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.
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:
- Transformations to Sustainability (T2S, 2014–2022)
- Leading Integrated Research for Agenda 2030 in Africa (LIRA 2030, 2016-2021)
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.
- Some of the key comparative learning from these efforts is captured in Paulavets, K., Moore, S. and Denis, M. 2023. Advancing transdisciplinary research in the Global South. R. Lawrence (ed.), Handbook of Transdisciplinarity: Global Perspectives. Edward Elgar.
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.