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Defining Terms for Integrated (Multi-Inter-Trans-Disciplinary) Sustainability Research

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  • Paul Stock

    ()
    (Centre for the Study of Agriculture, Food and Environment and Department of Sociology, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand)

  • Rob J.F. Burton

    ()
    (Centre for Rural Research, N-7491 Trondheim, Norway)

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    Abstract

    Our contemporary social and ecological problems, including climate change, peak oil and food security, necessitate solutions informed by multiple backgrounds that singular disciplines seem unable to provide, and possibly, are even incapable of providing. The increasing occurrence of multi-, inter- and transdisciplinary (MIT) research projects speak to the recognition of that necessity. But as the literature and our own experiences bear out, just calling a project “beyond disciplinary” or integrated does not necessarily yield the intended outcomes or make progress toward alleviating the hurdles of bridging disciplines. Here we examine the distinctions between three categories (multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary) of integrated research and offer reflections on how sustainability researchers can categorize their research to improve common understandings.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by MDPI, Open Access Journal in its journal Sustainability.

    Volume (Year): 3 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 8 (July)
    Pages: 1090-1113

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    Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:3:y:2011:i:8:p:1090-1113:d:13324

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    Related research

    Keywords: transdisciplinary; sustainability; multidisciplinary; interdisciplinary; integrated research; research project; methods;

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    1. Max-Neef, Manfred A., 2005. "Foundations of transdisciplinarity," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 5-16, April.
    2. Aeberhard, Andrea & Rist, Stephan, 2009. "Transdisciplinary co-production of knowledge in the development of organic agriculture in Switzerland," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(4), pages 1171-1181, February.
    3. Luks, Fred & Siebenhuner, Bernd, 2007. "Transdisciplinarity for social learning? The contribution of the German socio-ecological research initiative to sustainability governance," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2-3), pages 418-426, August.
    4. Hirsch Hadorn, Gertrude & Bradley, David & Pohl, Christian & Rist, Stephan & Wiesmann, Urs, 2006. "Implications of transdisciplinarity for sustainability research," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 119-128, November.
    5. Hammer, Monica & Soderqvist, Tore, 2001. "Enhancing transdisciplinary dialogue in curricula development," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 1-5, July.
    6. C. Hinrichs, 2008. "Interdisciplinarity and boundary work: challenges and opportunities for agrifood studies," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, vol. 25(2), pages 209-213, June.
    7. Vandermeulen, V. & Van Huylenbroeck, G., 2008. "Designing trans-disciplinary research to support policy formulation for sustainable agricultural development," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 352-361, October.
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