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Converging on sustainable placemaking through transdisciplinary process

Abstract

This research examines the first phase of a multiyear initiative about “sustainable placemaking” processes at a mid-size university in a small US city. The study focuses upon the rhetoric used by five faculty members representing the industrial design, engineering, geography, art history, and political science disciplines who have begun to develop a sustainable design working group whose mission is to produce sustainable design and design process alternatives for the redevelopment of a street connecting the university to the community. Integrating symbolic convergence theory and dialogue theory from communication studies with theory about transdisciplinary approaches to sustainable development, the research describes the extent to which the group achieved transdisciplinary function and articulates how co-creating meaning around sustainable placemaking shaped group processes and outcomes. Findings indicate that shared experiences of “place” and tensions amongst rhetorical boundaries play key roles. Analysis produces lessons learned for similar groups interested in transcending disciplinary boundaries when addressing sustainable development problems.

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Correspondence to Rob Alexander.

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Alexander, R., Britt, L. & Barrella, E. Converging on sustainable placemaking through transdisciplinary process. J Environ Stud Sci 4, 301–309 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13412-014-0192-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13412-014-0192-x

Keywords

  • Placemaking
  • Transdisciplinary
  • Sustainability
  • Sustainable design