Transdisciplinarity at the Crossroads: Nurturing Individual and Collective Learning

Carleton University
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Technology Innovation Management Review, 2018, 8 (8), pp. 41 - 49
Issue Date:
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Practitioners of transdisciplinary inquiry, which we define to include research, learning, collaboration, and action, encounter innumerable tensions. Some tensions are universal, while others are unique to that particular inquiry at that point in time. Resolving these tensions requires innovative practices, which emerge through experience with transdisciplinary inquiry. In this article, we reflect on two decades of transdisciplinary inquiry at the Institute for Sustainable Futures. Drawing on that experience, we argue that one crucial innovative practice is to create space for collective, reflective learning. Such learning frequently takes place in spaces we call “crossroads”. These are formal and informal spaces where practitioners who have been on their own transdisciplinary learning journeys (experiencing diverse tensions and applying diverse approaches) come together in dialogue to share, reflect, critically and constructively question, imagine, challenge, and synthesize their experiences into collective organizational learning. Crossroads can emerge spontaneously but can also be consciously nurtured. In our experience, they help us to sustain the innovation needed for transdisciplinary inquiry and to avoid stagnation or routinization. At these reflective, and often times transformative, crossroads, we make sense of our messy, non-linear transdisciplinary journeys and develop innovations to take our transdisciplinary practices forward.
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