Transformative Transdisciplinary Research
Research Group Leaders: John van Breda
Complex societal challenges require a transdisciplinary approach, bringing together a range of scientific disciplines, as well as enabling both science and society to co-produce the knowledge necessary for undertaking transition at multiple scales. New and emerging approaches for studying sustainability transitions involve the exploration of new types of research approaches and methods to improve understanding of complex social-ecological systems. More importantly this research theme will establish how transdisciplinary approaches differ from current modes of research, and can more effectively advance understanding about complex systems transitions that facilitate social change.
This research theme will provide the methodological framework for the four Transdisciplinary Cases (TDCs) in three ways. Firstly, the experts in TD research will work with the applied research teams to develop the methodological approaches for each TDC. Secondly, these experts will help facilitate the multi-stakeholder co-production processes. Thirdly, the lessons learnt from the application of TD approaches in the four TDCs will be distilled and published in one of the journals of the burgeoning field of transdisciplinary studies.
In short, TD approaches will support the development of the TDCs, and the TDCs will provide key social laboratories for further developing TD case study research methodologies and methods. Again, various research projects are already underway in this field, including the PhD work by John van Breda aimed at integrating the work done at Stellenbosch University over the past decade, with special reference to its application and amplification in the NRF-funded iShack initiative.