital platform to arrive at urban planning decisions considering the impact of greenings on the urban microclimates, thermal perception of the pedestrians and energy infrastructure. The greening module developed within the tool CitySim [1] is coupled with the Canopy Interface Model [2], in order to compute the impact of greening (trees and grass) on the air temperature and wind speed. The study is performed for several urban configurations, focusing on the Lausanne climatic conditions. Greenings are designed as grass (varying their f-factor as function of the water supply), and trees (varying their leaf area index and height). The microclimatic conditions are used to quantify the hourly human thermal comfort, by the bio-meteorological index COMFA* budget. The proposed methodology also integrates energy systems optimizations [3], focusing on the impact of greenings on the renewable energy systems and its influence in smoothing the peak demand.

The simulations performed provide the dynamic hourly variation of the wind speed and air temperature within the urban canyon, as function of the greening design (evapotranspiration capacity, geometrical properties of trees). The human thermal comfort is computed, in time and space, showing the positive impact of greening in reducing the “warm” and “hot” thermal sensations during the warmer months. The hourly energy demand of buildings is also computed, and the results are analysed focusing on the renewable energy systems. Results indicate the positive impact of greening in mitigating the urban climatic conditions, as function of the canyon design and the evapotranspiration capacity of the landscape. The important impact on the energy demand of buildings and the energy systems is also presented, providing recommendations for a smart urban systems design.

The proposed digital platform provides an interactive display, a common ground of discussion for urban planners, architects, engineers and biometeorologists. Thanks to the work developed, an interdisciplinary knowledge is defined, which will be used as a teaching instrument within the ENAC faculty.

Key readings
[1] S. Coccolo, “Bioclimatic Design of Sustainable Campuses using Advanced Optimisation Methods,” 2017. EPFL Thesis n. 7756.

[2] D. Mauree, N. Blond, M. Kohler, and A. Clappier, “On the Coherence in the Boundary Layer: Development of a Canopy Interface Model,” Front. Earth Sci., vol. 4, 2017.

[3] A. T. D. Perera, V. M. Nik, D. Mauree, and J.-L. Scartezzini, “Electrical hubs: An effective way to integrate non-dispatchable renewable energy sources with minimum impact to the grid,” Appl. Energy, vol. 190, pp. 232–248, Mar. 2017.

Hilser Stefan (Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany): Supporting transformative research by doing transformative research - Wikis as a support mechanism for mutual learning

presented in the session 1 of the speed talks (13:15-14:00)

POSTER IN PDF

Author
Stefan Hilser, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany

Keywords
Transdisciplinarity, Transformative Research, Community of Practice, Wiki, Co-Creation

Abstract
Background: Transdisciplinarity is a transformative research approach that focuses on mutual learning across disciplines and together with people outside academia. It aims for the co-creation and integration of knowledge, to be solution oriented, but also reflexive and empowering. These aims also constitute its main challenges. The fields of participatory action research, intervention research and transition research share those aims and challenges. Hence, there is great potential for mutual learning about challenges, tensions and improvements for transformative research practices.

Objective: My objectives are twofold. First, the investigation of challenges, tensions and coping mechanisms/strategies in transformative research. Second, to build a community that connects actors from abovementioned fields surrounding those challenges by opening up a digital space for mutual learning, co-creation and reflection.

Process & Methods: To achieve this, the process follows four phases called (1) collection, (2) condensing & feedback, (3) synthesis & co-creation and (4) reflection & evaluation, cutting across phases one to three.

The collection phase will consist of reflexive interviews with experts from abovementioned fields, serving the identification of challenges and tensions in transformative research practice and how they can be addressed. The interviews further aim to foster critical reflections on the expert’s role and how it influenced the research process. Each of the interviews will be documented and summarized in a separate wiki-page.

In the condensing & feedback phase, I will invite the experts to use the wiki for feedback on my summaries of their experiential accounts, giving them control over their data, while getting used to working in the wiki. The experts’ feedback about their pages and the software will help me reflect on how to improve the tool as well as on my own interpretations and assumptions.

In the synthesis & co-creation phase, emerging themes from the interviews will be identified and each summarized in a separate wiki-page, linking the theme to the expert interviews from which they emerged. This serves as a starting point for co-creation of a synthesis together with interested experts, using the wiki as a collaborative writing tool. This will help the group to reflect on commonalities and differences amongst their fields. Co-authorship for the resulting publication will be offered as an incentive to encourage active participation.

Final reflections & evaluation will focus on the transformative potential of the outlined research approach and role of the wiki as an integral part of it, analysing user interactions within the wiki as well as discussions and additional online-surveys.

Expected results: I expect to co-produce knowledge about different perspectives on challenges and tensions in transformative research practice and how they can be addressed. I further expect to create an active Community of Practice that connects disparate actors, deepens collaboration and enables mutual learning and a transformative research approach. Lastly, I expect to create a research approach that can be replicated to further grow this community, or used in other contexts to connect disparate communities.

Koseki Shin Alexandre (EPFL): Globalizing the digital: A cross-cultural framework for the ethics of Big Data


POSTER IN PDF

Author
Shin Alexandre Koseki, EPFL, Switzerland

Keywords
Big Data, Critical Data Studies, Justice, Moral Foundation Theory, Cross-Cultural

Abstract
Concerns over the ever-increasing production, availability and use of multilayered individual data in social research, business and the everyday life calls for the development of ethical and legal guidelines. In parallel to civic and governmental initiatives, Critical Data Studies offers a transdisciplinary academic platform to define a common ethical framework for computational research. Essays recently published under this label argue for lines of conduct guided by principles such as fairness and justice. Cultural and evolutionary anthropology, as well as political psychology show, however, those principles are mostly common to Northern liberal cultures. For example, Moral Foundation Theory identifies five cross-cultural grounds to ethical reasoning—Fairness, Care, Authority, In-group and Purity—the first two being associated with progressive views, and the three others with traditionalist views. In the current development of Critical Data Studies, the framing of research ethics by fairness and justice therefore risks to maintain, if not increase, the hegemony of Northern researchers on scientific productivity in Big Data research.

In this poster, I present a novel framing of Big Data ethics, one that considers the cross-cultural diversity of human morality. My objective is to lay out a shared ground to an urging global approach to knowledge production. First, I review existing ethical framework of Big Data research and classify each proposal according to the Moral Foundation Theory. Second, I identify commonalities and gaps of proposed framework and articulate possible extension of each framework using the missing moral foundations as guiding principles. Finally, I propose a synthetic framework of Big Data ethics.

The poster highlights the unbalance of ethical considerations in Big Data research, and in scientific production in general. The proposed framework points at ethical stances that could become major concerns in future research using Big Data for social research: Political or economic definition of scientific objectives, applications and limitations (authority); Exclusion of individuals, groups and communities in the production, publication and application of research findings (in-group); Constrains on inter- and transdisciplinary collaborations, research topics, methods of analysis, epistemic positioning and ontological grounds (purity).

Key readings
Boyd, Danah, and Kate Crawford. 2012. “Critical Questions for Big Data.” Information, Communication & Society 15 (5): 662–79.

Haidt, Jonathan. 2007. “The New Synthesis in Moral Psychology.” Science 316 (5827): 998–1002.

Taylor, Linnet. 2017. “What Is Data Justice? The Case for Connecting Digital Rights and Freedoms Globally.” Big Data & Society 4 (2): 2053951717736335.

Kueffer Christoph (Hochschule für Technik Rapperswil & ETH Zurich): „Wo Samen fallen“ – a GIS-based citizen science project about ecological connectivity in cities

presented in the session 2 of the speed talks (13:15-14:00)

POSTER IN PDF

Authors
Christoph Kueffer, Institut für Landschaft und Freiraum, Abteilung Landschaftsarchitektur, Hochschule für Technik Rapperswil & Institute of Integrative Biology, Department of Environmental Systems Science, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Kevin Vega, Institute of Integrative Biology, Department of Environmental Systems Science, ETH Zurich, Switzerland, Switzerland
Juanita Schläpfer, Zurich-Basel Plant-Science Center, Switzerland

Keywords
arts, biodiversity, GIS, genetics, urban ecology

Abstract
Nature in cities is a priority of Swiss biodiversity policies and urban development. Urban areas can be hotspots of biodiversity. Urban wilderness areas (Brachen, terrain vague, ruderal sites) inspire urbanists as both social and ecological refugia and spaces of freedom and unplanned developments. Fragmentation through urban densification threatens biodiversity and ‘Brachen’ and especially the ecological and social connectivity of them at a neighbourhood- or city-scale.
The citizen science project “Wo Samen fallen” connects a scientific research project on ecological connectivity in cities (using methods from vegetation science, conservation genetics and GIS) with a participatory process: Citizens are asked to leave a box filled with sterilized soil in their garden (or in other outdoors urban spaces) and then observe which plants arrive on their own and grow in the boxes. The citizens can upload lists of the species found in their box (identified with the help of botanists) and photos to a GIS-based webpage, and compare their observations with those of neighbours or else of someone living in a distant part of the city. What arrives through the wind or animals must come from somewhere else: the neighbour’s garden? A biodiversity area maintained by the city administration? The creation and maintenance of ecological connectivity builds ultimately on collaboration and social connectivity.
The project runs for its second year, and we have so far organised about 10 public activities related to it: at local markets, science fairs and outreach days of ETH Zurich, the Zürcher Festspiele (a music and arts festival) and workshops targeting specifically the participants of the citizen science project.
‘Wild’ plants, gardening, and the idea of connectivity inspire both specific and fundamental discussions about nature in cities, and about sustainable cities that function as systems that are more than the individual parts. It is the digital technology of the spatially-explicit GIS platform in combination with a very specific and experiential activity (putting boxes in the garden and observing them as part of one’s daily surrounding) that enables this rich dialogue.

More information
https://www.grc.uzh.ch/de/focus/exhibition/CitizenScience/wosamenfallen.html
http://stadtnatur.ch/samen
https://www.plantsciences.uzh.ch/de/outreach/citizenscience.html

Lupi Lucia (Polytechnic and University of Turin, Italy & he Open University, UK): Mirroring the City. Toward Web-Based Technologies to Support City Stakeholders in Local Development Actions

presented in the session 1 of the speed talks (13:15-14:00)

POSTER IN PDF

Author
Lucia Lupi, Interuniversity Department of Urban and Regional Studies and Planning, Polytechnic and University of Turin (IT) & Knowledge Media Institute, The Open University (UK)

Keywords
Urban Informatics, City intelligence, Web platforms, System design

Abstract
Despite massive investments and high expectations associated to the integration of smart city technologies into the city life, their support to the everyday activities, initiatives, and projects of public institutions, companies, third sector organisations, and citizens groups is still marginal, and the promise of a technology-driven local development is far from being firmed up. Current urban technologies do not reflect city dynamics because they are focused on individuals users or on the dichotomy between local governments and customer-citizens-voters, hiding the plurality of social structures and relationships among city stakeholders. Moreover, the silos logic to deal with urban problems on existing digital platforms contrasts with the ecosystemic nature of the city characterised by a tight interdependence between built-unbuilt environment, local activities, social norms and practices. By focusing on web technologies because of their accessibility, scalability, versatility, and low cost, the challenge is to understand how to design future technologies enabling city stakeholders in understanding better the complex context of their actions, making better decisions on the use of local resources, and activating inter-sectoral synergies among urban initiatives. To address this challenge, the work explored the integration between approaches, methods and theories in urban planning, design, and development with the informatics and system design disciplines, within a transdisciplinary research process adapting the TIPS framework to the specificity of a complex design problem. The analysis and progressive conceptualisation of the link between design choices in web platform development and the implications for the technological support of local actions implemented by city stakeholders have been elaborated throughout three years of field activities. Three case studies centred on the development of web platforms, respectively a civic social network, a collaborative urban governance platform, and a city data portal provided the opportunity to explore limits and potential applications of a new class of digital tools imagined as multi-stakeholders, multi-purpose, and multi-scale to reflect how cities work. Action research methods combined with participatory design techniques have been applied during the development of the three prototypes to face the contextual constraints of real working environments in different domains of urban activities. The lessons learned from these experiences provided a deep understanding about the system requirements defining a meaningful and acceptable representation of social structures and urban actions in a shared digital space oriented to mirror city dynamics, as well as insights on the contextual and technological factors to be considered under the perspective of the different types of stakeholders. At the end of the third case study, still on-going, the set of applicative scenarios synthesising the information gathered through the entire process will be analysed by using a grounded theory methodology. The goal is to systematise the findings across the three case studies in a theoretical framework of web technologies mirroring the city and operational guidelines for designers and decisions makers intended to build or adopt them in local initiatives.

Key readings

  • Foth, M. (Ed.). (2008). Handbook of research on urban informatics: the practice and promise of the real-time city. IGI Global.
  • Foth, M., Brynskov, M., & Ojala, T. (Eds.). (2015). Citizen’s right to the digital city: urban interfaces, activism, and placemaking. Springer.
  • Wulf, V., Schmidt, K., & Randall, D. (Eds.). (2015). Designing socially embedded technologies in the real-world. London: Springer.

Mader Clemens (Empa – Technology and Society Lab): LOTA - A software tool to enhance the quality of participatory research

presented in the session 1 of the speed talks (13:15-14:00)

POSTER IN PDF

Authors
Clemens Mader, Empa – Technology and Society Lab, Switzerland (corresponding, presenting author)
Lorenz Hilty, University of Zurich and Empa – Technology and Society Lab, Switzerland
Patrick Wäger, Empa – Technology and Society Lab, Switzerland

Keywords
participatory research, software tool, transparency, values, technology assessment, quality

Abstract

  • Objective, societal and scientific problem under investigation, scientific and societal goals

    LOTA (Landscape of Opinions in Technology Assessment) is a software tool to be used in participatory research initiatives (e.g. in transdisciplinary processes), which aims at increasing transparency on their normative foundations and enabling a rational discourse among the involved stakeholders.

    Outcomes of participatory research projects are strongly affected by the normative orientations of involved stakeholders such as policy makers, consumers, business experts, or the researchers themselves. In transdisciplinary research, their normative orientations both influence the co-design of the study as well as its outcomes. Researchers reporting from participatory projects usually aim to provide neutral results, i.e. results that contain both the descriptive aspects of the subject and – clearly separated – the normative aspects in the most possible neutral way. This is a challenge as normative neutrality is hardly possible for a researcher who aims to provide insights to society that contribute to a better live today and for the coming generations (Torgersen, 2018). The normative orientations of all participants in a transdisciplinary project, including the researchers, is framed by basic normative assumptions which may vary considerably from individual to individual. To what extent the research process succeeds in dealing with the tensions among assumed norms and values has a high impact on the quality of the study. Transparency of normative assumptions is thus crucial for transdisciplinary and participatory research initiatives. Making value orientations explicit and transparent is, however, hard for many stakeholders.
     
  • Description of research process and methods

    Building on past experience in technology assessment projects, the authors have developed the software tool LOTA (Landscape of Opinions in Technology Assessment) that assists stakeholders through a questionnaire in expressing value orientations by confronting them with a set of global targets that are based on a broad political consensus, including the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Furthermore, indicator systems were included such as the Human Development Index, the Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index, and the Happy Planet Index. The authors have excerpted those target systems to a smaller set of global goals, through which the original formulations are still accessible for the users. In a two-phased process of using the questionnaire, the “landscape” or spectrum of collected opinions on what is to safeguarded for this world with highest priority is given back to the participants to inspire discussion.
     
  • Outlook

    The LOTA software tool is currently under development. In a first attempt the software will be used in course of a participatory technology assessment study on artificial intelligence funded by TA-Swiss.
Key readings
Hilty, L.M., Mader, C., 2018: TA als Geburtshelfer eines rationalen Nachhaltigkeitsdiskurses, TA18 Konferenz, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften – Institut für Technologiefolgen-Abschätzung, 11. Juni 2018.

Torgersen, H. 2018: Die verborgene vierte Dimension – Normative Reflexion als Erweiterung der Theorie der Technikfolgenabschätzung, TATuP 27(1).

Mettler Tobias (IDHEAP, University of Lausanne): Citizen science a give and take? A lifecycle view on data collection and sharing


POSTER IN PDF


Author
Tobias Mettler, IDHEAP, University of Lausanne, Switzerland

Keywords
Big data, citizen science, crowdsourcing, long-term use, smart computing

Abstract
Research projects and initiatives, in which citizens participate in data collection, generating content, or other tasks, are gaining momentum. May it be in medicine, where volunteers help scientists to align multiple sequences of DNA or in ecology, where community-based environmental monitoring is used for determining the distribution and abundance of native and invasive species, “citizen science” seems to become a powerful method for researchers to conduct studies and engage with society.
However, scientists walk a fine line between creating interest and exploiting citizens “for the sake of scientific progress”. For instance, studies relying on sensors seamlessly integrated into clothing, shoes, bracelets, phones, or watches allow researchers to keep track of extremely detailed physiological, behavioural, or otherwise parameters and may later be used for a multitude of purposes, such as training data for machine learning algorithms or data points for visual analyses. In many cases, citizens volunteering in such crowdsourcing sensing data projects seldom get anything back in return. In lucky cases the data so collected ends up in open data repositories or in an appendix of a scientific publication.
In times where people get instant feedback and acknowledgement (e.g. Likes, re- tweets, shares, mentions), is it enough to simply appeal to a (possible yet not always realized) greater public good from a scientific project? Will this really motivate citizens to collect and share data in the long-run? Given that scientists are frequently in the treadmill of a “publish or perish” culture, thinking about ways how to give citizens something back for their effort is not a top priority nor done with malice aforethought. Yet, it is important to change perception and not seeing it as a “waste of time”.
A good example of a balanced “give and take” approach can be found in the detection of traffic congestion by navigation systems. While algorithms repurpose geo-location data that is grabbed from our phones or GPS devices for identifying traffic jams, we also receive rerouting options in return. Having a lifecycle view, as illustrated in Fig.1, is key in order that
citizens remain motivated to participate and willing to share their data. We are aware that this is not always equally easy to implement. However, we would like to bring into attention that it is, nevertheless, crucial to give it a try.

Key readings
Batty, M. (2013). “Big Data, Smart Cities and City Planning.” Dialogues in Human Geography 3 (3), 274-279.

Eitzel, M. V. et al., (2017). “Citizen Science Terminology Matters: Exploring Key Terms.” Citizen Science: Theory and Practice 2 (1), e1.

Guenduez, A. A., Mettler, T. and Schedler, K. (2018). Citizen Participation in Smart Government: A Conceptual Model and Two IoT Case Studies. In: J. R. Gil-Garcia, T. A. Pardo and M. Gascó (Eds.), Beyond Smart and Connected Governments: Sensors and the Internet of Things in the Public Sector, Cham: Springer, forthcoming.

Nault Emilie (EPFL): Specific Environmentally-conscious Targets for Urban Planning (SETUP) – A method for informing the design decision-making process

presented in the session 2 of the speed talks (13:15-14:00)

POSTER IN PDF

Authors
Emilie Nault, EPFL, Switzerland
Thomas Jusselme, EPFL, Switzerland

Keywords
urban planning and design process, environmental performance objectives, decision-support, multi-criteria and multi-variant analysis

Abstract
With increasing awareness of the climate crisis, great attention is placed on the built environment due to its current weight in the global energy and carbon budget. Despite continuous progress notably in the energy efficiency of building envelopes, drastic improvements are still required to further minimize the environmental footprint our buildings have over their whole life.

In this context, various building labels and norms are setting evermore-ambitious environmental and energy targets. In parallel, a growing number of digital performance evaluation tools integrate a life-cycle assessment and allow verifying if a project, based on its detailed description, reaches these targets. However, such instruments are still largely left out of the urban planning and design stages, characterized by the ill-defined status of the project and the exploration and comparative assessment of multiple possible solutions.
Confronted to those conditions, existing tools often fall short given their limited guidance and inadequacy in dealing with the scarce amount of available information. We specifically observe a lack of tools that can allow converting a performance objective set at the urban level (e.g., 2000W society targets) into specific sublevel targets (e.g., per building or component), taking into account the site’s characteristics (e.g., climatic context).

The SETUP project aims at addressing these issues within the Swiss context through collaboration with practitioners having complementary roles in a district project under development and aiming to be low-carbon. Our goal is the elaboration of a novel method for enabling decision-makers to integrate environmental performance considerations from the masterplanning stage, and the implementation of this method into a prototype decision-support tool tailored to the site under study (blueFactory, Fribourg). Project partners include, in addition to academic researchers, an engineer, an urban designer/planner, the contracting authority (owner), a consultant in CO2 emissions reduction and a sustainability consultant from a major construction company.

The prototype consists in an Excel interface that connects to databases of pre-generated and pre-simulated design scenarios for distinct (in terms e.g., of solar exposure) zones on the site. The scenarios are generated by varying multiple parameters such as building shape, construction materials, heating system, and glazing ratio, and their primary energy, greenhouse gas emissions, and construction costs are evaluated.

The tool computes case-specific performance targets at different sub-site levels, which can serve as guidelines for the decision-making team. In addition, these targets can be related to concrete design choices to further inform on the means through which the objectives can be reached. By interacting with the databases and exploring the results, practitioners can also anticipate the share a given design option might take up in the total carbon budget set for the site. Such information can guide them toward choices that do not constrain the design freedom for downstream parameters, or compromise the potential of the district for reaching its objectives.

This research and development project shall highlight the potential added-value a digital tool can bring within a transdisciplinary framework, particularly when its development follows a user-centred approach attempting to connect and foster collaboration among complimentary key stakeholders.

Pagani Anna (EPFL): Agent-Based Modeling for studying the choices of households in Switzerland

presented in the session 2 of the speed talks (13:15-14:00)

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Authors
Anna Pagani, EPFL, ENAC, IIE, Laboratory for Human-Environment Relations in Urban Systems – HERUS, Switzerland
Claudia R. Binder, EPFL, ENAC, IIE, Laboratory for Human-Environment Relations in Urban Systems – HERUS, Switzerland

Keywords
housing; sustainability; decision-making process; system science; Agent-Based Model

Abstract
Housing plays a fundamental role in the transition towards a more sustainable society. In Switzerland, the unbalanced relationship between environmental, economic and social factors manifests itself in the current market trends of rental apartments, where data show a discrepancy between demand and supply. In fact, the impossibility for the supply to actively anticipate the change in tenants’ housing preferences often results in residential redistribution and new demand pressure.
In this context, we have identified the following gaps:

(i) Supply responds to the fast change in society (e.g., new family’s structure, lifestyles and
comfort levels) with short-term satisfactory solutions. However, their long-term impact leads to a mismatch with the future evolving demand. In fact, the lack of understanding of system dynamics often causes actors to react to the system’s outputs, and to neglect the structure responsible for a specific behavior. Understanding the system structure is key to recognizing patterns, and to propose sustainable solutions accordingly. Therefore, studying the way tenants make decisions concerning their residential mobility is fundamental to design scenarios based on the system’s dynamics and to provide support for policy-makers, practitioners and households.

(ii) Research on residential mobility and location choices is often fragmented in disciplinary silos, prioritizing the role played by housing characteristics (e.g., size, location, view) as determinants of decisions for the selection of a new dwelling. However, going beyond disciplinary fragmentation, housing function can be considered as the most crucial determinant of the system’s dynamics.

Considering the lack of interdisciplinary and systemic approaches to housing and the related difficulty of the sector to predict and adapt to changing needs while providing sustainable solutions, the research aims to develop a model representing the way households take decisions concerning their residential situation. This allows to evaluate and propose measures supporting the transition towards housing sustainability in Switzerland.
To fulfill this goal, a conceptual framework is developed, representing the factors influencing tenants’ decisions to move and where to move. From the framework, decision-making rules are derived, which allow for developing an Agent-Based Model (ABM) simulating tenants’ relocation decisions. To run the model, quantitative data on buildings and households are gathered from the database of our three partners: the cooperatives SCHL and ABZ and the insurer and asset manager Swiss Mobiliar. With the support of the qualitative findings of two Group Discussions with our partners’ tenants in Vaud and Zurich, we will conduct a large survey. Its results will feed into the model allowing, together with the behavioral rules, for simulating the interplay between households and dwellings.

The Agent-Based Model of households’ residential decisions will feed an interdisciplinary collaborative model including social, economic and environmental factors as well as demand and supply requirements. The resulting baseline scenario will be used for the simulation of policy changes and the identification of new paths for the transition towards a more sustainable housing. These paths will be developed and assessed with a transdisciplinary approach involving our three partners and the Federal Housing Office, with the aim to propose a set of agreed policy recommendations for property owners as well as cantonal and federal authorities.

Pouri Maria J. (University of Zurich): Sustainability of the digital sharing economy: platforms for transdisciplinary research

presented in the session 2 of the speed talks (13:15-14:00)

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Authors
Maria J. Pouri, Department of Informatics, University of Zurich, Switzerland
Lorenz M. Hilty, Department of Informatics, University of Zurich, Switzerland; Technology and Society Lab, Empa Materials Science and Technology, Switzerland

Keywords
Information and communication technology, digitalization, sharing economy, platforms, transdisciplinary research

Abstract
Sharing has been a common form of access to resources in human societies. While sharing is as old as mankind, the ‘sharing economy’ is a phenomenon that advanced with digital information and communication technology (ICT), in particular the Internet, and came to the fore as a part of the digital transition. The proliferation of digital platforms and the increasing interest in participation in the sharing economy calls for a better understanding of the current trends and future course of digital sharing and its implications for sustainability. The present work introduces the intersection between “sustainability” and the “digital sharing economy” as a subject area that requires a transdisciplinary approach. The study of the digital sharing economy will inevitably require scholars and experts from manifold disciplines; this can encourage collaboration and knowledge co-production in achieving common understandings, joint approaches, and compatible solutions to tackle complex societal issues. In cases, society has been unable to perceive the changes brought by digital transition alongside its pace. This has led to limitations and deficiencies in projecting future trends and implications of digitalization for societies. Based on the ontological assumption of this work, all human interactions are in fact social practices; these practices shape society and in particular economic structures. This ontology has been also used in former studies on the impacts of the ICT applications on society and the environment in the normative context of sustainability, e.g. in the work of Hilty and Aebischer (2015). The conceptual framework proposed by Hilty and Aebischer, which we use as the analytical tool for our transdisciplinary approach, structures and analyzes the life-cycle effects, enabling effects, and structural effects (LES model) of digitalization. Therefore, our findings are drawn from the adoption of the LES model to address the interdisciplinary implications of the digital sharing economy, as one existing “use-case” of ICT, for the sustainability of the environment and societies. We found that the enabling effects of digital sharing for the various actors in production and consumption processes and the effects of sharing on sustainability requires investigation. The expected long-term structural changes resulting from these enabling impacts should be also considered with regard to their relevance for sustainability. From a structural change perspective, the digital sharing economy has promoted individual economic empowerment, but it has also raised some social and environmental concerns. In particular, it has been criticized for labour exploitation and its tendencies to create unequal access in communities, to create unregulated marketplaces and to promote unfair competition. Therefore, prominent considerations here would be towards creating and improving equal opportunities for fair distribution/competition for everyone in sharing markets. Institutions and related policies can speed up the digital transition towards sustainable development. For policy making with regard to digital sharing practices, it will be essential to define paradigms that support sustainable, collaborative production and consumption with respect to planetary boundaries.

Reference
Hilty L.M. and Aebischer, B. “ICT for Sustainability: An Emerging Research Field,” in ICT Innovations for Sustainability, L. M. Hilty and B. Aebischer, Eds. Springer International Publishing, 2015, pp. 3–36.

Matzler, K., Veider, V. and Kathan, W., 2015. Adapting to the sharing economy. MIT Sloan Management Review, 56(2), p.71.

Pouri M.J., Hilty, L.M.: Conceptualizing the Digital Sharing Economy in the Context of Sustainability. Sustainability, Special Issue on Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for Sustainability, 2018, submitted.

Providoli Isabelle (University of Bern): Fostering transdisciplinarity in global research networks through digital means – potentials and challenges

presented in the session 1 of the speed talks (13:15-14:00)

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Authors
Isabelle Providoli, Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern, Switzerland (corresponding author)
Theresa Tribaldos, Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern, Switzerland
Ariane de Bremond, Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern, Switzerland
Albrecht Ehrensperger, Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern, Switzerland
Flurina Schneider, Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern, Switzerland

Keywords
Cyberinfrastructure, global research networks, sustainability solutions, global land programme

Abstract
Science is confronted with the demand to produce knowledge that addresses the complex and increasingly global sustainability problems of our time. Large international research networks such as Future Earth and its core projects and partners aim to foster such knowledge production through network building and encouragement of inter- and transdisciplinary research and collaboration. It is in the nature of such global research networks that their members are spread out around the world, and that face-to-face interactions are often not feasible for reasons of time, money and general sustainability questions. Here, digital means offer great opportunities for connecting people and engaging them in different co-production activities.

In this poster, we illustrate how digitalisation is applied by the Global Land Programme (GLP), one of the global research projects of Future Earths, in supporting co-production in transdisciplinary research. Digital means are especially useful for network and community building but they can also serve to encourage inter- and transdisciplinary research and collaboration. For better understanding how transdisciplinary research can be facilitated through digital means, it is important to reflect on processes within this research while considering potentials and limitations.

In 2016, GLP started to build a new cyberinfrastructure that serves as a knowledge management system for the GLP community. Within a comprehensive webpage (www.glp.earth), the system offers manifold tools for knowledge management, exchange, and collaboration of community members on various research topics. Furthermore, it represents a communication channel for outcomes to a larger public. More specifically, a GLP member database has been built for fostering exchange within the research community and member data is used in the GLP science-policy interface, which links land systems scientists to societal actors and policy makers (https://glp.earth/find-scientist) for action-oriented projects. The GLP webpage is organised in relation to the Working Groups, Nodal Offices, Contributing Projects, and Fellows. It highlights recent work, introduces current members (cross-linked with the scientist database), and enables communications between a wide range of actors interested in land topics. The GLP co-production virtual working group has started in 2018. It offers a series of free and open webinars in which members of the GLP community (scientists and societal partners alike) can present and exchange on transdisciplinary research methods, approaches, and experiences and connect and plan for future co-produced activities.

Preliminary results of the GLP cyberinfrastructure show the potential for connecting a multitude of actors across the globe and for engaging in in-depth discussion on co-production activities. However, more reflexion is needed for pushing exchange processes further into more action-oriented approaches that really support transformation processes towards sustainable development. Regardless of digital opportunities, face-to-face interactions are still key for trust building and often stand at the beginning of digital interaction processes. Furthermore, the constant flow of digital information and the capacity of people to absorb it represent a limitation of digital possibilities, which should not be neglected.

Psikuta Agnes (Empa): Comprehensive modelling of human-clothing-environment system for application in apparel, indoor environment, automotive and urban climate fields

presented in the session 2 of the speed talks (13:15-14:00)

Authors
Agnes Psikuta, Empa, Switzerland
Simon Annaheim, Empa, Switzerland
René Rossi, Empa, Switzerland

Keywords
human thermoregulation, thermal sensation, clothing model, body movement

Abstract
As technology has advanced the increasing pressure on energy usage reduction and expectations of consumers regarding comfort and safety have made the requirements posed on clothing and control of the indoor climate more demanding. These goals, in turn, require advanced and reliable analytical methods that can faithfully relate to the human thermo-physiological behaviour and sensational perception.

Over the past two decades, we have been developing and enhancing simulation tools for human thermoregulation and thermal manikins at Empa. Recent advances in computation technologies have facilitated computer simulation of sophisticated human thermo-physiological regulation mechanisms at high spatial and temporal resolution. This high level of details and accuracy is particularly important in medical applications, since, for example, thermal therapies critically depend on controlling the local as well as whole-body temperature to optimize efficacy and safety. Secondly, global and local thermal sensation models that we validated are necessary for assessing transient and non-uniform conditions, e.g. resulting from the use of new heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems, or conditioning of passenger spaces in automotive sector. Improvements in manufacturing techniques and control strategies have resulted in the development of highly sophisticated thermal manikins that we could successfully link with human thermoregulation models.

On the side of clothing modelling, the development of the realistic clothing model closed the research gap in textile and apparel science by addressing the non-uniform heat, vapour and liquid water transfer, which can be controlled by purposeful adjustment of clothing fit influencing the contact between surfaces and the shape of the air layers trapped within clothing. The air layer distribution in clothing is obtained from 3D fashion design software programs creating virtual, true-to life garment visualization and being validated by qualitative and quantitative comparison to 3D scanned actual garments. These programs offer prompt results of clothing draping not only for variety of body morphologies but also during body movement that both have thermal consequences for the wearer. A realistic clothing model is a necessity for human thermoregulation models since majority of the simulations concern dressed humans.

Presently, the interdisciplinary studies are undertaken to integrate the knowledge from the thermal physiology field into other applied sciences dedicated to the human well-being such as clothing, automotive, indoor environmental engineering and urban climate research. The contemporary challenges in these fields, such as the increasing pressure on energy usage reduction and expectations of consumers regarding comfort, flexible open plan or multi-use office and industrial spaces entailing the development of new concepts of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC), and new protective and functional apparel to ensure health, safety, thermal comfort and productivity of users, can be successfully supported by these novel and sophisticated tools.

Key readings
Mert E, Psikuta A, Arévalo M, Charbonnier C, Luible-Bär Ch, Bueno M-A, Rossi RM. A validation methodology and application of 3D garment simulation software to determine the distribution of air layers in garments during walking. Measurement 117 (2018) 153–164.

Koelblen B, Psikuta A, Bogdan A, Annaheim S, Rossi RM. Thermal sensation models: Validation and sensitivity towards thermo-physiological parameters. Building and Environment 130 (2018) 200–211.

Psikuta A, Allegrini J, Koelblen B, Bogdan A, Annaheim S, Martínez N, Derome D, Carmeliet J, Rossi RM. Thermal manikins controlled by human thermoregulation models for energy efficiency and thermal comfort research – A review. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 78 (2017) 1315–1330.

Schilling Thorsten (EPFL): Mental modelling as a tool to uncover conceptions about societal effects of transdisciplinary sustainability research

presented in the session 1 of the speed talks (13:15-14:00)

Authors
Thorsten Schilling, EPFL Lausanne, Switzerland
Claudia R. Binder, EPFL Lausanne, Switzerland

Keywords
Mental models, societal effects, sustainability

Abstract
Facilitating societal change is of the key elements of transdisciplinary sustainability research (TSR). However, previous attempts to identify or measure societal effects of TSR revealed several challenges, such as long delays between research projects and the emergence of societal effects or unclear cause-effect allocations of a plethora of causes (of which the research project might be only one) to the resulting effects. Consequently, measuring societal effects ex-post is a highly difficult (and in some cases impossible) task. To nonetheless address this fundamental feature of TSR research, we need to find ways to identify the transformative potential of TSR for their intended societal effects. This requires an ex-ante perspective that focuses on both, the TSR project and the corresponding practice context, in which the intended societal effects are supposed to take place.

In a meta-study on five ongoing TSR projects with the goal to improve our understanding about the transformative potential of TSR projects, we specifically focused on uncovering conceptions about factor-output-effect relations that are perceived as supportive or hindering for the intended societal effects. Therefore, we combined causal-loop based mental modelling with a document analysis of the project proposals and semi-structured interviews with scientific project leaders and selected practice actors for each project. In a first explorative interview with the project leaders and the corresponding proposal analysis, we identified the planned outputs and the indented societal effects for each project. Then, we added the relations between the outputs and the societal effects that were explicitly or implicitly mentioned in our data and additionally looked for statements about further influence factors for the intended societal effects. In doing so, we focused on factors related the project itself (e.g. participatory methods) and on factors related to the practice context of the project (e.g. political resistances). The results led to a systemic understanding of factor-output-effect relations for each project that was displayed in the form of a causal-loop model (using the software “VenSim”). Then, we conducted a second round of interviews with the project leaders to validate, adapt and extend the models in a participatory modelling exercise. Therefore, we presented the models to the project leaders, discussed their structure and feedbacks, and directly adapted it in the software together with the interviewees. In a next step, we presented a reduced version of the revised model (only outputs and intended societal effects; no further influence factors) to a selected practice actor for each project with the goal to capture their perceptions about (primarily practice-context related) factors that could potentially influence the intended societal effects of the respective project. Eventually we combined the practice perspective with the mental model of the project leader, which led to an integrated model for each project.

We build on our experience with the meta-study to (critically) reflect on our methodological procedure and point out, how mental modelling can be a valuable tool to identify, communicate, discuss and evaluate conceptions about societal effects within TDR projects.

Sousa Fernando (Research Institute of Organic Agriculture): Information technologies as a tool for agricultural extension and farmer to-farmer exchange: Mobile-phone video use in Mali and Burkina Faso

presented in the session 1 of the speed talks (13:15-14:00)

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Authors
Fernando Sousa, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, Switzerland
Gian Nicolay, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, Switzerland
Robert Home, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, Switzerland

Keywords
Information and communication technology (ICT), mobile phone, video, agriculture development, rural extension, farmer-to-farmer exchange, Africa

Abstract
Mobile phones are widespread in the rural areas of Mali and Burkina Faso, but their potential as a tool for knowledge transfer by extension services in the region remains largely unexplored. The aim of this contribution is to evaluate the potential of video on mobile phones as a tool for farmer-to-farmer exchange and agricultural extension in Western Africa’s rural reality. This aim was addressed by interviewing 460 farmers in Mali and Burkina Faso. Third generation (3G) mobile phones with video and Bluetooth technology were found to be widespread in the study area. Furthermore, videos on 3G phones were found to have a high frequency of contact and a high information utility. The participating farmers reported that 3G phones are readily accessible: including to people who had previously had limited access to other information sources, such as young women.

In a second phase, three videos showing agricultural innovations were shown and shared with 200 farmers in twelve villages in Mali. The villages were revisited 10 months later and farmers were asked about their experiences with the videos that had been shared and their previous knowledge of the innovations shown in them. It was found that participating farmers had shared the videos on their phones with an average of 5.9 other farmers, and had shown the videos to an average of 9.9 other farmers. Of the farmers who had watched one of the videos (N=148), 60.1% had adopted at least one of the videos’ innovations.

The use of video on mobile phones is a novel approach to farmer-to-farmer exchange and has tremendous potential for enhancing dissemination programs or specific research and development projects to enable more resilient, inclusive and democratic systems. Video based information is particularly advantageous to illiterate farmers, and has potential to transform the typically top-down nature of information flow from extension agents. In this case, the farmers hold ownership of video based information, which thereby extends its outreach. These findings allow the conclusion that video on mobile phones could contribute to transforming and amplifying extension efforts and thereby enable the necessary intensification of land use, while also enabling more resilient, inclusive and democratic farming systems.

Wülser Gabriela (td-net, Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences): td-net’s Online Toolbox for Co-producing Knowledge

presented in the session 1 of the speed talks (13:15-14:00)

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Authors
Gabriela Wülser, td-net, Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences, Switzerland
Christian Pohl, USYS TdLab, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Theres Paulsen, td-net, Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences, Switzerland

Keywords
Inter- and transdisciplinary methods, online toolbox, knowledge co-production, heterogeneous groups, science-practice interface

Abstract
The td-net’s toolbox (www.transdisciplinarity.ch/toolbox) is an open access online compilation of currently 15 methods and tools for co-producing knowledge in inter- and transdisciplinary research processes.

It was developed in consultation with core players in inter- and transdisciplinarity internationally to address the increasing demand for knowhow on how to master inter- and transdisciplinary research processes. Systematic ways for addressing conceptual and practical challenges that come along with combining scientific research with societal problem solving are increasingly asked for. While support for transdisciplinary research is growing, systematic compilations of specific methods and tools for co-producing knowledge in heterogeneous groups as part of research processes are still rare. Td-net’s toolbox seeks to fill this gap.

Inter- and transdisciplinary research processes are not trivial: In addition to knowledge of different sorts, also worldviews and expectations on roles and outcomes differ between researchers from the natural, social and medical sciences, the humanities, as well as across members of civil society, the public and the private sector. The toolbox offers methods to uncover underlying worldviews and expectations in order to facilitate mutual understanding, joint learning, knowledge production and solution finding among various experts and stakeholders, among other things. Examples of tools are:

  • Actor constellation: A role-play for jointly sorting out the relevance of various involved actors for tackling a specific research question
  • Give-and-take matrix: A tool for identifying pieces of knowledge to be shared between parts of inter- and transdisciplinary projects.
  • Three types of knowledge tool: A tool for tailoring research questions to (societal) knowledge demands.
The toolbox is a digital resource of detailed method and tool descriptions that can be more or less readily used. The method profiles are complemented by information on further reading and reports on how the method is being used. The descriptions consider the fact that knowledge co-production processes and teams vary in type, participants, size, structure, goals, degrees of integration, and the mix of forms of knowledge. The methods and tools in td-net’s toolbox differ in various ways. They for example relate to a whole knowledge co-production process or to single specific smaller steps in it. And they differ in how elaborated and formalised they are as well as in terms of the type and diversity of thought collectives they address.

To develop the toolbox further, td-net is currently implementing a structure linking challenging situations researchers might encounter in inter- and transdisciplinary research processes to appropriate methods. Via such situations (e.g. "Involved experts disagree on strategies for solving a problem or answers to a key question. We would like to collect and weigh the underlying arguments and rationales."), users will be guided to one or several possible methods to apply. At the same time, td-net plans to expand the toolbox to a portal to enter a bigger world of useful methods through establishing specific links to other online resources – including, but not limited to method collections from other fields such as organisational development or mediation.

We believe that while providing online tools is a useful service to the community, many facets of leading inter- and transdisciplinary processes can only be taught and learnt through personal experience. Thus, digital resources are a necessary, but not sufficient means to convey knowhow on knowledge co-production.

Key reading
Pohl, C. & Wülser, G. (in press). New Directions Spotlight: Methods for Coproduction of Knowledge. In Advancing Social and Behavioral Health Research through Cross-Disciplinary Team Science: Principles for Success. (Eds K. Hall, A. L. Vogel and R. T. Croyle). Springer.

Xexakis Georgios (University of Geneva): Are Interactive Web-Tools for Public Engagement Worth the Effort? An Experimental Study on Energy Transition


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Authors
Georgios Xexakis (corresponding author) (1,2), Evelina Trutnevyte (1,2), Léon Hirt (1)

(1) Renewable Energy Systems group, Faculty of Science, Department F.-A. Forel for Environmental and Aquatic Sciences, Institute for Environmental Sciences, University of Geneva, Switzerland
(2) Institute for Environmental Decisions, Department of Environmental Systems Science, ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Keywords
interactive web-tool; digital participation; electricity generation; technology impacts; usability evaluation

Abstract
Interactive web-tools are often regarded as powerful digital methods to familiarize and engage the public with complex problems in various scientific fields. Since they offer many opportunities for two-way communication between scientists, stakeholders and the public, these tools can also have great potential for inter- and transdisciplinary learning and research. Nevertheless, including interactivity is much more resource-consuming than traditional methods and, in some cases, may even complicate communication. Although studies exist on how to assess interactive web-tools, there is little empirical evidence whether they can be more effective, in comparison with static methods. We studied this in an experimental design survey with non-experts in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. We used the Swiss electricity supply scenarios for 2035 and their environmental, health, and economic impacts as a case study. We conducted a between-groups experiment online (N=313 total), where the two experimental groups differed in the format of scenario information they received: (1) an interactive web-tool that we have developed as an interface for exploring a large database of electricity supply scenarios and their impacts, and (2) a static website presenting four distinct electricity supply scenarios with their impacts only. We compared the two groups in terms of (a) understanding, (b) engagement and (c) perceived trust of information. The two groups of respondents were representative of the population in gender, age, and education level and with comparable previous experience with the energy subject, website navigation skills, and numeracy. We found that the interactive condition did not lead to a perceived advantage over the static one, as there were no statistically significant differences between the two groups in self-reported understanding, engagement and trust of the information. In fact, it seems that the interactive web-tool may even complicated the usability because we observed that the interactive web-tool’s users scored statistically significantly worse than the users in the static condition, when they had to answer a quiz that required to extract information from the scenarios. These results indicate that the interactive web-tools do not come automatically with the benefits claimed in the literature or believed by experts. More empirical research is needed to understand which formats meet the needs and abilities of the intended users.

Key reading
Mayer, L.A., Bruine De Bruin, W., Morgan, M.G., 2014. Informed public choices for low-carbon electricity portfolios using a computer decision tool. Environ. Sci. Technol. 48, 3640–3648.

Zinsstag Jakob (Swiss TPH Universität Basel / td-net): Swiss tdMOOC – exemplary illustration of co-production in innovative teaching and learning

presented in the session 1 of the speed talks (13:15-14:00)

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Authors (alphabetical order)
Prof. Dr. Jakob Zinsstag, Swiss TPH Universität Basel / td-net (corresponding author)

Tobias Buser, MA, td-net
Dr. Lisa Crump, Swiss TPH, University of Basel
Prof. Dr. Christine Künzli, Pädagogische Hochschule FHNW
Dr. Jon-Andri Lys, Commission for Research Partnerships with Developing Countries KFPE
Theres Paulsen, td-net
Dr. Christian Pohl, USYS TdLab, ETH Zurich
Prof. Dr. Stephan Rist, CDE, University of Bern
PD Dr. Flurina Schneider, CDE, University of Bern
Eveline Steinger, Pädagogische Hochschule Zug and Member KFPE
Dr. Ulrike Sturm, M.A., Hochschule Luzern
Prof. Dr. Susan Thieme, GIUB, University of Bern
Didier Wernli, MD MA, Global Studies Institute, University of Genève

Keywords
MOOC, social learning, co-production in teaching

Abstract
Switzerland is highly regarded internationally for scientific transdisciplinary research. This expertise encompasses diverse educational programmes, with broadly different emphases and teaching priorities. While a rich body of relevant recently acquired knowledge exists, encompassing both transdisciplinary theory and methodology, this remains fragmented across numerous Swiss faculties and academies. Digitalisation provides a unique leverage point to increase student access and facilitate curricular integration, creating value and extending reach equitably across the higher education landscape in Switzerland and globally.

A partnership brings together td-net, the Commission for Research Partnerships with Developing Countries, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, the Swiss Universities of Basel, Bern and Geneva, the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, University for Teacher Education Zug and Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts Luzern, to produce a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). Swiss university students of all levels from all departments, along with international students, researchers, professionals, and teachers, are the targeted participants. The MOOC format combines simplicity and creativity to “tell an interesting story” and provoke conversation through social learning between and amongst learners and educators. The MOOC concept and its content are designed through intense - and predominantly analogue - co-production processes by experts of the above-mentioned institutes.

The course presents transdisciplinary research as a living experience. With a basis on sound theoretical and methodological background, five outstanding projects illustrate promising different ways of dealing with complex societal challenges. The projects address a) health care situation of pastoralists in remote areas, b) water scarcity in the Alps, c) change processes in a mountain village driven by international tourism investors, d) labor migration, and e) global governance in relation to antimicrobial resistance. Starting from these challenges, the course will take learners on a journey through the main phases and steps of transdisciplinary research projects. Some of the important questions along the trajectory are: 1) how are the project and its goals framed, 2) what actors are important and which should be involved, 3) what forms of knowledge are important, 3) how can scientists from different disciplines and societal actors interact to co-produce relevant knowledge, 4) what ethical considerations arise regarding research partnerships, 5) in what ways do such projects have societal and scientific impact, 6) what are potential challenges and pitfalls, and 7) what could knowledge co-production mean for you, your work, your career?

This MOOC is anticipated to available in late 2019 and consists of six modules (“weeks”) totaling 30 hours’ workload for students. Each module consists of a mix of pedagogic formats, including videos, audios, articles, discussions and quizzes. The interactive social aspect is a main focus, with all steps designed to work on various electronic devices, including smart phones, which facilitates enhanced connection between and engagement of disparate learners. All material, except the interactive parts, will be available year round and can be integrated in lectures, courses, and self-studies. Throughout the design and production of this MOOC we are challenged and motivated by the question: how can we most appropriately teach co-productive ways of research using digital means to reach a wide range of target audiences spread across the world and still enable co-productive, reflective ways of learning?

This project will raise the profile of transdisciplinarity in Switzerland and globally by increasing learner access through a virtual classroom and a digital curriculum. Transdisciplinary concepts and processes combined with transformative research oriented to social problems involving communities, politics and practice are introduced with a focus on the quality of co-production of knowledge.

In collaboration with


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