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File Transdisciplinary research

In this file, researchers and lecturers as well as young academics can find information on methodological approaches and the ongoing discourse in the transdisciplinary community. Research funding institutions and representatives of civil society will also find information on the forms and processes of research partnerships. The contents are the responsibility of the Network for Transdisciplinary Research of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences.

What is transdisciplinary research?

Vielfalt an Definitionen - Teaser

As it was developed in several fields, there is not just one way to explain what transdisciplinary research is. When focusing on addressing societal challenges, it aims at transgressing boundaries between scientific disciplines as well as between science and practice. It does so to develop knowledge that can help to solve, mitigate, or prevent societal challenges. In a nutshell, transdisciplinary research links societal problem solving with scientific knowledge production in a process of co-producing knowledge. More

Why transdisciplinary research?

TD people
Image: Katsia Paulavets, International Science Council

In today's world, we face complex challenges. Science is increasingly requested to find approaches to help to overcome them. But what kind of knowledge and research can help to address such complex societal challenges? Transdisciplinary research is increasingly seen as a promising approach to achieve this goal, as it integrates different perspectives, including different academic disciplines and non-academic knowledge. It brings together scientists, decision-makers, and affected people to analyse the problems, develop what they envision as desirable futures, and work on strategies and actions supporting the necessary changes. More

What does TD-Research create?

three types of knowledge
Image: Flurina Schneider und New Media Center Basel

In order to help to overcome societal challenges transdisciplinary research does not only create knowledge to understand a problem. It also generates knowledge that helps to overcome the problem. Therefore, it is important to produce three different kinds of knowledge: ‘Systems knowledge’ refers to analytical and descriptive knowledge about the actual state of the system. With ‘target knowledge’ we describe knowledge about desired future developments of the system. Finally, ‘transformation knowledge’ refers the knowledge about how we can move from the actual state to the more desirable state. More


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In recent years, the number of published articles with a reference to inter- and transdisciplinarity in English-language journals has increased significantly. It has therefore become difficult to maintain an overview. Publication radar since 1970

The td-net of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences continuously draws attention to new publications in its newsletter td-Info. These publications can be looked up on the website scince 2014. Publications on transdisciplinary research

Reading recommendations from the community.
Annual "Tour d'Horizon of Literature" since 2005

Introductory literature:
Recommended reading in inter- and transdisciplinarity: Introductory texts (td-net Delphi study 2013)


Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences
Network for Transdisciplinary Research (td-net)
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Transdisciplinarity (TD) asks for new approaches to research and teaching. Td-net supports entities interested in establishing TD in their institutions and/or projects with capacity building, coaching and networking.

A growing community of practice is involved, among other things with contributions in:

The ITD Alliance will provide a vehicle to increase visibility and coalesce work currently dispersed across continents. In this way, the Alliance will serve to catalyze greater collaboration focused on societal problem solving and understanding of complex issues. As a founding member, the td-net is in close contact with the ITD Alliance.