Transdisciplinary: context, contradictions and capacity



Publication Details

Russell, A. W., Wickson, F. Carew, A. L. (2008). Transdisciplinary: context, contradictions and capacity. Futures, 40 (5), 460-472.


Transdisciplinarity has been proposed as a response to the shifting knowledge landscape in contemporary society. It promises to bring universities and other knowledge organisations into line with new demands and opportunities. In this study, we have investigated drivers of change in the shifting landscape, and note disparate drivers that plot different courses for transdisciplinarity. We describe three drivers: ‘the knowledge economy’, ‘the environmental imperative’ and ‘the engaged populace’. We discuss their different prescriptions for transdisciplinary knowledge production and contradictions that arise from these, including tensions between consolidation and interconnection, and between knowledge commodification and mutual learning. In response, we suggest that rather than investing in knowledge ‘products’, universities should focus on developing capacity for transdisciplinarity, and for knowledge production generally.

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