By Oghenekaro N. Odume, Akosua B. K. Amaka-Otchere, Blessing N. Onyima, Fati Aziz, Sandra B. Kushitor and Sokhna Thiam
Why is transdisciplinary research that aims to co-produce knowledge across academic disciplines, policy contexts and societal domains often so difficult? What are the key challenges that need to be overcome?
We identified five key challenges when we analysed five projects implemented in nine African cities which were part of the Leading Integrated Research for Agenda 2030 in Africa (LIRA) program (Odume et al., 2021).
Challenge #1: Conceptual threshold crossing
Science-policy-society interactions require active engagement of diverse actors, often with different discursive language and epistemic backgrounds. Translating academic discourse into accessible everyday language can be challenging. In the same vein, policy and societal actors use discourse unfamiliar to academic actors.
Conceptual threshold crossing in terms of intellectual, ontological, and cognitive transformation is particularly challenging when projects are not just about understanding problems or raising awareness, but about true co-production of knowledge and co-ownership of the resulting outcomes.