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Special Issue "Transdisciplinarity and Knowledge Co-production: Reflections from Water Governance"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Water Resources Management and Governance".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Gül Özerol

CSTM - Department of Governance and Technology for Sustainability, Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences University of Twente, The Netherlands
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Policy Studies; Natural Resource Governance; Water Governance; Water Cooperation; Water Diplomacy; Water and Climate Resilience; Water-Energy-Food Nexus; Public Participation
Guest Editor
Dr. Marcela Brugnach

Department of Water Engineering and Management, Faculty of Engineering Technology, University of Twente, P.O. Box 217, 7500 AE Enschede, The Netherlands
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Governance and policy making; Adaptive and integrated natural resources management; Uncertainty; Ambiguity; Participation and collaboration; Water diplomacy; Knowledge co-production; Collective decision making; Sustainability

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Water governance and management are becoming increasingly complex processes. It is presently widely recognized that we live in an era of governance failures rather than one with a lack of technologies. Amid the pressures of climate change, population growth, industrialization and urbanization, one of the major challenges faced today by global communities is the sustainable and equitable access to water resources. This goes hand in hand with a growing awareness of the role of contexts in shaping water governance, i.e. the circumstances of localities with respect to their political, technological, ecological and economic conditions. This calls for integrated, inclusive and context-sensitive approaches in handling water problems.

Ways of understanding water problems and solutions are not unique. The complex web of actors in water governance includes users, managers, engineers, bureaucrats, activists, journalists, scientists, consultants, businesses, etc. These actors often do not agree on what they define as a problem, nor on the nature of its solution or the knowledge needed to solve it. Furthermore, the types of knowledge used, and how the knowledge is produced and communicated also varies and is contested between different scientific disciplines and across different societal actors.

In water governance studies, it is becoming increasingly common to involve non-academic stakeholders, such as water users, managers, policy-makers, activists and journalists. Their involvement can contribute to defining, understanding and solving the governance problems, and also to develop and test innovative governance modes. This involvement can take diverse forms and be named differently in different contexts, such as co-production and co-creation. The concept of “transdisciplinary water research” encompasses these forms, which bring together the academic and non-academic actors for creation, communication and use of water-related knowledge.

In this Special Issue, we invite submissions that reflect on the mutual interaction between water governance and transdisciplinary water research, including knowledge co-production and co-creation. We are particularly interested in contributions addressing the following questions:

1.      In transdisciplinary research, what is knowledge and how is it produced? How is it shaped through the participation of academic and non-academic actors? What is the role of tacit knowledge in these processes?
2.      Who, must be involved in processes of knowledge co-production and how? How are the goals of co-production set? How is knowledge validated? How do we know if co-production is or is not working? Which are the successful examples of co-production?
3.      What is the role of different water governance structures and systems in shaping the way that water research is undertaken? How are power differentials among actors taken into account when producing knowledge?
4.      How does transdisciplinary research shape the emergence of new concepts, such as the water–energy–food nexus and water diplomacy?
5.      How and to what extent are societal values, such as democracy, justice and gender, embedded in transdisciplinary water research? How and to what extent does transdisciplinary water research incorporate the role of political, technological, ecological and economic contextual factors in water governance?

Dr. Gül Özerol
Dr. Marcela Brugnach
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Water is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • water governance

  • transdisciplinary water research

  • transdisciplinarity

  • knowledge creation

  • knowledge co-production

  • contextual factors

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessArticle Shifting the Framework of Canadian Water Governance through Indigenous Research Methods: Acknowledging the Past with an Eye on the Future
Water 2018, 10(1), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10010049
Received: 6 September 2017 / Revised: 4 December 2017 / Accepted: 4 January 2018 / Published: 10 January 2018
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First Nations communities in Canada are disproportionately affected by poor water quality. As one example, many communities have been living under boil water advisories for decades, but government interventions to date have had limited impact. This paper examines the importance of using Indigenous
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First Nations communities in Canada are disproportionately affected by poor water quality. As one example, many communities have been living under boil water advisories for decades, but government interventions to date have had limited impact. This paper examines the importance of using Indigenous research methodologies to address current water issues affecting First Nations. The work is part of larger project applying decolonizing methodologies to Indigenous water governance. Because Indigenous epistemologies are a central component of Indigenous research methods, our analysis begins with presenting a theoretical framework for understanding Indigenous water relations. We then consider three cases of innovative Indigenous research initiatives that demonstrate how water research and policy initiatives can adopt a more Indigenous-centered approach in practice. Cases include (1) an Indigenous Community-Based Health Research Lab that follows a two-eyed seeing philosophy (Saskatchewan); (2) water policy research that uses collective knowledge sharing frameworks to facilitate respectful, non-extractive conversations among Elders and traditional knowledge holders (Ontario); and (3) a long-term community-based research initiative on decolonizing water that is practicing reciprocal learning methodologies (British Columbia, Alberta). By establishing new water governance frameworks informed by Indigenous research methods, the authors hope to promote innovative, adaptable solutions, rooted in Indigenous epistemologies. Full article
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