22 SES 11 D, Teaching of Research Skills and Attitudes
The CLEAR project seeks to analyze the role of non-academic experts in higher education (practitioners or stakeholders from the public sector, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, or the private sector) in funding and programming decisions for inter- and transdisciplinary research and teaching (ITRT) in the field of sustainable urban development. The CLEAR project is supported by and closely aligned with the goal of the associated European COST Action “Interdisciplinary in Research Programming and Funding Cycles (INTREPID)”, which is to bring together communities of researchers and research policy makers in order to advance our understanding and application of interdisciplinarity. We suggest that addressing and promoting interdisciplinarity can benefit from closing two types of loops: one joining scientists and practitioners and one joining research and teaching. The need to close these two loops, especially the first one, has also been identified as a requirement to solve today’s complex global challenges; short, they are part and parcel of what constitutes sustainable development. The CLEAR project seeks to improve both specific and global understanding (within and across selected case studies) of the challenges of inter- and transdisciplinary research. Because such research constantly redefines the boundaries and limitations between national and international funding agencies, experts, stakeholders, and political actors as well as between researchers from different disciplines, the project’s main objective is guided by a series of analytical and exploratory questions: To what extent can or should evaluation processes take into account the multidimensionality of ITRT? Should attention to ITRT translate into institutional changes and modified funding strategies (avoidance of competition with disciplinary research, creation of niche incentive grants, deployment of specialized scientific valuation, inclusion of non-academic experts in funding and programming cycles)? How are inter- and transdisciplinarity perceived among different members of the funding community and university teaching program development players, especially in relation to concepts such as breakthrough research, transformative learning, and ruptures brought on by innovative thinking? How can a common language be developed for use in different professional environments (science, politics, society)? And, finally, how can inter- and transdisciplinarity be translated into innovative forms of teaching and learning for sustainable urban development issues? The project’s main hypothesis is that the status and application of inter- and transdisciplinarity in research and teaching (and, ultimately, sustainable urban development) varies with the role and modalities of non-academic expert involvement during all phases of the funding and programming cycle. The CLEAR project’s theoretical framework (the double-loop analytical framework and the conceptual frameworks for inter- and transdisciplinary practices), at the crossroads of environmental and urban studies and inter- and transdisciplinary studies, help determine whether there are some types of involving non-academic experts that are more appropriate than others during specific phases of the research and teaching funding and programming cycles of selected number of programs and projects. It is therefore to enhance inter- and transdisciplinary research and teaching through analyzing the degrees and modalities of non-academic expert involvement in ITRT programming and funding cycles, identifying best and innovative practices, and thereby contributing to improved sustainable urban development practices. Tackling the interconnected issues inherent in sustainable urban development can then serve as a lens to address the scientific problem of how inter- and transdisciplinarity are implemented in academic and non-academic practices. Observing and better understanding interdisciplinarity (integration of tools, methods, concepts and theories) would already be an important achievement; finding signs of transdisciplinarity (coproduction of knowledge with stakeholders) in research and teaching would be an even more promising sign as it means that social knowledge from practitioners is integrated.
The empirical work involves the systematic analysis of selected programme and project documentation, as well as individual and focus group interviews with representatives of Swiss and European ITRT funders, with a view to comparatively assess the correspondence of types of non-academic actor engagement, types of inter- and transdisciplinarity called for in funding programmes, and ITRT outcomes. Intermediate results of the analysis are presented, discussed and refined by means of a Delphi process with an Expert Group established for this purpose. The CLEAR project is implemented on two parallel but linked tracks, one involving case-study based empirical research and the other one a Delphi process with an (academic and non-academic) Expert Group, which will iteratively guide, reflect on, and prioritize research findings from the empirical track. The Expert Group provides some guidance to the project but more importantly participate in the Delphi process. The Delphi method is a structured communication technique, often used for forecasting, where panels of experts areidentified and prioritize issues and revise them in successive rounds that introduce summaries of the previous round as well as new information. In the CLEAR project, the Delphi method is used to identify and test additional hypotheses and assumptions about ITRT funding, but also to promote the very dialogue between academic and non-academic experts that is deemed beneficial for the promotion of inter- and transdisciplinarity in research and teaching.
The embeddedness of the project in the European Higher Education Area, and the associated value added, is reflected in a number of core features and expected outcomes of the project. First, the project's choice of case studies demonstrates the importance of the European context: several of the funding programs for research and teaching are European (ERC, COST, H2020, ESPON, etc.) and several of these have more or less explicit inter- and/or transdisciplinary orientation (COST, H2020, ESPON, etc.). Through the identification and articulation of correspondence between types of involvement of non-academic experts and types of inter- and transdisciplinarity across programming and funding cycles and case studies, our project contributes to it by comparing the understanding and impact of key concepts between different funding and teaching programs and, in the process, highlighting alternative understandings. Not only does this provide the opportunity to learn from these programs, it also offers the chance to compare at different levels (between European programs, between European and Swiss programs, between programs with and without Swiss participation, etc.). We will present the first results of our research at the ECER Conference. Several publications are also planned in this direction.
Balsiger, J. and Debarbieux, B. (eds.). 2011. Regional Environmental Governance: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, Theoretical Issues, Comparative Designs. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences Vol. 14. Amsterdam: Elsevier. Balsiger, J. 2015. "Transdisciplinarity in the class room? Simulating the co-production of sustainability knowledge". Futures 65: 185-194. Boix Mansilla, V. 2006. "Assessing expert interdisciplinary work at the frontier: an empirical exploration". Research Evaluation 15(1): 17-29. Brown, V.A., Harris, J.A. and Russell, J.Y. 2010. Tackling wicked problems through the transdisciplinary imagination. London: Routledge. Darbellay, F. 2015. "Rethinking inter- and transdisciplinarity: Undisciplined knowledge and the emergence of a new thought style." Futures 65:163-174. Feller, I. 2006. Multiple actors, multiple settings, multiple criteria: issues in assessing interdisciplinary research. Research Evaluation 15(1): 5-15. Fiore, S. M. 2008. Interdisciplinarity as teamwork. How the science of teams can inform team science. Small Group Research 39: 251-277. Klein, J. T. 2008. "Evaluation of Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Research: A Literature Review." American Journal of Preventive Medicine 35 (2, Supplement): S116-S123. Lamont, M. 2009. How Professor Think: Inside the Curious World of Academic Judgment. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Lyall, C., Bruce, A., Marsden, W., Meagher, L. 2013. "The role of funding agencies in creating interdisciplinary knowledge". Science and Public Policy 40: 62-71. Mobjörk M. 2010 "Consulting versus participatory transdiciplinarity: a refined classification of transdisciplinary research". Futures 42: 866-873. National Academies, National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine, National Academy Press. 2005. Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research. Washington. Poteete, A. R., Janssen, M.A. and Ostrom, E. 2010. Working Together: Collective Action, the Commons, and Multiple Methods in Practice. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Spelt, E., Biemans, H., Tobi, H., Luning, P. and Mulder, M. 2009. "Teaching and learning in Interdisciplinary Higher Education: A Systematic Review". Educational Psychology Review 21:365-378. Stokols, D., Harvey, R., Gress, J., Fuqua, J. and Phillips, K. 2005. "In vivo studies of transdisciplinary scientific collaboration: Lessons learned and implications for active living research". American Journal of Preventive Medicine 28(2 Suppl 2): 202-213. Wiek, A., Withycombe, L. & Redman, Ch. 2011. "Key competencies in sustainability: a reference framework for academic program development". Sustainability sciences 6:203-218.
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