By Maria Helena Guimarães, Olivia Bina and Christian Pohl
If disciplines shape scientific research by forming the primary institutional and cognitive units in academia, how do researchers start being interested in and working with a transdisciplinary approach? How does this influence their career development?
We interviewed 12 researchers working in Switzerland who are part of academia and identify as ‘transdisciplinarians’.
How can Elinor Ostrom’s social-ecological systems framework help transdisciplinary research? I propose that this framework can provide an understanding of the system in which the transdisciplinary research problem is being co-defined.
Understanding the system is a first step and is necessary for adequate problem framing, engagement of participants, connecting knowledge and structuring the collaboration between researchers and non-academics. It leads to a holistic understanding of the problem or question to be dealt with. It allows the problem framing to start with a fair representation of the issues, values and interests that can influence the research outcomes. It also identifies critical gaps as our case study below illustrates.