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Towards Implementing Transdisciplinarity in Post-Soviet Academic Systems: An Investigation of the Societal Role of Universities in Armenia

1
Institute of Landscape Development, Recreation and Conservation Planning, BOKU University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, Peter Jordan-Str. 82, 1190 Vienna, Austria
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Department of Geography and Its Teaching Methods, Armenian State Pedagogical University, Tigran Mets Ave. 17, Yerevan 3750010 RA, Armenia
3
Institute for Sustainable Economic Development, BOKU University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, Feistmantelstraße 4, 1180 Vienna, Austria
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(20), 8721; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12208721
Received: 27 July 2020 / Revised: 13 October 2020 / Accepted: 16 October 2020 / Published: 21 October 2020
The concept of transdisciplinarity (TD) has been introduced to find solutions for complex sustainability challenges via knowledge co-production by scientists and societal actors. The understanding of the societal role of universities is a critical factor when implementing transdisciplinarity in the academic systems of Post-Soviet countries, given their historic development. Using Armenia as a case, we adopted a qualitative research approach by analyzing legal documents, conducting semi-structured expert interviews and focus group discussions with a range of stakeholders. We identified discrepancies of expectations between stakeholders as challenges for a joint understanding of the societal role of universities, as well as differently perceived competences and motivations, which can lead to trust deficits. The results are discussed according to four main features of transdisciplinarity: focusing on real-life problems, transcending and integrating disciplinary paradigms, ensuring participatory research and teaching, and searching for unity of knowledge beyond disciplines. Findings show that no formal obstacles exist for implementing transdisciplinarity in two Armenian universities and that the societal understanding of the role of universities could be expanded. Yet, while society is in principle ready for collaboration, the initiative is expected to come from academia. A particular responsibility will lie with teachers from the younger generation to become key-agents for change. View Full-Text
Keywords: transdisciplinary approach; participatory research; higher education; university social responsibility transdisciplinary approach; participatory research; higher education; university social responsibility
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MDPI and ACS Style

Keryan, T.; Muhar, A.; Mitrofanenko, T.; Khoetsyan, A.; Radinger-Peer, V. Towards Implementing Transdisciplinarity in Post-Soviet Academic Systems: An Investigation of the Societal Role of Universities in Armenia. Sustainability 2020, 12, 8721. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12208721

AMA Style

Keryan T, Muhar A, Mitrofanenko T, Khoetsyan A, Radinger-Peer V. Towards Implementing Transdisciplinarity in Post-Soviet Academic Systems: An Investigation of the Societal Role of Universities in Armenia. Sustainability. 2020; 12(20):8721. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12208721

Chicago/Turabian Style

Keryan, Tigran, Andreas Muhar, Tamara Mitrofanenko, Ashot Khoetsyan, and Verena Radinger-Peer. 2020. "Towards Implementing Transdisciplinarity in Post-Soviet Academic Systems: An Investigation of the Societal Role of Universities in Armenia" Sustainability 12, no. 20: 8721. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12208721

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