The need for transdisciplinary research is high: solutions to societal challenges such as climate protection, mobility transition or resource conservation require a special approach that takes the complexity of the problems into account. This is what transdisciplinary research stands for by aiming to overcome disciplinary scientific boundaries and furthermore enabling cooperation between science and society. Its goal: to create joint options for shaping the future.
Sustainability research -- including that done by ISOE -- has been benefiting from this research mode since the 1990s. As a special feature, it involves different actors and stakeholders in the research process and can thus take various forms of knowledge into account. Through the inclusion of participants from science, civil society, politics and business, complex problems can be examined scientifically from many different angles and that way practicable solutions can be developed.
Founding of tdAcademy as a response to the increasing demand for transdisciplinary research
Since 2020, tdAcademy, initiated by ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Zentrum Technik und Gesellschaft (ZTG) at Technische Universität Berlin and Öko-Institut, has offered a platform for transdisciplinary research and the research community. “We are pleased that with tdAcademy we were able to create a place that enables the networking of researchers and contributes to the further development, dissemination and quality assurance of transdisciplinary methods, concepts and competences,” says Alexandra Lux, who is co-spokesperson for the project together with Martina Schäfer from ZTG on 1 June 2023. Alexandra Lux is a transformation researcher at ISOE and was already project manager of “TransImpact” – a predecessor project from which the tdAcademy 2020 emerged.
After the successful founding of the Fachgesellschaft für transdisziplinäre und partizipative Forschung e. V. (GTPF) in May, which came about largely at the initiative of tdAcademy and its group of partners, the tdAcademy 2 project team will address the growing demand for transdisciplinary research in four topic lines. “We see an increasing demand for specific process competence and knowledge concerning the interrelationships of the transdisciplinary research mode,” says Alexandra Lux. The research work of tdAcademy 2, which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in the Social-Ecological Research funding priority, specifically addresses this development.
tdAcademy 2: Strengthening the impact of transdisciplinary sustainability research
The work at tdAcademy takes place, among others, in the two subject areas of societal impacts and scientific impacts – effects and interrelationships that have hardly been studied to date. In addition to impact research, another topic line also aims to systematically understand the contextual conditions for transdisciplinary research. Finally, in a fourth topic line, the team addresses new integrative research formats and the question of how these can contribute to transdisciplinary research. “Overall, the focus of the second phase of tdAcademy is to better understand what kind of interfaces arise between the topic lines and where synergies and contradictions occur. In this context, the question will be dealt with whether achieving societal impact is always at odds with scientific effectiveness,” Lux explains. The partners in the second phase of tdAcademy, i.e. ISOE, ZTG, Öko-Institut and Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS) at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) are jointly investigating these interfaces.
Participation in the community is open to all transdisciplinary researchers, and here young researchers from the global South and North are also explicitly invited to join. In order to specifically involve interested relevant actors from transdisciplinary research in the work of tdAcademy, a guest and fellowship program is available, which is financed by the Robert Bosch Stiftung. This gives participants the opportunity to help develop innovative approaches and ideas, discuss new developments in transdisciplinary research, write publications or position papers (either individually or in groups), expand their network as well as exchange experiences, and present their research to the international community.
For more information about tdAcademy, please visit: https://td-academy.org/en/home/