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Sustainability 2014, 6(5), 2893-2928; doi:10.3390/su6052893

Laying the Foundation for Transdisciplinary Faculty Collaborations: Actions for a Sustainable Future

1
Materials Engineering Department, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA 93407, USA
2
Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering Department, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA 93407, USA
3
R. Burton and Associates, 5 Coldhill Road South #511, Mendham, NJ 07945, USA
4
English Department, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA 93407, USA
5
American Rookie Freelance, 2990 Hemlock Ave., Morro Bay, CA 93442, USA
6
Agribusiness Department, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA 93407, USA
These authors contributed equally to this work.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 26 January 2014 / Revised: 30 April 2014 / Accepted: 7 May 2014 / Published: 14 May 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Education and Skills for the Green Economy)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [557 KB, 24 February 2015; original version 24 February 2015]   |  

Abstract

How can academicians who desire a sustainable future successfully participate in transdisciplinary projects? Transcending our hidden thought patterns is required. Paradoxically, the disciplinary specialization that enabled the industrial era and its metaphors now function to undermine our ability to recognize and participate in the transformational learning that is needed. In this paper, we offer a post-industrial era metaphor for transdisciplinarity—that of complex dynamic system—that has helped us to work through the unexpected experiences encountered in the process of transformative learning. These insights are based on an ongoing transdisciplinary research collaboration (2008–present) using action research methods; we focus on the faculty experience. Accepting the metaphors of complex systems, we describe the systemic conditions that seem to repeatedly reproduce the emergence of transformative learning for participants, as well as what one might expect to experience in the process. These experiences include: conflict, existential crisis, transformation and renewed vitality within the necessary context of a safe and caring community. Without the adoption of complexity metaphors, these elements would have been overlooked or interpreted as a hindrance to the work. These insights are intended to serve as socially robust knowledge to support the effective participation of faculty members in sustainability projects of a transdisciplinary nature.
Keywords: emergence; complexity; transformative learning; transdisciplinarity emergence; complexity; transformative learning; transdisciplinarity
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Vanasupa, L.; Schlemer, L.; Burton, R.; Brogno, C.; Hendrix, G.; MacDougall, N. Laying the Foundation for Transdisciplinary Faculty Collaborations: Actions for a Sustainable Future. Sustainability 2014, 6, 2893-2928.

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