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October 2021 – What is the similarity between an iceberg and a fisherman?

Both are part of the Arctic system that was discussed in a workshop during the International Transdisciplinary Conference. Participants were invited to identify with one of the many elements of the Arctic system and embody their individual role and respond to the changing system. This playful and maybe slightly discomforting exercise illustrates what transdisciplinary science includes: focusing on interactions, open-mindedness for the perspective of others, and getting out of your disciplinary comfort zone.

Transdisciplinary as science is not just science FOR society, but science WITH society. Researchers can engage societal players from the start of the project as equal partners with their own share of unique and useful knowledge. In such a situation, researchers may experience that they may have a lot of theoretical and scientific knowledge about the Arctic, but do not have a clue about the information fisherfolk and other interested parties need to respond to climate change. To have real impact, this local knowledge is indispensable. The combined knowledge of scientists and societal actors may lead to solutions of complex problems that would otherwise not be found.

Transdisciplinary science is being practised in many scientific institutions and it is important to share experiences and methods to further develop this kind of research. During the International Transdisciplinary Conference, participants identified challenges and opportunities for transdisciplinary research of knowledge sharing. One important aspect is the creation of safe space to discuss “awkward” or “silly” questions and experiment with different approaches.

As a WIMEK/SENSE postdoc on transdisciplinarity, Jillian Student is looking for ways to improve the visibility of transdisciplinary research within the institute and make it part of the institutional DNA. At SENSE, we may want to think about how we can contribute to creating the necessary safe spaces and room for experimenting with transdisciplinarity within our SENSE network.

Anyone who is interested in these subjects and has questions or deas that they would like to discuss with Jillian, please feel free to contact her!

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Jillian Student

WIMEK Postdoc on Transdisciplinary Research

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