Beginning at the End: The outcome spaces framework to guide purposive transdisciplinary research

Publisher:
Elsevier
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Futures, 2015, 65 (January 2015), pp. 86 - 96
Issue Date:
2015-01
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The framework presented in this paper offers an alternative starting point for transdisciplinary research projects seeking to create change. The framework begins at the end: it distinguishes three distinct ‘transdisciplinary outcome spaces’ and proposes articulating their content for purposive transdisciplinary research projects. Defining upfront the desired improvements has profound implications for how transdisciplinary research is conceived, designed, implemented and evaluated. Three key realms of transdisciplinary outcome spaces are distinguished – situation, knowledge, and learning – and elaborated: (1) an improvement within the ‘situation’ or field of inquiry; (2) the generation of relevant stocks and flows of knowledge, including scholarly knowledge and other societal knowledge forms, and making those insights accessible and meaningful to researchers, participants and beneficiaries; and (3) mutual and transformational learning by researchers and research participants to increase the likelihood of persistent change. Positioning the framework in the field of transdisciplinary literature reveals that much of the contestation concerning transdisciplinary research and practice may be attributable to the diverse but implicit ontological and epistemological perspectives inhabited by transdisciplinary researchers, leading to a call for more reflexive and explicit attention to these and other formative influences (i.e. sources of funding, project motivation, or locus of power).
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