Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Approaches

Academic knowledge practices are evolving and transforming as traditional approaches are viewed as no longer serving academia or society well. New collaborations and ways of working have emerged, and it is accepted that global social challenges can only be solved using an interdisciplinary approach and through partnerships with experts of all kinds beyond academia.

Interdisciplinary approaches can be found in our Bristol Studies in International Theory series, Global Migration and Social Change series, both the Global Discourse journal and the Global Social Challenges Journal, and increasingly across the scope of Bristol University Press and Policy Press publishing.

Bristol University Press and Policy Press are signed up to the UN SDG Publishers Compact.

Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Approaches

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The 2021 UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) awakened the world to the critical need for food systems transformation. Several commitments were made during the summit, with the UN Secretary-General reiterating the need to support national mechanisms that develop and implement national pathways to 2030 that are inclusive and consistent with countries’ climate commitments, building upon the national food systems dialogues. Much of the discussion in the post-summit era has mostly been high level and focused on how countries can be supported to transform pathways into strategies and to design and operationalise investment plans aimed at fostering sustainable and inclusive food systems transformation. However, what has been missing in these discussions is what the envisaged transformation means for the smallholder farmer, and what it takes for smallholder farmers to embrace the transformative agenda and transition to more sustainable methods of production. In this article, reference is made to two of the Five Action Tracks, namely Action Track 3 (boost nature-based solutions) and Action Track 5 (build resilience to vulnerabilities, shocks and stresses), whose central themes are anchored around resilience and sustainability. The paper discusses the underpinnings of nature-positive production systems and explores how these systems interface with smallholder farmers’ circumstances and production goals, and how this might affect implementation of the envisaged practices at the farm level. The central argument in this article is that discussions around food systems transformation must include the smallholder farmers, their lived experiences, socio-economic circumstances, aspirations and production goals.

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Avoiding both over-simplification and jargon-riddled complexity, this book is an invaluable, straightforward guide to participatory research for you and your fellow practitioners working with community groups and organisations.

The book offers a blueprint for your research project, taking you through each stage of the process, from planning your project to disseminating your findings. Keeping in mind imperatives such as engagement, involvement and voice, the book explores how best to conduct your research in ways which are meaningful for the participants.

The book includes valuable resources such as reflection points, chapter summaries and further reading lists. It will encourage and empower practitioners to plan and execute participatory research projects with confidence.

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In a neoliberal academia dominated by masculine ideals of measurement and performance, it is becoming more important than ever to develop alternative ways of researching and writing.

This powerful new book gives voice to non-conforming narratives, suggesting innovative, messy and nuanced ways of organizing the reading and writing of scholarship in management and organization studies. In doing so it spotlights how different methods and approaches can represent voices of inequality and reveal previously silenced topics.

Informed by feminist and critical perspectives, this will be an invaluable resource for current and future scholars in management and organization studies and other social sciences.

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The Poetics of Letting Go

This book invites the reader to think about collaborative research differently. Using the concepts of ‘letting go’ (the recognition that research is always in a state of becoming) and ‘poetics’ (using an approach that might interrupt and remake the conventions of research), it envisions collaborative research as a space where relationships are forged with the use of arts-based and multimodal ways of seeing, inquiring, and representing ideas.

The book’s chapters are interwoven with ‘Interludes’ which provide alternative forms to think with and another vantage point from which to regard phenomena, pose a question, and seek insights or openings for further inquiry, rather than answers. Altogether, the book celebrates collaboration in complex, exploratory, literary and artistic ways within university and community research.

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Creating a Global Future
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European and North American notions of helping - or managing - poor and marginalised people have deep roots in religious texts and traditions which continue to influence contemporary social policy and social work practice in ways which many do not realise.

Bringing together interdisciplinary scholarship, Mark Henrickson argues that it is essential to understand and critique social work’s origins in order to work out what to retain and what must change if we are to achieve the vision of a truly global profession.

Addressing current debates in international social work about social justice, professionalisation, and the legacy of colonisation, this thought-provoking book will allow practitioners and scholars to consider and create a global future for social work.

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This article considers the degree to which achieving equity in Global North–South research partnerships is possible under current UK funding models. While there has been significant discussion with respect to the decolonisation of research, it will be argued that there is some distance between the language of equity articulated currently by UK funding bodies, and the realities of working as a project partner in the Global South. The article draws on the prior and ongoing experiences of a multidisciplinary team of researchers brought together by a UK-funded research project. In the interests of moving towards more equitable systems of knowledge production and dissemination, it explores the power asymmetries that can be inherent in Global North–South research partnerships, and the extent to which issues of coloniality continue to shape aspects of research agenda setting, project framing, impact, academic publishing and the division of labour within partnerships.

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Despite obstacles, institutional barriers and prejudices, interdisciplinarity is a growing movement within academia. Evolving from the pioneering experiences in broad multidisciplinary ventures since the post–Second World War era, interdisciplinary programmes and research projects are now a worldwide reality in universities. Complex and interconnected challenges of humanity, such as social unrests, economic and ecological crises, political turmoil and global human health emergencies demand integration of efforts and competencies of researchers from a wide range of backgrounds, and the involvement of actors from outside the academia. In recent years, complex challenges fuelling the need for better integration of work in universities and research centres with real demands of societies are further feeding transdisciplinary endeavours. Such movements pose new questions, ranging from institutional arrangements to methodological frameworks, which are far from being solved. This article reflects on the nature and practice of scholarly engagement in this trajectory during the 21st century from vantage points of the Global South. Some insights are based on what we have learnt over our work lives, and some are based on collected information about experiences in India and Brazil. This contribution also raises questions that could potentially concern other countries, especially in the Global South. However, it is not a handbook directly applicable to realities other than Brazil and India. Discussions in academia about pathways to interdisciplinarity should go beyond its legitimisation. The agenda now has to shift towards transdisciplinary co-construction of knowledge, by creating gateways to connect the scientific world to the ‘real world’.

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Cutting across disciplines from science and technology studies to the arts and humanities, this thought-provoking collection engages with key issues of social exclusion, inequality, power and knowledge in the context of COVID-19.

The authors use the crisis as a lens to explore the contours of contemporary societies and lay bare the ways in which orthodox conceptions of the human condition can benefit a privileged few.

Highlighting the lived experiences of marginalised groups from around the world, this is a boundary spanning critical intervention to ongoing debates about the pandemic. It presents new ways of thinking in public policy, culture and the economy and points the way forward to a more equitable and inclusive human future.

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Hope for Life
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In the teeth of climate emergency, hope has to remain possible, because life insists on it. But hope also has to be realistic. And doesn’t realism about our plight point towards despair? Don’t the timid politicians, the failed summits and the locked-in consumerism all just mean that we have left things far too late to avoid catastrophe?

There is a deeper realism of transformation which can keep life powerful within us. It comes at the price of accepting that our condition is tragic. That, in turn, calls for a harsher, more revolutionary approach to the demands of the emergency than most activists have yet been prepared to adopt.

This is a book to think with, to argue and disagree with – and to hope with.

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