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Advancing Transdisciplinary Science

The world is increasingly interconnected, complex and uncertain. This has significant implications for the way we produce and use knowledge. For more than ten years the International Science council (ISC) has been promoting transdisciplinary science as a means of grasping and dealing with the complex, uncertain and contested nature of the major, interacting challenges facing humanity.

What is transdisciplinary science?

For the ISC, transdisciplinary science means the co-design of research and the co-production of knowledge together with communities and societal actors in a way that integrates diverse scientific and societal perspectives on given issues.

Transdisciplinary science not only helps to generate actionable, context-specific and more nuanced knowledge and solutions to specific challenges, it is also a form of science that is premised on building closer relationships between science, policy and practice.  

Our work

The International Science Council has been promoting transdisciplinary science most notably through…

…the creation of Future Earth, a global research network that promotes transdisciplinary research for a more sustainable planet. 

…the development and implementation of two pioneering international transdisciplinary research funding programmes:

…high-level discussions with national science funders, foundations and development agencies, and international scientific institutions on creating an enabling environment for transdisciplinary research (e.g. the Global Forum of Funders, the Global Research Council). 

Through these efforts, the ISC has generated extensive context-specific and actionable knowledge and data on a wide range of socio-ecological challenges in various parts of the world, as well as on conditions, opportunities and challenges for transdisciplinary research, and on how to build the institutional and scientific capacities required to successfully undertake this type of research.

Schneider, F., Patel, Z., Paulavets, K. et al. Fostering transdisciplinary research for sustainability in the Global South: Pathways to impact for funding programmes. Nature, Humanities and Social Sciences Communications 10, 620 (2023).

More recently, the ISC Centre for Science Futures has published this discussion paper, which looks at the emergence of transdisciplinarity, what it is, and what is needed for transdisciplinary research to thrive.

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