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How can transdisciplinary research contribute to knowledge democracy?

  • Joske F.G. BundersEmail author
  • Jacqueline E.W. Broerse
  • Florian Keil
  • Christian Pohl
  • Roland W. Scholz
  • Marjolein B.M. Zweekhorst
Chapter

Abstract

In any society, a wide diversity of actors has relevant knowledge concerning important societal problems. In a knowledge democracy both dominant and non-dominant actors have equal access and ability to put this knowledge forward in the process of solving societal problems. In order to enable these actors to contribute meaningfully to decision-making around public policy and research agendas, we argue that a transdisciplinary research process is needed. In this chapter we critically reflect on the principles, concepts and core methods of transdisciplinary research. We first look at the national historical roots of transdisciplinary research, specifically focussing on two countries – Switzerland and The Netherlands. Next we develop a typology of transdisciplinary research. From the perspective of knowledge democracy, we can distinguish two important dimensions in research approaches: the degree of knowledge input of lay groups that is included in a specific transdisciplinary project and the degree in which non-dominant actors are explicitly involved in the decision-making of the development process of policies or research agendas. This results in two different styles of transdisciplinary research. We discuss the similarities and differences of these different styles and approaches. We close this chapter with a discussion on transdisciplinary research styles in relation to forms of democracy – on the one hand basic and representative democracy and on the other hand deliberative democracy.

Keywords

Knowledge Production Deliberative Democracy Mutual Learning Dominant Actor Transdisciplinary Research 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

Acknowledgements

We specifically like to thank Tjard de Cock Buning for taking the first steps in realizing this collaborative partnership. In addition, Mariëtte van Amstel’s intellectual support in the writing of this chapter is warmly acknowledged. Also we would like to thank the anonymous reviewer who made some highly valuable comments on an earlier draft of the chapter.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joske F.G. Bunders
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jacqueline E.W. Broerse
    • 1
  • Florian Keil
    • 2
  • Christian Pohl
    • 3
  • Roland W. Scholz
    • 4
  • Marjolein B.M. Zweekhorst
    • 1
  1. 1.VU universityAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Institute for Social-Ecological Research (ISOE) in FrankfurtFrankfurtGermany
  3. 3.Department of Environmental Sciences at ETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  4. 4.University of ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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