, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 254-265,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 10 Mar 2013

Solving Problems in Social–Ecological Systems: Definition, Practice and Barriers of Transdisciplinary Research

Abstract

Translating policies about sustainable development as a social process and sustainability outcomes into the real world of social–ecological systems involves several challenges. Hence, research policies advocate improved innovative problem-solving capacity. One approach is transdisciplinary research that integrates research disciplines, as well as researchers and practitioners. Drawing upon 14 experiences of problem-solving, we used group modeling to map perceived barriers and bridges for researchers’ and practitioners’ joint knowledge production and learning towards transdisciplinary research. The analysis indicated that the transdisciplinary research process is influenced by (1) the amount of traditional disciplinary formal and informal control, (2) adaptation of project applications to fill the transdisciplinary research agenda, (3) stakeholder participation, and (4) functional team building/development based on self-reflection and experienced leadership. Focusing on implementation of green infrastructure policy as a common denominator for the delivery of ecosystem services and human well-being, we discuss how to diagnose social–ecological systems, and use knowledge production and collaborative learning as treatments.