Interdisciplinary scientific knowledge is necessary but not sufficient when it comes to addressing sustainable transformations, as science increasingly has to deal with normative and value-related issues. A systems perspective on coupled human–environmental systems (HES) helps to address the inherent complexities. Additionally, a thorough interaction between science and society (i.e., transdisciplinarity = TD) is necessary, as sustainable transitions are sometimes contested and can cause conflicts. In order to navigate complexities regarding the delicate interaction of scientific research with societal decisions these processes must proceed in a structured and functional way. We thus propose HES-based TD processes to provide a basis for reorganizing science in coming decades.
KeywordsTransdisciplinarity Human–environment systems Science and society Local–global scales
The authors thank Ralf Seppelt and Ulli Vilsmaier for comments on an earlier draft and Sandro Bösch for developing the figures in their current form. We thank Heather Murray for English language editing.
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