Discussion of Transdisiplinary Practices for Mountain Sustainability – Part I
(A list of participants is at the end of this document)
Summary of Comments:
CA: in practice, transdisciplinary projects are not linear like Robin’s figure. We need to recognize the complexities of reality. Has this figure been cross-referenced with literature on transdisciplinarity from TD net? The terminology of the figure resonates, but the linearity needs to be addressed. At the International Transdisciplinary Conference in Switzerland, they recognized a need for more diverse stakeholders.
AN: the steps in the figure are not the entire experience. Oregon is very developed, everyone speaks the same language, but communication is still a challenge. Different ontologies and epistemologies create challenges. Do we need a way to recognize errors and “have a do-over” or “course correct” during a transdisciplinary project?
CA: terminology of transdisciplinarity is very technical, and many projects don’t use “co-design” or “co-creation” terminology with stakeholders on the ground, they are really just a way to communicate back to scholars. Some practitioners really adverse to those words. As Anne mentioned, different world views can produce misunderstandings about collaboration. We need to recognize those ontologies and epistemologies at the beginning of a project, which many people do not do and which is not well described in the literature.
AN: during our project, economists and hydrologists couldn’t agree on the meaning of water scarcity
AA: working with farmers in the Andes, came to wonder who does this knowledge production really benefit? How does it impact livelihoods? Researchers have assumptions and pick the research questions for the most part, but people on the ground see things differently
JK: that is similar to the question of who initiates the project? That might change the focus of the project, if the community initiates the project instead of the researcherEmily: We might need a pre-step 0 in the figure. We need to advocate for co-production of knowledge with stakeholders ahead of time so that everyone is comfortable with the process. We are trying to bring together people with histories, and they might not want to talk to one another, and some people might behave badly if they are not comfortable. We need to prepare people.
Jipan: citizen science is very similar. What are people really getting out of our research? We are in effect just knowledge brokers, and we need to increase our communication to stakeholders. Additionally, we need to engage policy makers from the very beginning of the project.
RM: There are many outputs/conduits/avenues for communication. Good journal articles are great, but we also need to up our game with regards to films and other accessible media that can be done in local languages for people. We need policy briefs in a language and structure that policy makers want and need, NOT what we THINK they want and need. Workshops and trainings in schools and community groups, community radio, are all good ways to communicate to a wide variety of people.
JK: the immediate outcomes we can get from this meeting are resources, tools, and examples from the Mountain Sentinels community. TD net is great. Other resources are also welcome, and we will make them available on our website.
RM: posted videos on our kite site at York. It will be good to bring this group together with those resources.
CA: database of community projects done without academia involved. They do want to collaborate with academia, but there is some benefit to the speed at which projects occur with only community involvement. The quick and dirty transdisciplinary approach – something academics can learn from?
JK: reminds me of up and coming scholars who are focusing their work on transdisciplinary projects that might not be seen as traditional science by others in academia. What is the responsibility of older scientists to these early career people? Do we need to advocate for their work in academic circles?
AA: research for development is very limited in academia. Everyone has an agenda. Where can I do the most good? Not sure it’s in academia and the race for publications. Do older scholars have any advice? It does seem that institutional networks are becoming more complex – so perhaps we can be both academics AND development practitioners?
JK: It does seem that people later in their careers can take more risks.
AR: we sort of standardized the idea of the “stakeholder” during our workshop in France. But still, what is knowledge? Politicians and administrators have a different process for the production of knowledge, so they are a subset of stakeholder that needs to be considered separately from researchers and rural peoples. Does science inform the knowledge process for policy makers? We like to think so, but doubtful. What filters are they applying? We need to work more closely with them.
Michael: Need to improve synchrony between researchers and policy makers. We need to move forward together. Happy to put forward a draft of a policy brief that we can work on.
Karim’s note read by Julia: early career scientists need to take intellectual risks, but align yourselves with scholars who understand them.
CT: love Michael’s idea, we tried to put together a stakeholder brief at the France workshop, but this would be even more policy oriented. Happy to jump in on that.
RM: the “impact agenda” is strong in the UK. They have 2 postdocs that we should work with.
CA: FAO Mountain Partnership is a good organization to align with at the science-policy interface. COP, sustainable development goals, these are good places to engage. Can we contribute to evaluation of the SDGs?
JK: Summary. Please send feedback on the structure of the virtual coffee. Please send ideas for themes of future sessions!
Questions/Comments/Resources that People Provided during the webinar
CA: RE COP22, just wanted to mention that Mountain Partnerhsip is very active as a participant and advocate/rep for the mountain community, and also the UIAA has applied to be an observer at COP negotiations…will keep you posted on what we propose to do at COP22, if and when we get observer status.
MA: Very interested in Michael´s idea as well, model of communication and policy impacts at the micro/meso scale (??).
KK: Colleagues, I have to leave for the next commitment but here are examples of four films made from collaborative work with indigenous communities: http://www2.dnr.cornell.edu/kassam/outcomes.html My suggestion to the younger scholars is to take intellectual risks but make sure you align yourself with scholars who understand them and will provide support during your review. Be well and thrive.
MK: Thank you to Aaron for acknowledgingminority rights and political marginalization of rural peoples as one obstacle in all of this, and need to connect with policymakers. This will be key if knowledge generated is going to be more systematically incorporated into practice at local level (though MP was noted as a venue…) Thanks again. Cheers,
MKMM: I hope we can keep the conversations going between these monthly webinars via a Google Doc, etc… I agree this was a good first conversation, look forward to ongoing participation.
RM: As mentioned much of the work we do we put up on the KITE site https://www.york.ac.uk/environment/research/kite/
Also plenty of information here http://chiesa.icipe.org CHIESA has now been funded for another 3 years and we have quite details adapation plans for a number of African mountains that have been co-designed from the startAs mentioned Suzi Richer as out science to impact person would be someone who could be a valuable addtion to this group
AR: I have a comment to make regarding how different types of knowledge are legitimized, and recognition of a third tier of knowledge makers/holders: policy makers, administrators, resource managers
June 2016 Virtual Coffee Participants
Smid Hribar, Mateja