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Implications of transdisciplinarity for sustainability research

In ecological economics the terms sustainable development and transdisciplinarity are closely related. It is shown that this close relation is due to the fact that research for sustainable development has to be issue oriented and reflect the diversity, complexity and dynamics of the processes involved as well as their variability between specific problem situations. Furthermore, the knowledge of people involved and their needs and interests at stake have to be taken into account. There are three basic and interrelated questions about issues to be addressed in sustainability research: (1) In which way do processes constitute a problem field and where are the needs for change? (2) What are more sustainable practices? (3) How can existing practices be transformed? To treat them properly, transdisciplinary research is needed. The emergence of transdisciplinary research in the North and the South is described. By distinguishing analytically among basic, applied and transdisciplinary research the challenges that have to be tackled in transdisciplinary projects are analyzed.
Gertrude Hirsch Hadorn, David Bradley, Christian Pohl, , Stephan Rist, Urs Wiesmann