Generated by the Enjust working group on transdisciplinarity, the following resources are meant to support you in this exploration. Members of the group are: Judith Bopp, Jeanne Féaux de la Croix, Kathrin Eitel, Mennatullah Hendawy, Yvonne Kunz, Julia Rawlins and Juliane Schumacher. There are different ways of defining transdisciplinary practice. We understand it here as:
“…a reflexive research approach that addresses societal problems by means of interdisciplinary collaboration as well as the collaboration between researchers and extra-scientific actors; its aim is to enable mutual learning processes between science and society; integration is the main cognitive challenge of the research process.” (Source: Jahn, T., Bergmann, M. & Keil, F. (2012). Transdisciplinarity: Between mainstreaming and marginalization. Ecological Economics, 79, 1-10.)
To help you find what you are looking for, we have provided a brief comment on each featured resource. We have structured the resources below according to the following themes:
We conceived this as a living collection and welcome further resource suggestions and feedback via enjust(at)geographie.uni-kiel.de!
Harris, F. and Lyon, F. (2014). Transdisciplinary environmental research: a review of approaches to knowledge co-production. Nexus Network Think Piece Series, Paper 002.
>Writing from a background in the food, water and energy nexus in Africa, these authors review 76 publications on trans-disciplinary research and identifies common approaches and challenges. Working with practitioners, lay voices, and the public also challenges fundamental principles of scientific investigation. The authors lay out some concrete suggestions for successful transdisciplinarity.
Hirsch Hadorn, G., Hoffmann-Riem, H., Biber-Klemm, S., Grossenbacher-Mansuy, W., Joye, D., Pohl, C., Wiesmann, U., Zemp, E., eds. (2008). Handbook of Transdisciplinary Research. (Heidelberg: Springer).
>A classic exposition of transdisciplinarity, based in the social sciences. A systematizing approach, coining vocabulary.
Jahn, T., Bergmann, M. & Keil, F. (2012). Transdisciplinarity: Between mainstreaming and marginalization. Ecological Economics, 79, 1-10.
Funtowicz, Silvio O.; Ravetz, Jerome R. (1993). Science for the post-normal age. Futures 25 (7), 739–755. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/0016-3287(93)90022-L .
>The authors argue (quite optimistically) that in postmodern times (and against the background of new forms of ecological crises) a new (transdisciplinary) form of science is necessary.
Mittelstraß, Jürgen (2003). Transdisziplinarität. Wissenschaftliche Zukunft und institutionelle Wirklichkeit. Konstanz: UVK Univ.-Verl. (Konstanzer Universitätsreden, 214). (German)
>Basis introduction and definition of transdisciplinarity. Often referenced in the (german-speaking) debate on transdisciplinary.
Chettiparamb, Angelique (2007). Interdisciplinarity: a literature review. Hg. v. The Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning Group, Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies, School of Humanities, University of Southampton.
>A helpful literature review on interdisciplinarity (also covering aspects relevant for transdiscplinarity).
Renn, Ortwin (2021). Transdisciplinarity: Synthesis towards a modular approach. Futures 130, 102744. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.futures.2021.102744.
>Relatively recent article on transdisciplinary approaches and traditions with the suggestion of a new, modular approach.
2. Research literature (especially well-documented project examples)
Marin, F., 2017-18. On the Possibilities of Collaboration in the Valdés Peninsula: Fishers, Biologists, Anthropologists, and the Politics of Knowledge. Collaborative Anthropologies 10 (1-2), 124-141.
>An in-depth discussion of researching with artisanal fishermen in Argentina. The author discusses work with different groups, which are sometimes in open conflict with each other and reflects on the question of trust between collaborators, the limits of sharing methodologies and output goals.
Downey, Gary Lee & Teun Zuiderent-Jerak (2021). Making & Doing: Activating STS through Knowledge Expression and Travel. Cambridge, MA. The MIT press.
>A award-winning handbook that exhibit ten empirical making & doing projects that describe the advantages and pitfalls in doing transdisciplinary work, especially in the framework of STS. This book also shows how scholars themselves learn from their interlocutors and the settings in which they do and share their STS work. A coda explains how the infrastructures of STS scholarship are broadening to include practices of making & doing.
Oyinlola, M., Whitehead, T., Abuzeinab, A., Adefila, A., Akinola, Y., Anafi, F., Farukh, F., Jegede, O., Kandan, K., Kim, B., Mosugu, E. 2018. Bottle house: A case study of transdisciplinary research for tackling global challenges. Habitat International 79, 18-29. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.habitatint.2018.07.007.
>Case study on transdisciplinary collaboration in a user-centred implementation research for affordable sustainable housing in Nigeria, in which a team of experts (designers, architects, engineers, community members, local entrepreneurs) from UK and Nigeria worked with local entrepreneurs to build a prototype home.
Anbar, M. (1973), The “Bridge Scientist”and his Role. Research/Development, 30–34.
>Based on an empiric study of interdisciplinary cooperation in different laboratories. The paper argues that the success or failure of the cooperation depended to a high degree on the presence of ‘bridge scientists’, leaders or members of the research group able to translate between different disciplines or scientific traditions.
>Several interesting papers and reflection on the experience of a large transdisciplinary STS project in Vienna, including the institutional challenges (like short-term contracts and ever changing collaborators due to the academic funding structure)
Healy, H. (2019). A political ecology of transdisciplinary research. Journal of Political Ecology 26 (1), 500-528. https://doi.org/10.2458/v26i1.23245
>Based on an ex-post study of three European Union funded transdisciplinary projects (CREPE, EJOLT and GAP2), Healy argues that transdisciplinary research is always conducted on a terrain of political ecology, since issues of power and governance permeate those projects despite the most egalitarian of intentions.
3. Practical advice (how to transdis) e.g. handbooks
Rebecca Freeth, Facilitator
>Rebecca Freeth also appears as an author in this ressurce collection. She has been working as a dialouge facilitator in a project if EnJust members. She helps to design and faciliate transdisciplinary resarch projects, mainly in the context of sustainability. We encourage projects to seek the support of professionals like Rebecca. To be able to do so, this is the first step, informing you that there are people out there who are specialiszed in facilitating challenging collabaoration processes.
Merging of Knowledge (MOK), a facilitation technique for participatory research (see documents in folder ‘Method’) https://www.atd-fourthworld.org/what-we-do/participation/merging-knowledge/
>The method is useful for…
…transdisciplinary research that has ambition to acquire knowledge from and together with non-academic stakeholders which are in focus of the research, e.g. in ATD’s poverty research with people experiencing situations of poverty and social exclusion. It means to give those stakeholders an active role in the research (design, data collection, verification / implementation). That includes recognition of knowledge gained through their life experiences, as well as their potential to contribute to resolutions.
…practice-oriented research that aims at concrete interventions.
…reflecting one’s own role and position regarding the topic of research, especially as academic researcher or as professional.
Jolivette, J. A., ed. (2015). Research Justice: Methodologies for Social Change. Policy Press: Bristol.
Freeth, R., Canigila, G. (2020). Learning to collaborate while collaborating.: advancing interdisciplinary sustainability research. Sustainability Science (15), 247-261. DOI:
>The authors, based on experiences of an interdisciplinary project they were part of themselves, encourage us to give room to learning in collaboration. We do not autocratically know how to collaborate upon becoming part of a inter- or interdisciplinary project. Leaving our own comfort zones will be part of this process!
Clarke, L. and Freth, R. (2019). Embracing tension for energy and creativity in interdisciplinary research – Integration and Implementation Insights (i2insights.org)
>We are used to avoid tensions, by solving them or by making sure they do not even occur, This blog article encourages us to embrace tensions, to understand it is an indicator for something meaningful that can teach us rather than frustrate us.
Toolkit by Journal GAIA: https://www.oekom.de/_uploads_media/files/gaia_flyer_toolkits_032911.pdf
Practical Toolkit by Utrecht University: https://www.uu.nl/en/research/transdisciplinary-field-guide/methods-resources/practical-toolkit
4. Transdis critiques & failures, lessons learnt
Wehling, Peter (2022). Transdisziplinarität und Solutionismus. Ein verfehlter Vorwurf, aus dem sich trotzdem einiges lernen lässt. GAIA – Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society, 31(1), 19-23(5). https://doi.org/10.14512/gaia.31.1.6
Killian, C. (2017-2018). I would prefer not to: Dilemmas in Collaboration.
Collaborative Anthropologies 10 (1-2), 95-123.
>A personal reflection on an arts-based collaboration that did not end happily, and potential lessons from it.
Enigbokan, A. (2015). Work Ethics: On fair labour practices in a socially engaged art world. Art and the Public Sphere 4 (1+2), 11–22.
>Based on urban research in the Netherlands, a demanding discussion of how the benefits of collaboration are distributed, and how to take design fair labour practices.
Pohl, C., Krütli Pius, & Stauffacher, M. (2017). Ten reflective steps for rendering research societally relevant. Gaia – Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society, 26 (1), 43–51. https://doi.org/10.14512/gaia.26.1.1
Schmidt, L. & Neuburger, M. (2017). Trapped between privileges and precariousness: Tracing transdisciplinary research in a postcolonial setting. Futures 93, 54-67. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.futures.2017.07.005
>Using a case study from Southern Africa implementing inter- and transdisciplinarity in North-South constellation with the aim to reveal diverse power asymmetries that hamper mutual knowledge co-production. The authors analyse power imbalances in the research process regarding project setup, resource allocation, and stakeholder participation in project discourses, output, decision making. They observe that despite ambitions for inter- and transdisciplinarity, the project preserved traditional orders of postcolonial, hierarchical and academic knowledge. The authors remind about the social processes behind knowledge production which actually require constant self-reflection of positions of power as well as transformations of academic logics.
Schumacher, J. (2021). Zwischen Sprachen – zur persönlichen Interdisziplinarität. Sonderheft. Briefe zur Interdisziplinarität 02/2021. Oekom Verlag, München. https://www.zmo.de/en/publications/publication-search/zwischen-sprachen
>Empirical study and reflection on experiences of scientists working with inter- or transdisciplinary approaches; includes thoughts about how institutional structures support but also hamper these approaches.
5. Funding opportunities and assessment literature
BMBF (German ministry) stream on sozial-ökologische Forschung, emphasizes transdisciplinarity
Bergmann, M., Brohmann, B., Hoffmann, E., Loibl, M.E., Rehaag, R., Schramm, E., and Voß, J-P. (2005). Quality Criteria of Transdisciplinary Research: A Guide for Formative Evaluation of Research Projects. Central report of Evalunet – Evaluation Network for Transdisciplinary Research. Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Institute for Social-Ecological Research.
IssueLab (2020). Participatory Grantmaking. https://participatorygrantmaking.issuelab.org/
>The Lafayette Practice reviews the practice of participatory grant-making by significant donors, identifying benefits and drawbacks. They find the practice entails multiple benefits such as innovation and flexibility, leadership of the most impacted and building solidarity. The drawbacks are identified as potential conflicts of interest, complex logistics and income streams.
DBU (Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt), https://www.dbu.de/2936.html
>mentions interdisciplinary, not transdisciplinary approaches to research. However, they stress the need to involve “societal practice” to work on environmental issues, and science communication to a diverse public. Their limitation is that funds aim at projects set in Germany only.
>funds inter- and transdisciplinary projects (dissertations, conferences etc.). Does not accept new applications at the moment, but will again in the future
6. Relevant networks, organizations
TD-Net (https://transdisciplinarity.ch/en) e.g. with own literature listing (https://transdisciplinarity.ch/en/publikationen/publikationen/)
>An important, Swiss-based network connected to the handbook by Hirsch Hadorn and colleagues (see first items above)
ITD Alliance https://itd-alliance.org/
7. Teaching resources (also for peers)
Book on transdis in teaching: Herweg, Karl et al. (2021) Transdisciplinary Learning for Sustainable Development. Sharing Experience in Course and Curriculum Design. Bern, Switzerland: Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), University of Bern, with Bern Open Publishing (BOP). https://boris.unibe.ch/157343/
Game COLLAB (improve interdisciplinary communication) https://www.interdisciplinarygames.net/manifesto
>Free self-print board game. The creators write:
‘COLLAB encourages a playful reflection on different backgrounds in interdisciplinary teams in order to improve communication and collaboration. With COLLAB, you can address, discuss, compare, and exchange ideas about disciplinary principles and foundations. This allows you and your research team to create good and effective communication and gain new insights. You can play COLLAB with your colleagues in research settings or at graduate schools. It is especially helpful for new interdisciplinary research teams and when developing a new project idea.’
8. TD approaches of cultural institutions
Root-Bernstein, R., Allen, L., Beach, L., Bhadula, R., Fast, J., Hosey, C. et al. (2008). Arts Foster Scientific Success. Avocations of Nobel, National Academy, Royal Society, and Sigma Xi Members. Journal of Psychology of Science and Technology 1(2), 51–63. https://psycnet.apa.org/doi/10.1891/1939-7054.1.2.51
>Not be a cultural institution, but: authors argue that art can support scientific advancement.
Senckenberg Museum Frankfurt
>operates a citizen science initiative embracing participative research and exhibitions engaging scientists and citizens with interest and lay knowledge in biodiversity. So far, information is available in German only. Initiative Gemeinsam Forschen: https://gemeinsamforschen.senckenberg.de/de/ueber-uns/ ; Citizen Science projects: https://gemeinsamforschen.senckenberg.de/de/mitmachen/citizen-science/