Resolving disagreements by negotiating agreements in the right way

By Lawrence Susskind

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Lawrence Susskind (biography)

How can interdisciplinary teams avoid getting stuck on questions like:

  1. What kinds of data do we need to collect?
  2. What methods or techniques should we use to analyze our data?
  3. How should we handle gaps or incongruities in our findings?
  4. What are the policy implications or prescriptions that follow from our findings?

I want to share some lessons I’ve learned about handling disagreements on these four questions.

Research Design

One interdisciplinary project I worked on many years ago involved trying to assess the feasibility of burying nuclear waste in the ocean floor.

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Systems thinking in public policy: Making space to think differently

By Catherine Hobbs

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Catherine Hobbs (biography)

Why does public policy go wrong? How can researchers who are systems thinkers begin to create the conditions in which those involved in public policy may flourish within their possible spheres of ‘horizontal’ influence?

The public policy context and why it goes wrong

Jake Chapman’s System Failure: Why Governments Must Learn to Think Differently (2002; 2004) remains a much-quoted report.

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What transdisciplinary researchers should know about evaluation: Origins and current state

By Wolfgang Beywl and Amy Gullickson

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1. Wolfgang Beywl (biography)
2. Amy Gullickson (biography)

Efforts to develop evaluation in transdisciplinary research have mostly been conducted without reference to the evaluation literature, effectively re-inventing and re-discussing key concepts. What do transdisciplinary researchers need to know to build on the in-depth knowledge available in evaluation science?

Here we add to other key contributions about evaluation in i2Insights, especially:

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Multidisciplinary perspectives on unknown unknowns

By Gabriele Bammer

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Gabriele Bammer (biography)

This is part of a series of occasional “synthesis blog posts” drawing together perspectives on related topics across i2Insights contributions.

How can different disciplines and practitioners enhance the ability to understand and manage unknown unknowns, also referred to as deep uncertainty?

Seventeen blog posts have addressed these issues, covering:

  • how unknown unknowns can be understood
  • exploiting unknown unknowns
  • accepting unknown unknowns
  • reducing unknown unknowns.

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Stakeholder engagement: Learning from Arnstein’s ladder and the IAP2 spectrum

By Gabriele Bammer

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Gabriele Bammer (biography)

What can researchers interested in stakeholder engagement learn from two classic frameworks on citizen involvement in government decision making – Arnstein’s ladder and the IAP2 (International Association for Public Participation) spectrum of public participation?

Arnstein’s ladder

Sherry Arnstein (1969) developed an eight-rung ladder, shown in the figure below, to illustrate that there are significant gradations of citizen participation in government decision making.

The two bottom rungs are manipulation and therapy.

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Pause… How art and literature can transform transdisciplinary research

By Jane Palmer and Dena Fam

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1. Jane Palmer (biography)
2. Dena Fam (biography)

What might make us stop and think differently about the ways in which we interact with our environment and others, human and nonhuman? What kind of knowing about acute threats to the natural environment will sufficiently motivate action?

We suggest that art and literature can offer us a pause in which we might, firstly, imagine other less anthropocentric ways of being in the world, and secondly, a way into Basarab Nicolescu’s “zone of non-resistance” (2014, p. 192), where we become truly open to new transdisciplinary forms of collaboration.

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Advancing considerations of affect in interdisciplinary collaborations

By Mareike Smolka, Erik Fisher and Alexandra Hausstein

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1. Mareike Smolka (biography)
2. Erik Fisher (biography)
2. Alexandra Hausstein’s biography

Have you ever had a fleeting impression of seeing certainty disrupted, the impulse to laugh when your expectations were broken, or a startling sense of something being both familiar and foreign at the same time?

As social scientists engaged in collaborative studies with natural scientists and engineers, we have had these experiences repeatedly while doing research.

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Insights into interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity in India and Brazil

By Marcel Bursztyn and Seema Purushothaman

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1. Marcel Bursztyn (biography)
2. Seema Purushothaman (biography)

How are interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity faring in India and Brazil? How do they differ from interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity in the Global North? Are there particular lessons to be drawn from India and Brazil for the global interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary communities?

India and Brazil are among the most prominent countries of the Global South in the worldwide academic scene. Both have problems in common, but they have also singularities.

The focus in both countries at the institutional level tends to be on what is referred to as interdisciplinarity. The emergence of a new generation of liberal universities and other academic institutions open to interdisciplinary scholarship has allowed a small cohort of interdisciplinary scholars to emerge.

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Ten dialogue methods for integrating judgments

By David McDonald, Gabriele Bammer and Peter Deane

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1. David McDonald (biography)
2. Gabriele Bammer (biography)
3. Peter Deane (biography)

What formal dialogue methods can assist researchers in synthesising judgments about a complex societal or environmental issue when a range of parties with different perspectives are involved? How can researchers decide which methods will be most suitable for their purposes?

We review ten dialogue methods. Our purpose is not to describe the dialogue methods in detail, but instead to review the circumstances in which each method is likely to be most useful in a research context, bearing in mind that most methods a) were not developed for research, b) can be applied flexibly and c) have evolved into different variations.

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Three lessons for community engagement in international research

By Aysha Fleming

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Aysha Fleming (biography)

What’s required for researchers to effectively engage with local communities in international research tackling complex socio-ecological problems?

In a project involving Indonesian and Australian researchers working with local communities to restore peatlands in Indonesia, we identified three key elements for international collaboration with stakeholders:

  1. project design
  2. individual and collective skills and competencies
  3. processes to support knowledge integration.

Project design

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Collaboration agreement template

By L. Michelle Bennett, Edgar Cardenas and Michael O’Rourke

1. L. Michelle Bennett (biography)
2. Edgar Cardenas (biography)
2. Michael O’Rourke (biography)

As scientific research continues to move towards collaborative knowledge production, scientists must become more adept at working in teams. How can teams improve their chances of collaboration success? What is a good way to facilitate dialogue about shared values, norms and processes of collaboration? Are there ways of anticipating, identifying, and addressing obstacles as they arise?

We have designed a collaboration agreement template to assist teams in:

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A process for generating new cross-disciplinary projects

By Gemma Jiang

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Gemma Jiang (biography)

What is a good way for researchers in large cross-disciplinary science initiatives, who may not know each other well, to generate viable project ideas?

This blog post introduces a field-tested “double helix” process that leverages the benefits of idea generation by a large group and idea refinement in small groups.

This double helix process is most helpful in large cross-disciplinary science initiatives that meet at least one of the following three characteristics:

  • Tackling wicked problems with both scientific and societal significance
  • Requiring deep integration across multiple disciplines that will eventually lead to new meta-disciplines
  • Consisting of more than 20 core research members.

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