The challenges of transdisciplinary knowledge production: from unilocal to comparative research

The challenges of transdisciplinary knowledge production: from unilocal to comparative research by David Simon, Henrietta Palmer, Jan Riise, Warren Smit, Sandra Valencia, reflects on the work done through the Mistra Urban Futures (MUF) research centre and its local interaction platforms in Sweden, the UK, South Africa and Kenya.

The paper surveys the lessons learnt and challenges faced by MUF in developing and deploying different forms of transdisciplinary co-production of knowledge. Considerable experience with a distinctive portfolio of such methods has been gained and reflective evaluation is now under way. While it is important to understand the local context within which each method has evolved, we seek to explain the potential for adaptation in diverse contexts so that such knowledge co-production methods can be more widely utilized. Furthermore, the current phase of MUF’s work is undertaking innovative comparative transdisciplinary co-production research across its research platforms. Since the specific local projects differ, systematic thematic comparison requires great care and methodological rigour. Transdisciplinary co-production is inherently complex, time consuming and often unpredictable in terms of outcomes, and these challenges are intensified when it is undertaken comparatively.

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