Transdisciplinary Research and Sustainability: Collaboration, Innovation and Transformation, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Transdisciplinary Research and Sustainability

Collaboration, Innovation and Transformation, 1st Edition

Edited by Martina Padmanabhan


314 pages | 26 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2017-10-16
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Transdisciplinarity is a new way of scientifically meeting the challenges of sustainability. Indeed, interdisciplinary collaboration and co-operation with non-academic ‘practice partners’ is at the core of this; creating contextualised, socially relevant knowledge about complex real-world problems.

Transdisciplinary Research and Sustainability breaks new ground by presenting transdisciplinary research in practice, drawing on recent advances by the vibrant transdisciplinary research communities in the German-speaking world. It describes methodological innovations developed to address wide-ranging contemporary issues including climate change adaptation, energy policy, sustainable agriculture and soil conservation. Furthermore, the authors reflect on the challenges involved in integrating non-academic actors in scientific research, on the tensions that arise in the encounter of theory and praxis, and on the inherently normative, political nature of sustainability research.

Highlighting the need for academic institutions to be transformed to reflect transdisciplinarity, this timely volumewill appeal to postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers interested in fields such as Sustainability Science, Transdisciplinary Studies and Philosophy of Science.


Sustainability can neither be understood nor realized without transdisciplinarity. In this collection of outstanding contribution by a stellar cast of international scholars and practitioners, Dr. Padmanabhan brilliantly demonstrates how sustainability science researchers and practitioners can speak to and learn from each other. This model of integrative work will prove to be of lasting and immense value.

Arun Agrawal is a Professor at the School of Natural Resources & Environment at the University of Michigan, USA

Co-design, co-production and co-dissemination are often applied in transdisciplinary research, but still lacks methodological clarity in practise. The volume offers outstanding research from German speaking countries that can further elucidate the implementation of these concepts. It clearly demonstrates that power, gender and culture must be considered carefully to establish transdisciplinarity as emancipatory force."

Christoph Görg, Professor of Social Ecology, Alpen-Adria Universtät Wien, Austria

Table of Contents

Preface: Bernhard Gläser & Heike Egner, series editors

Foreword by the editor: Martina Padmanabhan

Introduction: Transdisciplinarity for sustainability

Martina Padmanabhan

Section 1: Understanding sustainability science as challenge and necessity

A transdisciplinary approach to the process of socio-technical transformation: the case of German ‘Energiewende’

Armin Grunwald

Real-world laboratories as an institutionalisation of the new social contract between science and society

Mandy Singer-Brodowski & Matthias Wanner & Uwe Schneidewind

Transdisciplinarity in social-ecological research: Constraints, challenges and opportunities. Reflections on personal experience

Sabine Hofmeister

Section 2: Cooperating with partners of practice

From the plurality of transdisciplinarity to concrete transdisciplinary methods. The case of PoNa and its dialogue with practitioners on a picture discourse analysis.

Daniela Gottschlich & Jedrzej Sulmowski

Social learning videos: A method for successful collaboration between science and practice

Patricia Fry

Developing landscape scenarios and identifying local management options:

Outcomes and evaluation of a participatory approach in the Swabian Alb, Germany

Claudia Bieling, Holger Gerdes, Bettina Ohnesorge, Tobias Plieninger, Harald Schaich, Christian Schleyer, Kathrin Trommler & Franziska Wolff

Section 3: Pursuing methodological innovations for transdisciplinarity

This is the case (study) - so what? Reflections on a constitutive tension in sustainability science

Rafael Ziegler

Facilitating change: Methodologies for collaborative learning with stakeholders

Anja Christinck & Brigitte Kaufmann

Dream team or evil twins? International tandems in transdisciplinary research

Martina Padmanabhan

Section 4: Policy Interface: Creating dialogues with policy makers

Die Landforscher: Independent researchers networking for sustainable agriculture

Andrea Fink-Keßler & Karin Jürgens

Prospective scenario planning in collaborative transdisciplinary research

Ingo Neumann Neumann &, Sonja Deppisch

Policy foresight: Conceptual ideas on how to engage with dynamics of policy instrument design

Carsten Mann & Jan-Peter Voss

Outlook: The future of transdisciplinarity

Martina Padmanabhan

About the Editor

Martina Padmanabhan is W3 Chair of Comparative Development and Cultural Studies - Southeast Asia, University of Passau, Germany

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Environment, Culture, and Society

This series opens up a forum for advances in environmental studies relating to society and its social, cultural, and economic underpinnings. The underlying assumption guiding this series is that there is an important, and so far little-explored, interaction between societal as well as cultural givens and the ways in which societies both create and respond to environmental issues. As such, this series encourages the exploration of the links between prevalent practices, beliefs and values, as differentially manifested in diverse societies, and the distinct ways in which those societies confront the environment. 

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General