Transdisciplinary (TD) research is primarily a process than it is a product. In plain terms, it typically involves:
- Mixing academic knowledges from multiple disciplines
- Mixing applied knowledges through collaboration with industry
- Co-design with stakeholders, including end-users through a human-centred approach
Through that approach, transdisciplinary research does more than generate publications. Because engagement with stakeholders is built in from the design stages of research projects, it inherently involves mutual learning, engagement and impact for all parties involved. TD methods result in the co-production of knowledge by the people in the project, resulting in new insights and new ways of working.
TD research is ideally suited to problem spaces that are open, complex, dynamic and networked. It goes beyond solving discrete problems by opening doors to new questions and digs deeper at root causes instead of targeting symptoms.
In many cases, the solution is unknown or even unknowable at the start of a project. TD research, therefore, requires keeping an open mind about its direction. The impact of the project may also emerge during or long after the project. This requires a shift in mindsets from competing about owning a problem or solution towards collaboration. This is also a shift from seeking answers towards embracing curiosity, as well as a shift from focussing on outputs towards outcomes.
We often harness the potential of TD research by integrating it in our learning & teaching by presenting industry challenges as in-class pilot studies. Students benefit from learning and applying TD research methods. Industry partners benefit from early insights by students and opportunities to recruit bright minds. Researchers benefit from in-class pilot studies by getting to know the industry partners, the challenges they face.
At TD School, we are broadly interested in numerous TD research methods. Within TD School, we have identified four research themes for us to focus on. Meanwhile, we simultaneously enable other research teams across UTS to include TD methods in their projects (aka ‘powered by TD School’).
Watch this video by our Director of Research, Martin Bliemel at Res Hub Launch: Transdisciplinary research as an impact engine: What is it? What does it mean for end-user engagement? How does TD School enable it across UTS?
For further reading about transdisciplinary research, we recommend our Open Access Special Issue on Transdisciplinary Innovation in the Technology Innovation Management Review.
We also recommend listening to Episode 5 of the Impact at UTS podcast Breaking Out of Your Research Silo
Our Research Themes
At TD School, we have chosen to focus on four key themes:
We take a near and far future-focused approach to thriving amidst complex challenges. Our research aims to understand drivers of change and identify opportunities through creative and pragmatic collaborations. It contributes to developing novel insights, transdisciplinary futures frameworks, innovative practices and experiences across diverse contexts, including work, health and sustainability. How will we work, learn, thrive and play in the future? How can we best anticipate and respond to uncertainty, and create change, to ensure regenerative wellbeing for humanity and the planet? Learn more about Futures Theme.
The primary objective of the Sustainable Societies theme is to act as enablers for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our primary research investigates the barriers and enablers to sustainable development in targeted problems spaces, which are chosen by mutual agreement with our partners, stakeholders and funding agencies. We engage in projects which facilitate mutual learning between key university, industry, government and civil society stakeholders. Our projects are prioritised based on our expertise and where new knowledge generated from our work may have an impact. Learn more about Sustainable societies Theme.
Technology and Humanity
Technology can transform the way we live our lives – as much in positive as in negative ways – and redefine what it means to be human. How can we ensure that technological change happens responsibly and that it promotes an equitable and sustainable society? Learn more about Technology and Humanity Theme.
Research in this theme investigates the transformative potential of learning for individuals, organisations, and society. We learn from, and with stakeholders across all stages of their lives and careers, to co-create research that builds new practices, new models of learning and a fresh ambition for the future of learning in our society. Learn more about Transformative Learning Theme.
Email us at TDSchool.RO@uts.edu.auto understand how you could participate in one of our projects and courses.