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Methodological Agility for Doing Transformative Transdisciplinary Research on Sustainability Transitions in the Context of the Anthropocene

Author(s): Goh, Z. and Van Breda, J.
Link to CST author(s): Dr. John van Breda
Publication: International Journal of Sustainable Development Research
Year: 2022
Full reference: Goh Zhen, Van Breda John. Methodological Agility for Doing Transformative Transdisciplinary Research on Sustainability Transitions in the Context of the Anthropocene. International Journal of Sustainable Development Research. Vol. 8, No. 2, 2022, pp. 41-51. doi: 10.11648/j.ijsdr.20220802.13
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Summary

Undertaking sustainability transitions during the Anthropocene entails complex processes, since it implies co-producing transformative knowledge for many different kinds of socio-ecological contexts that are not just different in degree, but different in kind – i.e. ontologically different. Transformative knowledge is not only about co-producing strategic knowledge of how to navigate different future scenarios practically, taking us from where we are to where we want to be in future. Inextricably linked to this are ethical questions and choices related to the many different ways to act appropriately, fairly and justly on the journey (processes) of transitioning. Inaction in the Anthropocene is arguably the most unethical response imaginable. From a methodological perspective, this is a truly trans-disciplinary challenge. However, trans-disciplinarity is by no means as a methodological panacea. It is much better to imagine trans-disciplinarity as one amongst a number of context- or domain-relevant methodological responses – including mono-, multi- and inter-disciplinarity – on the understanding that trans-disciplinarity is much more specifically focused on and interested in tackling societal challenges that are considered too complex to be addressed strictly from within discrete boundaries of the single disciplines. The methodological agility implied by this should not, however, be confused with the much more onerous Kuhnian notion of ‘paradigm switching’, which is simply too arduous an undertaking for the nimbleness required when facing ever-changing problem situations in the Anthropocene today. In view of the above, the fundamental focus of this paper is on developing such an agile transdisciplinary methodology – with an explicit interest in contributing to the understanding of ways of facilitating the sustainability transitions in the context of the Anthropocene today.