Transdisciplinarity and the ‘living lab model’: Food waste management as a site for collaborative learning

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Transdisciplinary Theory, Practice and Education: The Art of Collaborative Research and Collective Learning, 2018, pp. 117 - 131
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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018. This chapter introduces the concept of a ‘Transdisciplinary Living Lab (TDLL)’ based on an initiative at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) to involve design students in the transdisciplinary research context of food waste management on campus. In the higher education context, on-campus Living Labs are one way an environment can be created to support transdisciplinary (TD) education. The UTS TDLL involved the collaborative participation of design academics, campus facilities management, industry and government experts with students from disciplines of Fashion and Textile Design, Product Design, and Visual Communication who, through team-based learning, contributed to generating propositions for managing food waste on-campus. In integrating a transdisciplinary approach with the living lab model, we had a number of educational goals, including enabling and encouraging students to integrate their own knowledge and experience as actors in the system into the final design proposition, and to critically reflect on broader impacts of their work on the environment and society beyond the confines of the campus. The resulting student projects moved beyond traditional technological and artefact-based design solutions to socially and culturally sensitive responses to a complex problem with input from a broad range of participating stakeholders. The project also proposes a model for transdisciplinary education onsite at the university, offering a way to bring those actors most impacted by a system into the design of that system.
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