Agriculture Reference
In-Depth Information
Transdisciplinary Scholarship
known. The researchers will need to manage the
rigour of the research, but the research will
be done in a fishbowl unlike our traditional
research expectations of objective separation.
Transdisciplinary scholarship that encom-
passes all of the above is essential when working
in the arena of wicked problems. This realization
is entirely consistent with the historic and
contemporary literature that surrounds wicked
problems and sustainability. (See Fear et al . (2006),
Batie (2008), Bitsch (2009), Thompson (2010)
and Peterson (2011), for contemporary analyses
re lated to agricultural and natural resource systems.)
Knowledge institutions and their scholars have
a role in managing wicked problems like sustain-
ability when they understand how research can
be beneficial to the process outcomes as well as
the more traditional system outcomes. Research
in the wicked problem context cannot simply be
undertaken in the matter of normal science
(Kuhn, 1962; Batie, 2008) - stakeholders artic-
ulate a problem and possible causes with rele-
vant scientists; the scientists go off to their labs
or other experimentation places to analyse, cre-
ate and test solutions; and, finally return with
the solution for the stakeholders to implement.
The linear model of science has limited applica-
tion. The problems and causes are too complex
for once-and-done definition, and the time away
for experimentation gives rise to issues of trans-
parency, stakeholder understanding and com-
mitment, and knowledge legitimacy.
The linear model needs to give way to far
more messy process of transdisciplinary research.
Multiple disciplines will be required to create the
knowledge and innovation for changing the trajec-
tory of the system and process outcomes. All facul-
ties of a knowledge institution will be needed from
natural science, social science and humanities.
Wicked problems force those of us in the academy
to go beyond multidisciplinary approaches (pool-
ing individual disciplinary knowledge) demanding
instead transdisciplinary approaches (collective
disciplines creating new knowledge together).
Transdisciplinary research has power to unite the
knowledge actors while drawing upon and
transcending individual disciplines.
But transdisciplinary research is not
enough. The situation calls for moving to
full transdisciplinary scholarship by combining
transdisciplinary research with transdiscipli-
nary outreach and education and engagement
with stakeholders as peers throughout the
process. The stakeholders need to be engaged
throughout the research enterprise in order to
have its results be meaningful and legitimate to
the desired process outcomes. The stakeholders
cannot merely be there at the beginning of the
process (to articulate their needs) and at the
end of the process (to receive the results). They
must be there throughout the process to assure
that the research stays on track and will have
stakeholder credibility when the results are
Two Dairy Examples
Two examples are offered of multi-stakeholder
innovation processes that have in their own way
created changes in the trajectory of dairy sus-
tainability. The examples demonstrate that real
world actors are working with the concepts that
are laid out in this chapter. Many other examples
likely exist, but they show in a 'boots on the
ground' sense how to manage (not solve) sus-
tainability. The author has extensive personal
knowledge of both examples in addition to spe-
cific source material including the SAI website
(SAI, 2012) and the topic Sustainable Agricultural
Entrepreneurship (van Altvorst et al ., 2011).
The first example is the Sustainable
Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform developed
in 2002 by Nestlé, Unilever and Danone. Since
its founding, SAI has grown to some 40 mem-
bers that represent stakeholders throughout
the global food supply chain. The unique char-
acteristics of SAI include:
Being the only global food industry initia-
tive for sustainable agriculture;
Seeking involvement from all food chain
Gathering and developing knowledge on
sustainable agriculture which is then
openly shared with all interested parties;
Pursuing an inclusive approach to knowl-
edge development from any valuable initia-
tives and projects from whatever legitimate
source, including integrated and organic
farming; and
Implementing concepts and best practices
through a continuous improvement process.
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