Nurturing transdisciplinary graduate learning and skills through a community of practice approach

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Transdisciplinary Theory, Practice and Education: The Art of Collaborative Research and Collective Learning, 2018, pp. 133 - 149
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Building a home for mutual learning_Final_171009.docAccepted Manuscript version11.6 MB
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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018. Transdisciplinary (TD) research is increasingly recognized as a crucial response to global environmental and social challenges. To support this response, there is a growing need to create spaces where graduate researchers can learn the skills and dispositions needed for effective TD research. One way to develop such skills and dispositions is by building a supportive community of practice (CoP). In this chapter, we reflect on a nested set of CoPs established at the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF), University of Technology Sydney. ISF’s postgraduate research programme established a TD CoP in 2002 as a way to draw together a diverse group of disparate, disconnected students. We briefly outline the activities that support a TD CoP within ISF’s postgraduate programme and their links to TD skills and dispositions, before offering a detailed critical reflection on the role of our annual residential retreat in supporting mutual TD learning. Our reflection draws on feedback and evaluations conducted each year. Over the 2 days of the retreat, students and supervisors engage in thematic learning activities and discussions developed and facilitated collaboratively by the participants. Our reflections highlight the many tensions that need to be navigated in a TD CoP and point to the importance of nurturing social relations and trust as a foundation for collective TD learning. The landscape of TD research is rocky terrain for supervisors and students alike, and such terrain benefits enormously from, indeed, perhaps requires, an annual retreat or similar activity to nurture a thriving community of TD scholars.
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