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Testing Analytical Frameworks in Transdisciplinary Research for Sustainable Development

Cooperation and Development Center (CODEV), Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), CM2 Station 10, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
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Sustainability 2019, 11(16), 4343; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11164343
Received: 27 June 2019 / Revised: 25 July 2019 / Accepted: 7 August 2019 / Published: 11 August 2019
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Abstract

This article discusses the concept and the practice of transdisciplinary research, including how it is conceived and implemented through the cooperation of different actors involved. With transdisciplinarity gaining recognition as an approach to addressing sustainable development challenges, the successful integration of various disciplines and actors in the process of knowledge generation becomes essential. Through the Cooperation and Development Center (CODEV), the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) has promoted transdisciplinary research by proposing a space where North–South partnerships integrating academic and non-academic actors enable the expansion of appropriate technologies and innovations adapted to local societal contexts. This study examines five collaborative research projects conducted at the EPFL. By using an analytical framework consisting of design principles for ideal transdisciplinary research, we conducted semi-structured interviews with academic and non-academic members of the research projects to assess the degree of transdisciplinarity. This framework proved to be a useful tool for exploring transdisciplinary dynamics and assessing the effectiveness of joint knowledge generation. We found that the transdisciplinary cooperation involving different actors is not a linear process, as it depends on the social context in which the project is carried out and on the internal and the external organizational structure established for its implementation. We provide recommendations on how transdisciplinarity could be expanded through institutional support and its results could be effectively transferred into science and practice and discuss the implications for further studies in the conclusions. View Full-Text
Keywords: transdisciplinarity; transdisciplinary research; analytical frameworks; design principles; knowledge integration; sustainability science; scientific cooperation transdisciplinarity; transdisciplinary research; analytical frameworks; design principles; knowledge integration; sustainability science; scientific cooperation
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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MDPI and ACS Style

Tejada, G.; Cracco, M.; Bouleau, C.R.; Bolay, J.-C.; Hostettler, S. Testing Analytical Frameworks in Transdisciplinary Research for Sustainable Development. Sustainability 2019, 11, 4343.

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