Publications 2018



Herrero, P., T. Dedeurwaerdere, and A. Osinski (2018): Design features for social learning in transformative transdisciplinary research. Sustainability Science, p. 1-19.

This article analyses social learning in transdisciplinary research processes by a systematic comparative analysis of 20 completed or nearly completed projects in the field of sustainable development. This article considers the social learning generated by transdisciplinary processes in a broad way. It looks how social learning is embedded in the practical interaction processes between new scientific knowledge, practitioners’ life-world experiences and social experimentation. The analysis finds that three factors in particular play an important role in social learning: the clarification of the normative orientations, the co-construction of the research question and practical problem situation, and the balancing of power asymmetries. While a single criterion may not allow increasing social learning alone, the analysis supports the hypothesis that a combination of these three criteria systematically increases the strength of the social learning generated. Other factors, such as active facilitation modes and the presence of collective interest advocacy organizations, only play a strong role as a condition for generating social learning in some specific types of transdisciplinary research.

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National Research Council (2018): Collaborations of Consequence: NAKFI’s 15 Years Igniting Innovation at the Intersections of Disciplines. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

This publication represents the culmination of the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative (NAKFI), a program of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the National Academy of Medicine supported by a 15-year, $40 million grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation to advance the future of science through interdisciplinary research. From 2003 to 2017, more than 2,000 researchers and other professionals across disciplines and sectors attended an annual “think-tank” style conference to contemplate real-world challenges. Seed grants awarded to conference participants enabled further pursuit of bold, new research and ideas generated at the conference.

Link to the book



Black, D., et al. (2018): Moving Health Upstream in Urban Development: Reflections on the Operationalization of a Transdisciplinary Case Study. Global Challenges.

This paper describes the development, conceptualization, and implementation of a transdisciplinary research pilot, the aim of which is to understand how human and planetary health could become a priority for those who control the urban development process. Key challenges include a significant dislocation between academia and the real world, alongside systemic failures in valuation and assessment mechanisms. The National Institutes of Health four‐phase model of transdisciplinary team‐based research is drawn on and adapted to reflect on what has worked well and what has not operationally.

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Bührmann, A.D. and Y. Franke (2018): Transdisziplinarität: Versuch einer Kartografierung des Feldes. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung, 19(2), Art. 22.

Transdisziplinäre Ansätze haben derzeit Konjunktur in der deutschsprachigen Forschungslandschaft. Die Autorinnen präsentieren vier Sammelbände zum Thema und möchten so das Feld aus der Perspektive der qualitativen Forschung 'vermessen'. Die Sammelbände dokumentieren das weite Spektrum der gegenwärtigen transdisziplinären Forschung.

Link zur Buchbesprechung

Bulkeley, H., et al. (2018): Urban living laboratories: Conducting the experimental city? European Urban and Regional Studies.

The recent upsurge of interest in the experimental city as an arena within and through which urban sustainability is governed marks not only the emergence of the proliferation of forms of experimentation – from novel governance arrangements to demonstration projects, transition management processes to grassroots innovations – but also an increasing sensibility amongst the research community that urban interventions can be considered in experimental terms. Yet as research has progressed, it has become clear that experimentation is not a singular phenomenon that can be readily understood using any one conceptual entry point. In this paper, we focus on one particular mode of experimentation – the urban living laboratory (ULL) – and develop a typology through which to undertake a comparative analysis of 40 European ULLs, to understand how and why such forms of experimentation are being designed and implemented, and to identify the particular forms of experimentation they entail. We argue that there are distinct types of ULL taking shape, delimited by the ways in which they are designed and deployed through, on the one hand, specific kinds of configuration and practice and, on the other hand, by the ways in which they take laboratory form: the different dispositions towards the laboratory they entail. We propose three ‘ideal’ ULL types – strategic, civic and organic – and argue that these can be placed along the spectrum of four dispositions: trial, enclave, demonstration and platform.

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Cabrera, D. and L. Cabrera (2018): Frameworks for Transdisciplinary Research: Framework #4. GAIA - Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society, 27(2), p. 200.

Cullati, S., M. Kliegel, and E. Widmer (2018): Development of reserves over the life course and onset of vulnerability in later life. Nature Human Behaviour, 2(8), p. 551-558.

This Review develops a theoretical framework for the development and onset of vulnerability in later life based on the concept of reserves. We stress the advantages of using the concept of reserves in interdisciplinary life-course studies, compared with related concepts such as resources and capital. We enrich the definition of vulnerability as a lack of reserves and a reduced capacity of an individual to restore reserves. Two dimensions of reserves, originating from lifespan psychology and gerontology, are of particular importance: their constitution and sustainability by behaviours and interaction with the environment (the ‘use it or lose it’ paradigm) and the presence of thresholds, below which functioning becomes highly challenging. This heuristic approach reveals the potential for a conceptualization of reserves and is exemplified in an empirical illustration. Further interdisciplinary research based on the concept is needed.

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Defila, R. and A. Di Giulio (2018): Transdisziplinär und transformativ forschen: Eine Methodensammlung. Wiesbaden: Springer VS.

Dieses Open Access Buch ist ein Beitrag zur Methodik transdisziplinärer Forschung, und zwar für transformative wie nicht-transformative Forschung, für solche innerhalb wie außerhalb von Reallaboren. Methoden der Wissenserzeugung, Wissensintegration und Transformation werden ausführlich beschrieben und illustriert, so dass Dritte sie umsetzen können.

Link zum Buch

Durose, C., L. Richardson, and B. Perry (2018): Craft metrics to value co-production. Nature, (562), p. 32-33.

Fam, D., L. Neuhauser, and P. Gibbs, eds (2018): Transdisciplinary Theory, Practice and Education. The Art of Collaborative Research and Collective Learning. Springer International Publishing.

This exciting new state-of-the art book reviews, explores and advocates ways in which collaborative research endeavours can, through a transdisciplinary lens, enhance student, academic and social experiences. Drawing from a wide range of knowledges, contexts, geographical locations and internationally renowned expertise, the book provides a unique look into the world of transdisciplinary thinking, collaborative learning and action. In doing so, the book is action orientated, reflective, theoretical and intriguing and provides a place for all of these to meet and mingle in the spirit of curiosity and imagination.

Link to the book

GAIA Special Issue S1/2018 on Labs in the Real World

At the science-society interface, new forms of experimental and transdisciplinary research approaches, so-called society-based laboratories, have been established to accelerate transformations towards more sustainable societies. This GAIA special issue “Labs in the Real World”, funded by the Ministry of Science, Research and Arts Baden-Württemberg, brings the growing international research community together. They discuss questions such as transdisciplinarity and learning dimensions, as well as the transformative potential of such labs in a large variety of empirical and theoretical investigations.

GAIA Editor Ortwin Renn puts it in a nutshell: “Real-world labs are a viable and promising concept for realizing the vision of transdisciplinary research“.

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GAIA - Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society, 3/2018.

GAIA is a peer-reviewed inter- and transdisciplinary journal for scientists and other interested parties concerned with the causes and analyses of environmental and sustainability problems and their solutions.

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Graesser, A.C., et al. (2018): Advancing the Science of Collaborative Problem Solving. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 19(2), p. 59-92.

Collaborative problem solving (CPS) has been receiving increasing international attention because much of the complex work in the modern world is performed by teams. However, systematic education and training on CPS is lacking for those entering and participating in the workforce. In 2015, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a global test of educational progress, documented the low levels of proficiency in CPS. This result not only underscores a significant societal need but also presents an important opportunity for psychological scientists to develop, adopt, and implement theory and empirical research on CPS and to work with educators and policy experts to improve training in CPS. This article offers some directions for psychological science to participate in the growing attention to CPS throughout the world.

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Hering, J.G. (2018): Getting Water Research into Policy and Practice (GRIPP for Water). National Water Research Institute.

Lecture delivered at the 2018 Clarke Prize presentation ceremony.

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Hering, J.G. (2018): Implementation Science for the Environment. Environmental Science & Technology.

The establishment of the field of implementation science was motivated by the understanding that medical and health research alone is insufficient to generate better health outcomes. With strong support from funding agencies for medical research, implementation science promotes the application of a structured framework or model in the implementation of research-based results, specifically evidence-based practices (EBPs). Furthermore, explicit consideration is given to the context of EBP implementation (i.e., socio-economic, political, cultural, and institutional factors that could affect the implementation process). Finally, implementation is monitored in a robust and rigorous way.

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Hering, J.G. (2018): Reconnecting academic research with societal needs through assessment. OSF Home

Hilger, A., M. Rose, and M. Wanner (2018): Changing Faces – Factors Influencing the Roles of Researchers in Real-World Laboratories. GAIA - Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society, 27(2), p. 138-145.

Kirchhoff, T. (2018): 'Kulturelle Ökosystemdienstleistungen'. Eine begriffliche und methodische Kritik ['Cultural Ecosystem Services'. A Conceptual and Methodological Critique]. Freiburg/München: Verlag Karl Alber.

Natur hat für Menschen nicht nur extrinsische, instrumentelle Werte, sondern auch vielfältige intrinsische, nicht-instrumentelle Werte. Der immer einflussreicher werdende Ökosystemdienstleistungsansatz versucht, diese intrinsischen ästhetischen, symbolischen und moralischen Werte von Natur als „kulturelle Ökosystemdienstleistungen“ zu erfassen. Dieses Konzept beinhaltet jedoch – das zeigt die vorliegende Analyse – grundlegende begriffliche und ontologische Fehler, die methodische Unzulänglichkeiten bei der Erfassung dieser Werte implizieren und auch kommunikative Probleme mit sich bringen. Das Konzept der kulturellen Ökosystemdienstleistungen stellt einen scientific imperialism dar, der – entgegen der Intention, mit der dieses Konzept eingeführt worden ist – einen angemessenen gesellschaftlichen Verständigungsprozess über die Erhaltung von Naturphänomenen, die wir ästhetisch, symbolisch und moralisch wertschätzen, untergräbt.

Leseprobe über researchgate

Lagaay, A. and A. Seitz, eds (2018): Wissen Formen – Performative Akte zwischen Bildung, Wissenschaft und Kunst. Erkundungen mit dem Theater der Versammlung. transcript Verlag.

Was passiert, wenn die Sprache der Wissenschaften auf die Sprache der performativen Künste trifft? Welche Formen der öffentlichen Inszenierung, Darstellung und Versammlung laden dazu ein, sich auf die Produktivität der Fremdheit im Umgang mit Themen und Situationen, mit Anderen und mit sich selbst einzulassen?

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Leydesdorff, L., C.S. Wagner, and L. Bornmann (2018): Interdisciplinarity as Diversity in Citation Patterns among Journals: Rao-Stirling Diversity, Relative Variety, and the Gini coefficient. Cornell University Library.

Questions of definition and measurement continue to constrain a consensus on the measurement of interdisciplinarity. Using Rao-Stirling (RS) Diversity produces sometimes anomalous results. We argue that these unexpected outcomes can be related to the use of "dual-concept diversity" which combines "variety" and "balance" in the definitions (ex ante). We propose to modify RS Diversity into a new indicator (DIV) which operationalizes variety, balance, and disparity independently and then combines them ex post. "Balance" can be measured using the Gini coefficient. We apply DIV to the aggregated citation patterns of 11,487 journals covered by the Journal Citation Reports 2016 of the Science Citation Index and the Social Sciences Citation Index as an empirical domain and, in more detail, to the citation patterns of 85 journals assigned to the Web-of-Science category "information science & library science" in both the cited and citing directions. We compare the results of the indicators and show that DIV provides improved results in terms of distinguishing between interdisciplinary knowledge integration (citing) versus knowledge diffusion (cited). The new diversity indicator and RS diversity measure different features. A routine for the measurement of the various operationalizations of diversity (in any data matrix) is made available online.

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Lüneburg, B. (2018): TransCoding – From `Highbrow Art' to Participatory Culture. Social Media – Art – Research. transcript Verlag.

Between 2014 and 2017, the artistic research project "TransCoding – From 'Highbrow Art' to Participatory Culture" encouraged creative participation in multimedia art via social media. Based on the artworks that emerged from the project, Barbara Lüneburg investigates authorship, authority, motivational factors, and aesthetics in participatory art created with the help of web 2.0 technology. The interdisciplinary approach includes perspectives from sociology, cultural and media studies, and offers an exclusive view and analysis from the inside through the method of artistic research. In addition, the study documents selected community projects and the creation processes of the artworks Slices of Life and Read me.

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Maag, S., et al. (2018): Indicators for measuring the contributions of individual knowledge brokers. Environmental Science & Policy, 89, p. 1-9.

An increasing number of knowledge brokers work at the interface between research, policy and practice. Their function is to facilitate processes to foster mutual learning among research, policy and practice. For some knowledge brokers, practical methodologies to assess the quality of their work is an important concern. While frameworks exist for assessing research impact at the level of a project or program, few are available for assessing contributions of individual knowledge brokers. In response to this, we have compiled a set of indicators to measure the quantity and quality of the contributions of individual knowledge brokers to projects, programs or platforms at the interface between research, policy and practice.

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Mann, C. and M. Schäfer (2018): Developing sustainable water and land management options: reflections on a transdisciplinary research process. Sustainability Science, 13(1), p. 205-217.

Knowledge production for sustainable land management requires close cooperation between research and practice. Drawing on insights from the ELaN project, which has developed a set of products to foster integrated water and land management in Northeast Germany, this paper compares two specific transdisciplinary research processes, seeking to obtain a clearer picture of what influences the acceptance and up-take of generated research products beyond methodological considerations of transdisciplinary research design and stakeholder interaction.

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Miller, C.A. and C. Wyborn (2018): Co-production in global sustainability: Histories and theories. Environmental Science & Policy.

Co-production is one of the most important ideas in the theory and practice of knowledge and governance for global sustainability, including ecology and biodiversity conservation. A core challenge confronting the application of co-production has been confusion over differences in definition and practice across several disciplinary traditions, including sustainability science, public administration, and science and technology studies. In this paper, we review the theoretical foundations of these disciplinary traditions and how each has applied co-production. We suggest, at the theoretical level, the differences across disciplines are, in fact, more apparent than real. We identify several theoretical convergences that allow us to synthesize a strong conceptual foundation for those seeking to design and implement co-production work in programs of global sustainability research and policy.

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Misra, S. and G.R. Lotrecchiano, eds (2018): Special issue of 10 articles on transdisciplinary communication for Informing Science: The International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline, 21, p. 41-253.

The focus of this special issue is to highlight different considerations about communication in transdisciplinary teams by focusing on theory, practice, emerging technologies, management and leadership practices and educational trends.

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Mitchell, C., D. Fam, and D. Cordell (2018): Frameworks for Transdisciplinary Research: Framework #3. GAIA - Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society, 27(1), p. 112.

Outcome Spaces: Designing for Impact in Transdisciplinary Research

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Moody, Z. and F. Darbellay (2018): Studying childhood, children, and their rights: The challenge of interdisciplinarity. Childhood, p. 1-14.

This article proposes an epistemological reflection on the multidisciplinary/interdisciplinary fields of Childhood and Children’s Rights Studies. The theoretical backgrounds underlying the claims for interactions between disciplines in these specific fields are investigated, exploring their multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary nature(s). Between specificities, similarities, and complementarities, possibilities of dialogue and integration within and beyond the fields are explored, to identify the conditions for interdisciplinary work on the complex issues of childhood, children, and their rights.

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Mountain Research and Development, 38(1)

Papers analyze gender-inclusive value chain development in Nepal, the impact of Swiss policy to maintain high-mountain pasturing, cultivation of an endangered runner bean in Italy, an intercropping experiment in Thailand, Bhutanese herders’ perceptions of climatic changes, the introduction of non-native plants by tourists in a Chinese national park, plant functional groups in grassland in the Georgian Caucasus, and large-scale mapping of arid regions in river valleys in southwestern China.

Link to the journal (open access)

Mountain Research and Development, 38(2)

Papers explore self-governed small-scale irrigation in Tajikistan; how Kenyan commercial horticulture affects water resources; the impact of extensive grazing on forest soils in Mexico; how mining restoration measures influence vegetation in Peru; human impact on vascular plants in Ethiopia; the impact of climate change on treelines in Nepal; and how climate warming affects snow availability in a ski area in New Hampshire, USA.

Link to the journal (open access)

Mountain Research and Development, 38(3)

Topics are: the foresight process as a means of effective conservation in a national reserve in Peru, local perception of a dam project in Darjeeling, regeneration patterns of key tree species in Garhwal, water-holding of forest litter in China, the role of Acacia decurrens in Ethiopia, a high-resolution map of the world’s mountains and open access tool to compare mountain extents, and immigration of refugees to the European Alps as social innovation.

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Muhar, A. and M. Penker (2018): Frameworks for Transdisciplinary Research: Framework #5. GAIA - Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society, 27(3), p. 272-272.

Special issue „Co-production of research“, Nature.

From people with HIV selecting which trials get funded to smallholder farmers guiding weather monitoring, the people affected by research are increasingly getting involved in it. They are shaping how projects are conceived, supported, done, reviewed, disseminated and rated — as partners in research. This special issue looks at the promise and the pitfalls of research coproduction for the societies, stakeholders and scientists now working shoulder to shoulder.

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Perry, B.G., et al. (2018): Organising for Co-production: Local Interaction Platforms for Urban Sustainability. Politics and Governance, 6(1), p. 189–198.

Urban sustainability is a wicked issue unsuited to management through traditional decision-making structures. Co-productive arrangements, spaces and processes are inscribed in new organisational forms to bridge between diverse forms of knowledge and expertise. This article suggests that local interaction platforms (LIPs) are innovative responses to these challenges, developed in two African and two European cities between 2010 and 2014. Through elaborating the design and practice of the LIPs, the article concludes that the value of this approach lies in its context-sensitivity and iterative flexibility to articulate between internationally shared challenges and distinctive local practices. Six necessary conditions for the evolution of LIPs are presented: anchorage, co-constitution, context-sensitivity, alignment, connection and shared functions. In the context of increased uncertainty, complexity and the demand for transdisciplinary knowledge production, the platform concept has wider relevance in surfacing the challenges and possibilities for more adaptive urban governance.

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Pettibone, L., et al. (2018): Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research and Citizen Science: Options for Mutual Learning. GAIA - Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society, 27(2), p. 222-225.

Both citizen science and transdisciplinary sustainability research involve nonacademic actors in the production of knowledge while seeking to contribute to sustainability transitions, albeit in different ways. From citizen science, transdisciplinary researchers can learn about the multiple ways of engaging knowledge holders, and producing and sharing knowledge.

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Pinter-Wollman, N., et al., eds (2018): Theme issue ‘Interdisciplinary approaches for uncovering the impacts of architecture on collective behaviour’. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 373(1753).

Pohl, C. (2018): Ich fürchte, ich bin ein transdisziplinärer Methodologe. GAIA - Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society, 27(3), p. 281-283.

Reaktion auf fünf Beiträge in GAIA 2014 ‐ 2018 zur Theorie transdisziplinärer Forschung

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Puerari, E., et al. (2018): Co-Creation Dynamics in Urban Living Labs. Sustainability, 10(6), p. 1893.

Citizens and urban policy makers are experimenting with collaborative ways to tackle wicked urban issues, such as today’s sustainability challenges. In this article, we consider one particular way of collaboration in an experimental setting: Urban Living Labs (ULLs). ULLs are understood as spatially embedded sites for the co-creation of knowledge and solutions by conducting local experiments. As such, ULLs are supposed to offer an arena for reflexive, adaptive, and multi-actor learning environments, where new practices of self-organization and novel (infra-) structures can be tested within their real-world context. Yet, it remains understudied how the co-creation of knowledge and practices actually takes place within ULLs, and how co-creation unfolds their impacts. Hence, this paper focuses on co-creation dynamics in urban living labs, its associated learning and knowledge generation, and how these possibly contribute to urban sustainability transitions. We analyzed empirical data from a series of in-depth interviews and were actively involved with ULLs in the Rotterdam-The Hague region in the Netherlands. Our findings show five distinct types of co-creation elements that relate to specific dynamics of participation, facilitation, and organization. We conclude with a discussion on the ambivalent role of contextualized knowledge and the implications for sustainability transitions.

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Renn, O. and R.W. Scholz (2018): Ein Neues Transdisziplinäres Projekt zu den Unbeabsichtigen Nebenwirkungen der Digitalisierung – DiDaT: Die Nutzung Digitaler Daten als Gegenstand eines Transdisziplinären Prozesses. Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies Potsdam (IASS) e.V.

Ribeiro, B., et al. (2018): Introducing the dilemma of societal alignment for inclusive and responsible research and innovation. Journal of Responsible Innovation, p. 1-16.

In this discussion paper, we outline and reflect on some of the key challenges that influence the development and uptake of more inclusive and responsible forms of research and innovation. Taking these challenges together, we invoke Collingridge’s famous dilemma of social control of technology to introduce a complementary dilemma that of ‘societal alignment’ in the governance of science, technology and innovation. Considerations of social alignment are scattered and overlooked among some communities in the field of science, technology and innovation policy. By starting to unpack this dilemma, we outline an agenda for further consideration of social alignment in the study of responsible research and innovation.

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Rohrbach, B., P. Laube, and R. Weibel (2018): Comparing multi-criteria evaluation and participatory mapping to projecting land use. Landscape and Urban Planning, 176, p. 38-50.

Projections pertaining to future land use and land use change may have diverse backgrounds. Often, both local and scientific knowledge encompass important pieces of information for such a projection. Acknowledging the diversity across the two types of knowledge, we investigated their differences and similarities in a twofold case study, conducting a participatory mapping (PM) exercise with local wine growers, as well as a Multi Criteria Evaluation (MCE) with non-local experts from science, government and industry. Hence, we not only utilised two different knowledge elicitation methods, but also two types of ‘knowledges’.

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Rüegg, S., et al. (2018): A Systems Approach to Evaluate One Health Initiatives. Front. Vet. Sci., 5(23).

Rüegg, S.R., B. Häsler, and J. Zinsstag, eds (2018): Integrated approaches to health. A handbook for the evaluation of One Health.

One Health addresses health challenges arising from the intertwined spheres of humans, animals and ecosystems. This handbook is the product of an interdisciplinary effort to provide science-based guidance for the evaluation of One Health and other integrated approaches to health. It guides the reader through a systems approach and framework to evaluate such approaches in a standardised way. It provides an overview of concepts and metrics from health and life sciences, social sciences, economics, and ecology that are relevant for the evaluation of the processes involved, as well as the characterisation of expected and unexpected outcomes of One Health initiatives. Finally, the handbook provides guidance and practical protocols to help plan and implement evaluations in order to generate new insights and provide meaningful information about the value of One Health. The handbook is intended for practitioners, researchers, evaluators as well as funders of integrated approaches to health and beyond.

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Sahakian, M. and G. Seyfang (2018): A sustainable consumption teaching review: From building competencies to transformative learning. Journal of Cleaner Production, 198, p. 231-241.

Sustainable consumption (SC) is a growing area of research, practice and policy-making that has been gaining momentum in teaching programs among higher education institutions. Understanding how, in what way, and what we consume, in relation to environmental integrity and intra/inter-generational equity, is a complex question, all the more so when tied up with questions of social change, justice and citizenship. To understand and address (un)sustainable consumption, different disciplines and related methodologies are often brought together, ranging from sociology, economics and psychology, to political science, history and environmental engineering. Combining and indeed transcending disciplinary approaches is necessary, and what better place to explore these approaches than in the classroom?

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Scherhaufer, P., et al. (2018): A participatory integrated assessment of the social acceptance of wind energy. Energy Research & Social Science, 45, p. 164-172.

This research paper deals with problems of operationalisation or how to conduct research in the field of energy and climate change from a methodological point of view. Guided by a participatory integrated assessment the research project TransWind identified key issues relevant to the social acceptance of wind energy development in Austria. Based on a mixed-method design including modelling and visualisation efforts, workshops, interviews, focus groups and questionnaires researchers and stakeholders expressed their ideas and perceptions with regard to the three dimensions of social acceptance: community, market, and socio-political acceptance. The paper focuses on two main challenges in the assessment: i) the integration of various relevant stakeholders into the research process, ii) the integration of different research methods into one conceptional and methodological reliable assessment investigating the social acceptance of wind energy. The results highlight that there is a strong need for integrating in a systematic way the analytical perspectives of scientists and their approaches with preferences and perceptions of the persons concerned about the issue.

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Schmidt, L., et al. (2018): Stakeholder Involvement in Transdisciplinary Research: Lessons from Three Projects on Sustainable Land Management in a North-South Setting. GAIA - Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society, 27(3), p. 312-320.

Sustainability problems call for collaborative solution finding. Lessons learnt from the transdisciplinary designs of three projects in the Global South include the need for a prephase to build balanced ownership, institutionalised and equal partnerships, and diversified approaches.

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Schneider, F. and T. Buser (2018): Promising degrees of stakeholder interaction in research for sustainable development. Sustainability Science, 13(1), p. 129-142.

Stakeholder interactions are increasingly viewed as an important element of research for sustainable development. But to what extent, how, and for which goals should stakeholders be involved? In this article, we explore what degrees of stakeholder interaction show the most promise in research for sustainable development. For this purpose, we examine 16 research projects from the transdisciplinary research programme NRP 61 on sustainable water management in Switzerland. The results suggest that various degrees of stakeholder interaction can be beneficial depending on each project’s intended contribution to sustainability, the form of knowledge desired, how contested the issues are, the level of actor diversity, actors’ interests, and existing collaborations between actors. We argue that systematic reflection about these six criteria can enable tailoring stakeholder interaction processes according specific project goals and context conditions.

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Scholz, R.W. (2018): Ways and modes of utilizing Brunswik’s Theory of Probabilistic Functionalism: new perspectives for decision and sustainability research? Environment Systems and Decisions, 38(1), p. 99-117.

Several of the comments on the Managing Complexity paper deal with theoretical issues regarding Brunswik’s Theory of Probabilistic Functionalism (TPF) (Mumpower; Hoffrage) or its application to sustainability planning groups (Mieg; Susskind). Other commenters extend the space of application of the TPF to better frame innovation or open data management (Steiner; Yarime) or focus frameworks of how to conceptualize modeling or transdisciplinary processes in sustainable transitioning (Wilson; Dedeurwaerdere). This response paper first clarifies several general issues, such as how to approach the evaluation of single TPF principles such as representativeness, in what way TPF may improve sustainability planning groups’ performance, how sustainability may be conceived as a terminal focal variable, and in what way groups are organisms.

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Schuck-Zöller, S., C. Brinkmann, and S. Rödder (2018): Integrating Research and Practice in Emerging Climate Services — Lessons from Other Transdisciplinary Dialogues. In: S. Serrao-Neumann, A. Coudrain, and L. Coulter, eds: Communicating Climate Change Information for Decision-Making. Dordrecht: Springer, p. 105-118.

Sellberg, M. (2018): Creating meaningful transdisciplinary collaborations during the limited time of a PhD. Blog post on Social-Ecological Systems Scholars, 11 April 2018.

Fondation pour l'évaluation des choix technologiques (2018): Rapport d'activité 2017. DT-51/2018. Berne.

Suryanarayanan, S., et al. (2018): Collaboration Matters: Honey Bee Health as a Transdisciplinary Model for Understanding Real-World Complexity. BioScience.

We develop a transdisciplinary deliberative model that moves beyond traditional scientific collaborations to include nonscientists in designing complexity-oriented research. We use the case of declining honey bee health as an exemplar of complex real-world problems requiring cross-disciplinary intervention. Honey bees are important pollinators of the fruits and vegetables we eat. In recent years, these insects have been dying at alarming rates. To prompt the reorientation of research toward the complex reality in which bees face multiple challenges, we came together as a group, including beekeepers, farmers, and scientists. Over a 2-year period, we deliberated about how to study the problem of honey bee deaths and conducted field experiments with bee colonies. We show trust and authority to be crucial factors shaping such collaborative research, and we offer a model for structuring collaboration that brings scientists and nonscientists together with the key objects and places of their shared concerns across time.

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Szostak, R. (2018): Interdisciplinarity and Adapted Physical Activity. Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, 35(3), p. 254-266.

The purpose of the paper was to draw lessons for the field of adapted physical activity from the interrelated literatures on interdisciplinarity, creativity, and team research. In each of these literatures, strategies have been identified that have been found to be useful by previous researchers. Lack of familiarity with these strategies can result in unsuccessful research projects or in the devotion of scarce resources to the reinvention of such strategies. The first section in the paper in particular addresses questions that arose at the 2016 North American Federation of Adapted Physical Activity symposium in Edmonton, Alberta.

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Tobias, S., M.F. Ströbele, and T. Buser (2018): How transdisciplinary projects influence participants’ ways of thinking: a case study on future landscape development. Sustainability Science.

Transdisciplinary (TD) approaches have increasingly been promoted in the field of land-use research. However, the theoretical discourse about transdisciplinarity is far more advanced than its implementation in practice. In particular, empirical studies about the effects of concrete TD projects on the participants are rare. We evaluated joint knowledge generation among researchers and non-academics in a TD research programme on urban and landscape development.

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Trechsel, L.J., et al. (2018): Mainstreaming Education for Sustainable Development at a Swiss University: Navigating the Traps of Institutionalization. Higher Education Policy, 31(4), p. 471-490.

How far have higher education institutions progressed towards integrating sustainable development at an institutional level and are they responding to the societal need for transformation? Can the pace of transformation be accelerated, given the urgency of the issues our world is facing? As a practice-oriented contribution to this broader debate — still open despite progress achieved during the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005–2014) — this article discusses a mainstreaming strategy applied to teaching at a higher education institution in Switzerland, the University of Bern.

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van Breda, J. and M. Swilling (2018): The guiding logics and principles for designing emergent transdisciplinary research processes: learning experiences and reflections from a transdisciplinary urban case study in Enkanini informal settlement, South Africa. Sustainability Science.

Transdisciplinarity is not a new science per se, but a new methodology for doing science with society. A particular challenge in doing science with society is the engagement with non-academic actors to enable joint problem formulation, analysis and transformation. How this is achieved differs between contexts. The premise of this paper is that transdisciplinary research (TDR) methodologies designed for developed world contexts cannot merely be replicated and transferred to developing world contexts. Thus a new approach is needed for conducting TDR in contexts characterised by high levels of complexity, conflict and social fluidity. To that end, this paper introduces a new approach to TDR titled emergent transdisciplinary design research (ETDR).

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van der Hel, S. (2018): Science for change: A survey on the normative and political dimensions of global sustainability research. Global Environmental Change, 52, p. 248-258.

Global change and sustainability research increasingly focusses on informing and shaping societal transformations towards more sustainable futures. Doing so, researchers encounter the deeply political and normative dimensions of sustainability problems and potential solutions. This raises questions about the value-dimensions of science itself, as well as the appropriate relationship between science and politics. In this paper, these normative and political dimensions of sustainability research are explored based on a literature review and survey.

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Vienni Baptista, B., F. Vasen, and J.C. Villa Soto (2018): Interdisciplinary Centers in Latin American Universities: The Challenges of Institutionalization. Higher Education Policy.

Universities represent a particularly interesting environment for interdisciplinary development; as institutions, they are simultaneously guardians of tradition and spaces for experimentation. This article focuses on initiatives for the creation of institutional spaces for interdisciplinary research in three Latin American universities: Universidad de Buenos Aires in Argentina, Universidad de la República in Uruguay and Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. The article analyzes the processes of institutionalization of interdisciplinary centers. It compares (a) the context of creation, (b) the conception of interdisciplinarity, (c) the integration into preexisting structures and (d) internal organization and planning of the centers.

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von Wehrden, H., et al. (2018): Interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research: finding the common ground of multi-faceted concepts. Sustainability Science.

Inter- and transdisciplinarity are increasingly relevant concepts and research practices within academia. Although there is a consensus about the need to apply these practices, there is no agreement over definitions. Building on the outcomes of the first year of the COST Action TD1408 “Interdisciplinarity in research programming and funding cycles” (INTREPID), this paper describes the similarities and differences between interpretations of inter- and transdisciplinarity. Drawing on literature review and empirical results from participatory workshops involving INTREPID Network members from 27 different countries, the paper shows that diverse definitions of inter-and transdisciplinarity coexist within scientific literature and are reproduced by researchers and practitioners within the network.

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von Wirth, T., et al. (2018): Impacts of urban living labs on sustainability transitions: mechanisms and strategies for systemic change through experimentation. European Planning Studies, p. 1-29.

Urban Living Labs (ULL) are considered spaces to facilitate experimentation about sustainability solutions. ULL represent sites that allow different urban actors to design, test and learn from socio-technical innovations. However, despite their recent proliferation in the European policy sphere, the underlying processes through which ULL might be able to generate and diffuse new socio-technical configurations beyond their immediate boundaries have been largely disregarded and it remains to be examined how they contribute to urban sustainability transitions. With this study, we contribute to a better understanding of the diffusion mechanisms and strategies through which ULL (seek to) create a wider impact using the conceptual lens of transition studies. The mechanisms of diffusion are investigated in four distinct ULL in Rotterdam, the Netherlands and Malmö, Sweden. The empirical results indicate six specific strategies that aim to support the diffusion of innovations and know-how developed within ULL to a broader context: transformative place-making, activating network partners, replication of lab structure, education and training, stimulating entrepreneurial growth and narratives of impact.

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Wagner, C.S. (2018): The Collaborative Era in Science. Governing the Network. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

In recent years a global network of science has emerged as a result of thousands of individual scientists seeking to collaborate with colleagues around the world, creating a network which rises above national systems. The globalization of science is part of the underlying shift in knowledge creation generally: the collaborative era in science. Over the past decade, the growth in the amount of knowledge and the speed at which it is available has created a fundamental shift—where data, information, and knowledge were once scarce resources, they are now abundantly available. Collaboration, openness, customer- or problem-focused research and development, altruism, and reciprocity are notable features of abundance, and they create challenges that economists have not yet studied. This book defines the collaborative era, describes how it came to be, reveals its internal dynamics, and demonstrates how real-world practitioners are changing to take advantage of it. Most importantly, the book lays out a guide for policymakers and entrepreneurs as they shift perspectives to take advantage of the collaborative era in order to create social and economic welfare.

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Wang, J., T. Aenis, and S. Hofmann-Souki (2018): Triangulation in participation: Dynamic approaches for science-practice interaction in land-use decision making in rural China. Land Use Policy, 72, p. 364-371.

Land use decision making requires knowledge integration from a wide range of stakeholders across science and practice. Many participatory methods and instruments aiming at such science-practice interaction have been developed during the last decades. However, there are methodological challenges, and little evidence neither about the methodological applicability and practicability under diverse socio-political conditions nor about their dynamics. The objective of this paper is to offer some insights on the design and implementation of reasonable science-practice interaction.

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Woltersdorf, L., P. Lang, and P. Döll (2018): How to set up a transdisciplinary research project in Central Asia: description and evaluation. Sustainability Science.

While there has been significant progress regarding the research mode “transdisciplinary research” (TDR) on a theoretical level, case studies describing specific TDR processes and the applied methods are rare. The aim of this paper is to describe how the first phase (Phase A) of a TDR project can be carried out in practice and to evaluate its accomplishments and effectiveness. We describe and evaluate Phase A of a TDR project that is concerned with tipping points of riparian forests in Central Asia. We used a TDR framework with objectives for Phase A and selected a sequence of methods for transdisciplinary knowledge integration.

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Zscheischler, J., S. Rogga, and A. Lange (2018): The success of transdisciplinary research for sustainable land use: individual perceptions and assessments. Sustainability Science, p. 1-14.

With the increasing introduction of transdisciplinary research (TDR) in sustainability and land use sciences, the issue of evaluation has come to the fore. Today, a large part of the literature is dedicated to the search for adequate evaluation approaches. Empirical studies often consider expert perspectives; however, knowledge of the experiences, attitudes, and motivations of a broader science-practice community applying collaborative research approaches remains rare.
The present study aims to gather insights into the perceptions and assessments of success of TDR projects from scientists and practitioners. Based on a mixed-method approach combining qualitative expert interviews with a quantitative survey reaching 178 respondents from practice and science, the results show a high commitment to the targets of TDR projects and a basic shared ‘success profile’. Nevertheless, there is currently a strong ‘practice tendency’, while TDR-specific benefits of the scientific knowledge gain remain neglected. The general success assessment of TDR projects can be described as rather moderate, indicating several deficits in the application and management of TDR.

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