Transdisciplinarity in urban South Africa

A. Goebel*, T. Hill, R. Fincham, M. Lawhon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The ideals and assumptions associated with a transdisciplinary approach to environmental issues are investigated through the experience of a three-year research project in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa focused on low-cost housing. Through this work, transdisciplinarity was conceptualised not as a panacea to create an all-encompassing research approach, but as an attempt to move away from paradigm isolation and allow researchers to integrate and develop a synthesis from their separate contributions. The paper discusses aspects of transdisciplinarity including definitions, methodologies, team-building, paradigmatic rigidities, the negotiation of power in the production of knowledge with stakeholders and community partners, and institutional challenges. Trade-offs include loss of data resolution at times, but are offset by deeper understanding of the complexities and constraints of applied environmental and social research in contemporary South Africa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-483
Number of pages9
JournalFutures
Volume42
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010

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