td-conference 2008

Inter- and Transdisciplinary Problem Framing
> 27-28 November 2008, ETH Zurich, Switzerland

 
Programme & abstract booklet (pdf)

Theme
Inter- and transdisciplinary research comprises modes of research that in- tegrate information, data, techniques, tools, perspectives, concepts, and/or theories from two or more disciplines or other bodies of specialized know- ledge. “Interdisciplinary research” is often used as the umbrella term to denote integrative research that (i) advances fundamental understanding and (ii) contributes to problem solving in the knowledge society. In the European context – and speci cally in German-speaking countries – “transdisciplinary research” stands primarily for research that is driven by problem solving and that integrates perspectives from public agencies, the private sector and civil society in the research process.
Problem framing plays a crucial role in inter- and transdisciplinary re- search since identifying and structuring the problem and de ning research questions within an unstructured or pluralistically-viewed problem eld means to constrain the further analysis of the problem. The problem fram- ing constrains what can be captured by early detection strategies, what can be addressed by research and which problem-solving options are investi- gated and taken into consideration. The challenge of problem framing lies in the diversity of perspectives: The perspectives of researchers from dif- ferent disciplinary backgrounds (such as the natural or social sciences, the humanities or the engineering and medical sciences) as well as perspec- tives of actors from the private sector, civil society or public agencies. The task is to interrelate these various perspectives through the problem with- in a collective process. This task includes: making the disciplinary and life-world perspectives explicit; framing a joint or complementary under- standing of the problem; de ning research questions for a better under- standing of the problem or to help prevent or solve the problem.
How to adequately reveal and interrelate the diversity of perspectives in inter- and transdisciplinary problem framing is currently neither well un- derstood, nor are there widely shared methods to deal with the issue. There are, however, many researchers who have experienced and managed inter- and transdisciplinary problem framing in a learning-by-doing manner.
 
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