JOINING FORCES FOR CHANGE
10-13 September 2019, Gothenburg, Sweden
Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).
More than teaching - Transdisciplinary capacity building II
Conceptual and Methodological Advances in Transdisciplinary Team Science Training
1University of Central Florida; 2College of William & Mary; 3University of Virginia; 4Virginia Commonwealth University
Solving today's most challenging societal problems requires innovative, integrated breakthroughs and novel solutions that transcend individual disciplines, reaching a deeper level of knowledge integration. However, achieving such integration through team science is challenging due to the lack of adequate training to develop such outcomes. To address this, methods from allied disciplines need to be adapted for use in training future transdisciplinary researchers. This presentation, aligned with the “methodological innovation” stream, discusses a research project focused on coastal resilience in the Chesapeake Bay region of the USA as its “site for change”. It brings together a multidisciplinary team of scholars from the College of William & Mary Virginia Institute of Marine Science, the University of Virginia Environmental Resilience Institute, the Cognitive Sciences program at the University of Central Florida, and Virginia Commonwealth University.
First, to help universities promote collaborative learning, a team of faculty coaches was recruited to guide a class of diverse doctoral and master's students from the natural and physical coastal, marine and environmental sciences, engineering, design, and social and economic sciences. Second, to develop and test different types of transdisciplinary pedagogies, a series of workshops was developed to train students on the fundamentals of team science as well as collaborative knowledge building on complex transdisciplinary problems. Here, we emphasize the development of conceptual models that are capable of capturing system level problems as well as integrating diverse disciplinary perspectives. Third, to foster individual and team learning, an intervention focusing on reflection in teamwork processes is used to ensure students monitor both the task of transdisciplinary problem solving, as well as the teamwork processes engaged while collaborating.
In combination, graduate students are introduced to the principles of team science, collaborative problem solving, and effective self-reflective tools and strategies. Additionally, students gain experience working with coastal community partners (e.g., municipalities, NGOs). As such, this community-based climate-resilience project enables students to practice team science research and use reflective practices to improve their competencies with various stakeholders. Assessment of team processes, along with reflections on teamwork and taskwork was used iteratively in order to highlight areas of collaboration needing improvement.
Our project is designed to improve understanding of how to nurture self-reflective competencies in the short-term and build capacity for team science research that will enhance students' careers over the long term. Specifically, our goals are to: (1) give a new generation of scientists and policy-makers the knowledge and critical skills they need to work together effectively to find solutions to complex coastal issues that are important to the citizens of Virginia, the nation, and coastal communities around the globe; (2) provide an opportunity for graduate students to work with stakeholders on complex interdisciplinary collaborative problem solving and learn how to work as a team across disciplines; and, (3) provide collaborative institutions an unprecedented opportunity to partner and bring together multi-disciplinary faculty teams to train students using innovative workshops focused on community-based coastal resilience issues. Initial findings will be reported, including differences between reflections on teamwork and on taskwork, and the particular challenges graduate student participants faced when working on complex problems.
Challenge Lab – A strategic approach for transdisciplinary university-society interaction to navigate sustainability transitions
Chalmers University of Technology
Challenge Lab is a space and process for strategic transdisciplinary university-society interaction to navigate sustainability transitions. It creates space for studets from different master programs and cultural backgrounds to learn, exercise and develop leadership for sustainability transitions in multi-stakeholder settings. The students apply a backcasting-from-principles methodology and related tools including values-clarification, dialogue, systems thinking and entrepreneurship.
The basic idea with Challenge Lab is that students have unique capabilities to bring stakeholders together, build trust and create conditions for sustainability-driven innovation. The students do so in the four main steps of (1) framing conditions for a sustainable future on a level of principles, (2) analysing the present situation in relation to the principles to understand gaps and challenges in the tension present-future, (3) identifying leverage point interventions in the gap, and (4) create strategies for realising the leverage point interventions. The leverage point interventions are often identified as complex ’in-between questions’ in relation to the sustainability challenges, that no actor in society can govern through their own activities. The students can in these in-between spaces play a neutral role and bring stakeholders together representing a diversity of perspectives. Further, students are often motivated and enthusiastic about moving issues forward, are eager to change and hosts a curiosity that spills over on the involved actors. In previous research we have been able to identify that students engaging in Challenge Lab develop unique sustainability transition leadership capabilities while also creating value in society.
This presentation will provide (1) an overview of the Challenge Lab methodology, including (i) its way of contributing to sustainability transitions in society; (ii) its ’whole-of-university’ approach positioning it as an integrator of main university functions of research, education and utilization, and; (iii) its way of bringing students from different disciplines and backgrounds together. This will be followed by (2) an overview of students’ and stakeholders’ learning experiences and design considerations from two cases currently working with the Challenge Lab methodology, being (a) Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg around local and regional sustainability challenges related to mobility, food/health, and energy/materials.
Transdisciplinary pathways for systemic change in Small Island Developing States – lessons learned in a Sustainability Learning Lab in the Seychelles
TdLab, Dept. Environmental Systems Science of ETH Zurich
Small Island Developing States (SIDS) like the Seychelles face a number of economic, social and environmental challenges. They are small in size and remote; often comprising a huge number of islands spread over a large sea area, that is difficult to manage; particularly vulnerable to climate change effects such sea level rise; highly dependent on the international markets and vulnerable to economic shocks; and often lack the capacity and the resources to properly manage basic issues such as e.g., waste management. Therefore, sustainable development is crucial to the Seychelles and is emphasized in many significant official documents written in the Seychelles.
To understand and promote sustainable development in the Seychelles, the Transdisciplinarity Lab (TdLab) at ETH Zurich, the University of Seychelles (UniSey), and the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change (MEECC) developed a collaboration in teaching and research. The three partners decided to start their joint activities with transdisciplinary case studies (tdCS) on solid waste management (SWM) which poses a significant challenge for the Seychelles. Master’s and bachelor’s theses, internships, and local courses would complement tdCS activities at a later stage.
The case study was developed as a joint research-based teaching activity of the TdLab and the Environmental Sciences Program at UniSey. For UniSey (BSc level), the case study is a placement provision, giving students the opportunity to conduct field research while for ETH master’s students it is an elective 7 ECTS course to learn how to tackle and solve a complex real-world problem. The two tdCS in 2016 and 2018 provide a comprehensive overview of the current SWM system, potential strategies to reduce waste and options for a future waste management system. Students intensively engaged with a huge number of stakeholders from the public and private sectors as well as civil society. An Advisory Board of local experts guided students throughout their studies. In total, more than 500 locals were directly involved as interview partners, experts, workshop participants, survey participants, etc. Regular media presence in local newspapers informed the public at large about the research activities and two scientific reports after intensive discussions were handed over to the Minister of MEECC (see Lai et al., 2016; Krütli et al., 2018). These studies are used by corresponding administrations, and form a solid data base for the design and implementation of upcoming waste management strategies such as for example waste-to-energy. First actions based on our studies have already been taken and study results will directly feed into a solid waste master plan.
Reflecting on now four years in existence of our sustainability learning lab in the Seychelles (see Krütli et al., 2018), we see that agreements of collaboration form the formal backbone of the collaboration. They envisage a variety of possible engagements. However, crucial insight is that a long-term engagement form ETH Zurich is indispensable because capacity and personnel resources to implement what many studies suggest are widely lacking. Accordingly, the support of decision makers and administration in their implementation activities by regular formal and informal events such as workshops, consultancy, master’s and bachelor’s theses, internships, and expertise is needed. This reflects a fundamental paradigm shift of current research approaches which very often end when analysis has been done. We discuss our own experiences by contrasting them with the principles for transboundary research partnerships as stipulated by the Swiss Commission for Research Partnerships with Developing Countries (KFPE 2012).
Our sustainability learning lab, a platform to analyze, test, implement and monitor sustainable solutions, is now well underway and frames various future activities in sustainability related field such as conservation, transport, agriculture, tourism, and planning.
Transdisciplinary learning: Exploring and testing different pedagogical approaches in a transdisciplinary learning context
1University of Gothenburg; 2Mistra Urban Futures
The recent explosion of journal articles, books and conferences bears witness to the increasing popularity of transdisciplinarity (TD) approaches within participatory approaches to making science more accountable to the challenges of sustainability. This popularity rests upon the assumption that ‘wicked’ problems require new types of knowledge production that can harness a diversity of knowledge and expertise, a plurality of values and needs from the problem context, as well as facilitate the implementation of possible solutions. What types of knowledge and skills do participants need to live up to such assumptions? This paper presents an analysis of a PhD course that was given at Mistra Urban Futures in 2018-2019. This course focused on the knowledge and skills that are needed both when participating in TD projects as well as when initiating or leading them. The course was designed as a transdisciplinary course in that it targeted both practitioners and PhD students, and their respective needs when participating in TD projects. The course developed a TD-pedagogy as a space organised for different types of TD learning situations. These situations include learning across disciplines and knowledge cultures (practitioners and academic), peer learning among PhD students and practitioners, learning across cultures of practice and ‘silos’, co-learning from practice-based case studies, student-teacher co-learning, and learning from real-life contexts and strategic documents. This paper presents the results from these learning spaces and places them in the wider context of sustainability related learning pedagogies.
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