Solving/understanding/evaluating the e-waste challenge through transdisciplinarity?

Mary Lawhon*, Panate Manomaivibool, Hiromi Inagaki

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Transdisciplinarity has been accepted as a promising research approach to respond to complex real-world problems such as electronic waste (e-waste). Already one of the fastest growing waste streams, e-waste is a sustainability challenge that shadows the pervasive uses of electronic devices in contemporary society. Previous studies have not only shown the toxicity and risks inherent in the hazardous waste but also economic value generated from its reuse and recycling and the environment justice implications of the existing transboundary movement of e-waste to developing countries. Responding to this multifaceted issue requires a transdisciplinary attempt at synthesis understandings, if not solutions. This paper reflects on an educational experiment to encourage disciplinary boundary crossing in the e-waste community through a summer school. The NVMP-StEP E-waste Summer School housed young researchers from diverse disciplines with a common research interest in e-waste. The event is evaluated against three sets of criteria that underpin successful transdisciplinary ventures: (i) clear, problem-oriented goals, (ii) careful preparation, institutional support and competent management, and (iii) communication and collaboration. Based on understandings and insights gained from the participation in the Summer School, participant surveys, and communications with organizers, six recommendations are outlined to help making similar events a better ground for transdisciplinarity in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1212-1221
Number of pages10
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2010


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