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Designing transdisciplinary sustainability science : a comparative analysis of a transdisciplinary research framework and design thinking

Perdelwitz, David LU (2017) In Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science MESM02 20171
LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
Abstract
Sustainability science has to solve some of the most complex problems of our times. So far, the field
of sustainability science is more known for its promises than its solutions. It is successful at creating
knowledge but is lacking in terms of developing actionable knowledge. The transdisciplinary process
incorporates practitioners and the people for whom the solution is intended in the research process.
This cooperative approach aims at creating solutions for science and practitioners within the same
research process. As such, transdisciplinary research is the most promising approach in sustainability
science to solve sustainability problems; however, its difficult execution is hindering its potential
success. Solutions for... (More)
Sustainability science has to solve some of the most complex problems of our times. So far, the field
of sustainability science is more known for its promises than its solutions. It is successful at creating
knowledge but is lacking in terms of developing actionable knowledge. The transdisciplinary process
incorporates practitioners and the people for whom the solution is intended in the research process.
This cooperative approach aims at creating solutions for science and practitioners within the same
research process. As such, transdisciplinary research is the most promising approach in sustainability
science to solve sustainability problems; however, its difficult execution is hindering its potential
success. Solutions for sustainability problems are urgently needed, so the advancement of
sustainability frameworks and approaches is necessary and relevant.
The aim of my research is to find out how and to which extent the design thinking can support the
advancement of the transdisciplinary framework by Lang et al. (2012) as it described the ‘ideal’
transdisciplinary research process. My approach is to compare the framework with design thinking and
analyze the differences to find points of improvement for transdisciplinary framework in sustainability
science. Using a qualitative comparative approach, I compare every single step of both frameworks to
define and analyze their differences.
The overall result of my research is that I found several potential ways to advance the transdisciplinary
framework by Lang et al. (2012). The inclusion of certain parts of design thinking can increase the
quality of the outcomes for the people the ‘product’ is intended for. Furthermore, my analysis shows
that problem understanding and solution development can be advanced. Another finding is the
opportunity to improve the guidelines of iteration of the transdisciplinary framework. This concerns
the iteration of steps within the process and the entire process. Iterations have far reaching benefits,
such as developing prototypes and additional feedback before the implementation of the final product.
Therefore, I argue for a better integration of iterative guidelines in the transdisciplinary framework.
However, the advancements may compromise the applicability of the transdisciplinary framework
towards actual research. The broad variety of sustainability problems prevented me from defining
specific criteria for its range of application. Therefore, I could only answer how the design process can
advance the transdisciplinary framework, but I could not fully answer to which extent. My thesis
establishes a first connection between design thinking and transdisciplinary sustainability science by
showing possible improvements for the framework by Lang et al. (2012. Further research regarding
the limitations and applicability in actual research processes are necessary to validate my findings. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Perdelwitz, David LU
supervisor
organization
course
MESM02 20171
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
problem solving, interdisciplinarity, research process, design thinking, sustainability science, comparative analysis
publication/series
Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science
report number
2017:034
language
English
id
8916852
date added to LUP
2017-06-21 16:08:19
date last changed
2017-06-21 16:08:19
@misc{8916852,
  abstract     = {Sustainability science has to solve some of the most complex problems of our times. So far, the field
of sustainability science is more known for its promises than its solutions. It is successful at creating
knowledge but is lacking in terms of developing actionable knowledge. The transdisciplinary process
incorporates practitioners and the people for whom the solution is intended in the research process.
This cooperative approach aims at creating solutions for science and practitioners within the same
research process. As such, transdisciplinary research is the most promising approach in sustainability
science to solve sustainability problems; however, its difficult execution is hindering its potential
success. Solutions for sustainability problems are urgently needed, so the advancement of
sustainability frameworks and approaches is necessary and relevant.
The aim of my research is to find out how and to which extent the design thinking can support the
advancement of the transdisciplinary framework by Lang et al. (2012) as it described the ‘ideal’
transdisciplinary research process. My approach is to compare the framework with design thinking and
analyze the differences to find points of improvement for transdisciplinary framework in sustainability
science. Using a qualitative comparative approach, I compare every single step of both frameworks to
define and analyze their differences.
The overall result of my research is that I found several potential ways to advance the transdisciplinary
framework by Lang et al. (2012). The inclusion of certain parts of design thinking can increase the
quality of the outcomes for the people the ‘product’ is intended for. Furthermore, my analysis shows
that problem understanding and solution development can be advanced. Another finding is the
opportunity to improve the guidelines of iteration of the transdisciplinary framework. This concerns
the iteration of steps within the process and the entire process. Iterations have far reaching benefits,
such as developing prototypes and additional feedback before the implementation of the final product.
Therefore, I argue for a better integration of iterative guidelines in the transdisciplinary framework.
However, the advancements may compromise the applicability of the transdisciplinary framework
towards actual research. The broad variety of sustainability problems prevented me from defining
specific criteria for its range of application. Therefore, I could only answer how the design process can
advance the transdisciplinary framework, but I could not fully answer to which extent. My thesis
establishes a first connection between design thinking and transdisciplinary sustainability science by
showing possible improvements for the framework by Lang et al. (2012. Further research regarding
the limitations and applicability in actual research processes are necessary to validate my findings.},
  author       = {Perdelwitz, David},
  keyword      = {problem solving,interdisciplinarity,research process,design thinking,sustainability science,comparative analysis},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science},
  title        = {Designing transdisciplinary sustainability science : a comparative analysis of a transdisciplinary research framework and design thinking},
  year         = {2017},
}