It is not just the demand for transdisciplinary research that has risen in recent years; there is also a growing need for exchange and networking between researchers and practitioners whose work makes use of participatory research formats. The Society for Transdisciplinary and Participatory Research now provides a point of contact for this. It was founded as an independent special-interest group on 9 March 2023 at the instigation of the tdAcademy research platform along with other key actors from the research community. The public inaugural event will be held on 10 May 2023 at the TU Berlin.
Scientific expertise is certainly called for to tackle the major challenges that society faces today. However, the problem constellations of issues such as climate change or biodiversity loss are too complex and full of interdependencies to be solved using knowledge from individual disciplines alone. Even a purely interdisciplinary exchange can scarcely do justice to this level of complexity. Scientific research needs to incorporate real-world knowledge and societal perspectives on the problem constellations if it is to find appropriate solutions.
To strengthen and further establish these scientific approaches, researchers from the tdAcademy, a research and community platform for transdisciplinarity (td-academy.org) funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), have now joined forces with transdisciplinary and participatory researchers to found the Society for Transdisciplinary and Participatory Research.
Enhancing societal and scientific outcomes for transformation
The Society considers itself a contact point and an independent special-interest group for transdisciplinary and participatory researchers, and represents their interests to the political sphere, funding institutions and others, as the team from tdAcademy and representatives of the expert community explain. At the same time, they emphasise the great need for networking, promotion and further establishment of this field of research.
“These comparatively new research approaches and modes are increasingly taking centre stage when it comes to shaping the transformation processes towards sustainability,” says Dr Melanie Mbah, the research coordinator for transdisciplinary studies at the Oeko-Institut and a founder member of the new Society. “This calls for innovative formats, such as living labs or artistic approaches, for example, in order to integrate the context into transdisciplinary research and boost its impacts.”
Networking of the research landscape – founder membership still possible
The founding of the Society for Transdisciplinary and Participatory Research is expressly welcomed by numerous university-based and non-university researchers from the German-speaking and international research community, and by representatives of the BMBF. The Society is open to admitting additional members.
The public founding event will be held on 10 May 2023 from 18.30 to 20.00 h at the Technische Universität Berlin. Opening addresses by the Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister of Education and Research, Mario Brandenburg, the Chair of the German Advisory Council on Global Change, Prof. Dr Sabine Schlacke and the President of the Technische Universität Berlin, Prof. Dr Geraldine Rauch will be followed by keynote speeches by Prof. Dr Helga Nowotny and Prof. Dr Uwe Schneidewind.