Intrepid News

Intrepid Knowledge: Interdisciplinary & Transdisciplinary Research And Collaboration

Intrepid Knowledge: Interdisciplinary & Transdisciplinary Research and Collaboration

A book that tells the story of INTREPID, and of the journey upon which we…

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Lisbon Final Conference Outputs

Lisbon Final Conference Outputs

Lisbon Final Conference Outputs – videos, Jakob Kohlbrenner graphic recordings and pdf presentations are now…

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Gothenburg Workshop On Inter And Transdisciplinary Facilitation: Methodological Challenges And Good Practice

Gothenburg Workshop on Inter and transdisciplinary Facilitation: methodological challenges and good practice

A collaborative workshop was organized on 14th March 2019 at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg,…

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Roderick Lawrence New Book: Creating Built Environments, Bridging Knowledge and Practice Divides (Routledge)

He has synthesized his research about built environments from many countries and cities in our world that faces complex environmental, economic, health and other societal challenges. His research focuses on programs and projects that have bridged the knowledge – practice divide in numerous sectors and co-produced ecological and human-centered contributions despite the denial and inertia of several national governments and the skepticism of many individuals and institutions. These innovative projects include cooperative and collective housing that is attractive, affordable, accessible and adaptable in order to accommodate differences; affordable and healthy locally produced food by community-based farming in cities; nature based projects that provide outdoor public green spaces for multiple ecosystem services, including gardening, and experiencing different micro-climatic zones in cities while enabling awareness and recreation; and urban projects that challenge conventional transport policies and replace them by infrastructure that caters for individual and collective mobility for active and healthy living.

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Collective and creative consortia: combining knowledge, ways of knowing and praxis

Article written by: Roderick J. Lawrence

This paper is a think piece about planning and constructing built environments and infrastructure for healthy cities and communities founded on combinations of different types of knowledge and ways of knowing that include creative thinking. Hence, different disciplinary skills and competences should be interrelated, synthesized and applied creatively in complementary ways during concerted action between consortia of researchers, practitioners and representatives of civil society. Disciplines and professions should recognize the necessity of collective thinking that creatively combines knowledge, skills and competences in novel ways that respond to persistent problems in cities harmful to planetary health and human well-being. The paper discusses the dialectical and virtuous relations between discipline-based knowledge, profession-based know-how, and the ways of knowing of citizens. Then it advocates a mutual exchange between different types knowledge and ways of knowing by transdisciplinary contributions, because they enable a shared understanding of a problematic situation before it is changed. Creative and imaginative thinking are necessary to synthesize different types of knowledge and ways of knowing. This kind of contribution is illustrated by two large urban projects: the community-led Ringland Project for road traffic in Antwerp, Belgium, and the co-creation of a new housing cooperative in Zurich, Switzerland. Both projects have direct and indirect impacts on health.

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Research funding programmes aiming for societal transformations: ten key stages

Flurina Schneider, Tobias Buser, Rea Keller, Theresa Tribaldos and Stephan Rist

Societal issues such as poverty, water scarcity, and food insecurity make it more important than ever for science to produce knowledge that is relevant to address serious challenges on the ground. A growing number of research funding programmes emphasize the need for transdisciplinary (TD) co-production of knowledge as one way of making research part of needed societal transformations. Despite this positive trend, very few studies have focused in particular on how research funding programmes themselves could enhance the implementation of TD research. To address this gap, we explored processes and structures of TD research funding programmes, and created a generic model that explicitly shows the key stages relevant to the enhancement of TD research. Based on a discussion of these key stages with representatives of four TD research funding programmes we co-produced design recommendations that offer guidance for implementation of future programmes.

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Universities Must ‘reframe’ Goals And Agendas

Universities must ‘reframe’ goals and agendas

Olivia Bina Keynote addressed at the Mistra Urban Futures Annual International Conference, held in Cape Town, on 7 November 2018.

It’s time for universities across the globe to start becoming an active part of the solution to the multiple social, ecological and economic crises that are leading some scholars to call this the “Anthropocene age”. To do that, they should have the courage and desire to explicitly reframe their goals, systems and agendas towards contributing to human potential for building a sustainable, just future.

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INTREPID Knowledge & Thinking The COST Experience in interdisciplinarity

Bina, O (2018) The Cost Experience in InterdisciplinarityKeynote speaker at: Interdisciplinary Workshop, University of Siena, Certosa di Pontignano, 11thOctober.


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Interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research: finding the common ground of multi-faceted concepts

Authors: Henrik von Wehrden, Maria Helena Guimarães, Olivia Bina, Marta Varanda, Daniel J. Lang, Beatrice John, Fabienne Gralla, Doris Alexander, Dorit Raines, Allen White, Roderick John Lawrence

Inter- and transdisciplinarity are increasingly relevant concepts and research practices within academia. Although there is a consensus about the need to apply these practices, there is no agreement over definitions. Building on the outcomes of the first year of the COST Action TD1408 “Interdisciplinarity in research programming and funding cycles” (INTREPID), this paper describes the similarities and differences between interpretations of inter- and transdisciplinarity.

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As If U And Sustainability Mattered: U-you, U-niversity, U-theory, U-topia

As if U and sustainability mattered: U-you, U-niversity, U-theory, U-topia

By Olivia Bina

U for you

When was the last time you sat with two strangers and told them the story of your life, in three minutes?

Mine was eight weeks ago. It is harder than you think. And not just because of the embarrassment factor, but because one too rarely thinks of one’s whole life, let alone presenting it in three minutes. But it does achieve something precious: it tears down silos. Silos of me and you, of all those ideas of what makes us different, of what divides us, of the ‘what I do’ identities. It leaves you with something simpler, something about a shared humanity and a sense of what probably does matter and what probably does not (at least not that much).

U for University

It is from within this space that thirty-two people from fifteen countries began a journey to explore ‘The Future Of Universities, as if Sustainability Mattered’: a training programme centred around the question of how universities can be a positive force for transformation and change towards a more sustainable future.

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Using Ostrom’s social-ecological systems framework to set context for transdisciplinary research: A case study

by Maria Helena Guimarães

How can Elinor Ostrom’s social-ecological systems framework help transdisciplinary research? I propose that this framework can provide an understanding of the system in which the transdisciplinary research problem is being co-defined.

Understanding the system is a first step and is necessary for adequate problem framing, engagement of participants, connecting knowledge and structuring the collaboration between researchers and non-academics. It leads to a holistic understanding of the problem or question to be dealt with. It allows the problem framing to start with a fair representation of the issues, values and interests that can influence the research outcomes. It also identifies critical gaps as our case study below illustrates.

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New Open Access Book: Urban Planet

New open access book: Urban Planet

from David Simon and Sue Parnell (members of our International Advisory Board)
New open access book: Urban Planet, has now been published by Cambridge University Press is available for free electronic download from It includes several reflections on the types and ways of knowing needed to pursue urban research and urban policy making.
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Management of sustainability transitions through planning in shrinking resource city contexts: an evaluation of Yubari City, Japan

By  (one of our Barcelona Training School participants)

This paper evaluates the planning competences required to enact a managed transition to sustainability at the municipal level for cities facing population, economic and employment decline. Drawing on the ‘shrinking cities’ literature, we argue consolidation of the built environment can become a focal point for sustaining citizen welfare when transitioning cities that are facing decline, especially those previously reliant on resource industries. We evaluate the former coal mining city of Yubari, Japan, which is developing a consolidated urban form with the aim of creating a ‘sustainable’ future city. Findings from interviews and content analysis of Yubari’s planning policy indicate, however, that to translate ‘shrinking’ a city into a managed transition, spatial planning must be accompanied by a wider range of social policy measures and strong cross-sectoral engagement. We also caution that the unique geographical and political context of Yubari mean its model may not be directly replicable in other contexts.

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How transdisciplinary projects influence participants’ ways of thinking: a case study on future landscape development

Our COST INTREPID project “Exploring stakeholders’ perspectives to improve transdisciplinary projects in urban development” has  published its first paper:

Tobias, S., Ströbele, M.F. & Buser, T. (2018): How transdisciplinary projects influence participants’ ways of thinking: a case study on future landscape development.  Sustainability Science.


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Grant info: MSCA-ITN-2019: Innovative Training Networks- The European Training Networks (ETN) sub-programm

ETN is a PhD funding scheme that aims to train highly-skilled researchers and stimulate entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation in Europe. ETN provides funding for a network of PhD awarding institutions where each is recruiting PhDs which are also trained through secondment in other institutes in the networks.
Although not a formal eligibility requirement, it is expected that beneficiaries will be drawn from different sectors and that ETN proposals will offer intersectoral and interdisciplinary research training as well as high-quality supervision arrangements.

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Three tasks for transdisciplinary bridge builders

Community member post by Roderick J. Lawrence

Human groups and societies have built many kinds of bridges for centuries. Since the 19th century, engineers have designed complex physical structures that were intended to serve one or more purposes in precise situations. In essence, the construction of a bridge is meant to join two places together. What may appear as a mundane functional structure is built only after numerous decisions have been made about its appearance, cost, functions, location and structure. Will a bridge serve only as a link and passage, or will it serve other functions?

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COST multidisciplinary European research networks are key to FP9

The COST Committee of Senior Officials (CSO) published its position paper, highlighting the importance of multidisciplinary, bottom-up, open and inclusive networks, pleading for sufficient funding post Horizon 2020.

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Multipotentialities & specialists: This is a different take on multi no interdisplinarity and innovation

Emilie Wapnick: Why some of us don’t have one true calling

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“The real point is who owns the future, the purpose, the reason why something is done”

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The value of co-design /co-production as a methodology for promoting sustainable and just cities

By David Simon

“There are diverse approaches to transdisciplinary co-production/co-design/co-creation, which all share the key features of deep and extended participation.”

(Article based on the INTREPID Winter School training session on 16th Feb 2017)

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Energy Research & Social Science

Special Section on Enhancing the policy impact of energy research  was published in the April 2017 (Vol 26) of Energy Research & Social Science.  It should be relevant for those of us concerned not only with advancing research for climate and energy sustainability, but also those trying to manage or promote interdisciplinary research, or design academic research for maximum policy (and social) impact.

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Open Panel On “Experiments In Collaboration”

Open panel on “Experiments in Collaboration”

Felicity Callard was a keynote speaker at our Conference in January,  and she is now co-organising an exciting open panel on “Experiments in Collaboration”.

Experiments in collaboration: rethinking the human sciences in (or for?) an interdisciplinary age (CfP, Science in Public, Sheffield, 10–12 July 2017)

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Is social science useful?

Author: Andy Inch

“Though the traditional model of academic publishing and extractive research still dominate, there are arguably signs that it is breaking down. Albeit often in limited ways, opportunities to publish differently or to collaborate in new ways do seem to be opening up. These create new tensions that we have to navigate without losing our vital critical faculties, or the ability to explore alternatives. But if we accept that prevailing models of social science are not well equipped to make a difference then we should welcome any opportunity to reimagine the role and purpose of social research”.

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Pro-active learning to improve interdisciplinary processes

by Laura R. Meagher

All of us involved in the challenging (but rewarding) processes of interdisciplinarity, knowledge exchange and/or impact generation can be helped by deconstructing processes, timeframes and roles in real-time in order to progress toward effective collaborations and/or a full range of impacts. Early framing of expectations and identification of what would be telling ‘indicators’ of progress will inform necessary mid-course corrections.

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Interdisciplinarity in action: philosophy of science perspectives

by Uskali Mäki and Miles MacLeod

The present collection of studies aspires to promote this line of philosophical inquiry in terms of case studies on various aspects of interdisciplinarity in science, and to bring philosophical concepts and principles to bear in its analysis. While much current philosophical work has focused on the possibility of conceptual and methodological unification and integration amongst specific fields, we aim to widen the scope of philosophical treatment of this issue by mapping out the broader landscape of philosophical issues that emerge from interdisciplinary interactions, and by identifying the points where philosophical analysis can make important and relevant contributions. The guiding observations and principles in this endeavour include the following.

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LERU’s Interim Evaluation of Horizon 2020


This paper is LERU’s contribution to the Horizon 2020 Interim Evaluation. It is structured according to what is expected to be the structure of the Terms of Reference for the Interim Evaluation. The paper focuses very much on Horizon 2020 itself. LERU will publish a paper on the future, the next framework programme for research and innovation, in the first quarter of 2017

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Interdisciplinarity: how universities unlock its power to innovate, League of European Research Universities (LERU)

By Wernli, D. and Darbellay, F. (2016)
Modern universities were invented in Europe in the 18th century with an emphasis on research, the provision of high level education to each student, the unity between research and teaching, equality in status for each discipline, and academic freedom. This system led to remarkable scientific, technical, cultural, and societal progress.
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Trust & Time: two imperatives of research efforts

An interesting reflection on trust & time in science – two themes that came out repeatedly at our Tallinn Meeting 

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Transdisciplinarity is key to sustainable urban futures: David Simon and Susan Parnell

Both members of INTREPID’s International Advisory Board are co-authors in McPhearson et al (2016) Scientists must have a say in the future of cities, Nature, 538, 165-6

“Support transdisciplinary research and synthesis. Communities with relevant knowledge must guide urban-development policy over the short and long term. Transdisciplinary research must be supported through new sources of urban science funding and organizations. Existing knowledge should be synthesized and fed into policymaking at all levels.”

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Sheila Jasanoff: Framing Research With Citizens’ Perspectives

Sheila Jasanoff: Framing Research with Citizens' Perspectives

Research without society’s input lacks balance

Sheila Jasanoff is director of the program on science, technology and society at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard Kennedy School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. She is one of the world-expert on dissecting what’s in the mind of scientists when they take decisions about their research.

She often likes to strike a discordant note when speaking with scientists. As she did at ESOF2016 in Manchester, UK, where Euroscientist met her in July. In this interview, she warns that regulatory bodies alone cannot take decisions on thorny issues, such how to regulate gene editing technology CRISPR-Cas9, without involving society at large. She believes consulting citizens is a priority, even before framing the scientific problem.

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How Far Can Scholarly Networks Go? Examining the Relationships Between Distance, Disciplines, Motivations, and Clusters

By: Guang Ying Mo, Zack Hayat and Barry Wellman

This study aims to understand the extent to which scholarly networks are connected both in person and through information and communication technologies, and in particular, how distance, disciplines, and motivations for participating in these networks interplay with the clusters they form. The focal point for our analysis is the Graphics, Animation and New Media Network of Centres of Excellence (GRAND NCE), a Canadian scholarly network in which scholars collaborate across disciplinary, institutional, and geographical boundaries in one or multiple projects with the aid of information and communication technologies.

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Is interdisciplinarity '‘a term that everyone invokes and none understands’?

Certainly it seems that the discourse of the interdisciplinary is everywhere. Universities are busy promoting collaborative frameworks, breaking down subject barriers; research councils invite bids for funding on wide-ranging ‘themes’;  and everywhere there are ‘synergies’, ‘hubs’, and ‘centres’. Schools and departments are merged; individuals are physically relocated to work in close proximity with those from other disciplines. Horizontal networks abound. Discursively at least, the days of the disciplinary silo seem dead.

But definitions of interdisciplinarity are less easy to agree on.

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Disconnected, fragmented, or united? a trans-disciplinary review of network science

Applied Network Science 2016

By Cesar Hidalgo

During decades the study of networks has been divided between the efforts of social scientists and natural scientists, two groups of scholars who often do not see eye to eye. In this review I present an effort to mutually translate the work conducted by scholars from both of these academic fronts hoping to continue to unify what has become a diverging body of literature. I argue that social and natural scientists fail to see eye to eye because they have diverging academic goals. Social scientists focus on explaining how context specific social and economic mechanisms drive the structure of networks and on how networks shape social and economic outcomes.

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Big data meets small data

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Framing interdisciplinarity how (not) to collaborate across the science

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The use of academic research in planning practice: who, what, where, when and how?

By: Dominic Stead

The use of academic evidence in policymaking is certainly not a new issue – it has been a subject of enquiry for at least several decades. More recent is a trend of greater involvement of policy users in academic research, often based on underlying ideas that this will raise the quality of research, increase the influence of research on policymaking and/or improve the effectiveness of policymaking. Indeed, involving policy users in academic research to promote the co-creation of knowledge is an increasingly encountered requirement of research funding agencies across the world. This requirement not only places new demands and expectations on academics and policymaking professionals in the research process, it also adds to the importance of understanding the utilisation of academic research in practice.


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A new report by Lord Stern raises criticisms about the treatment of interdisciplinarity by the UK system of research evaluation (RAE)

‘The disciplinary “silos” embedded in the Unit of Assessment panel’ have meant that interdisciplinary research is often ‘regarded less favourably than mono-disciplinary research’, Stern says.

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Interdisciplinary Science: A Coming of Age?

By: Roderick J. Lawrence

The New York Academy of Sciences Magazine

Large global challenges, such as climate change, require a comprehensive approach, part of which should be interdisciplinary research.

Interdisciplinarity is a word à la mode, as shown by the contributions in Nature‘s special issue on the topic (September 2015). However, the collection of articles and the statistics they present confirm that interdisciplinary science is still not mainstream: it is still rarely supported by funders of scientific research despite the increasing number of calls for interdisciplinary projects, it is still rarely taught in higher education curricula, and it is still not recognized by many academic institutions. Indeed interdisciplinary research is considered by many to be contradictory to the basic principles of the production of scientific knowledge.

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Imagine shaping your future

Author: Olivia Bina

An inquiry into how art and science can at times disagree about our future, and why it matters

Science and research agendas are an exercise in future thinking. They help to shape futures by planning to create the knowledge that will bring about desired change and transformation. For this reason, research policy, matters.

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Interdisciplinary research has consistently lower funding success

Nature, June 2016

By Lindell Bromham, Russell Dinnage & Xia Hua

Interdisciplinary research is widely considered a hothouse for innovation, and the only plausible approach to complex problems such as climate change. One barrier to interdisciplinary research is the widespread perception that interdisciplinary projects are less likely to be funded than those with a narrower focus.

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Innovative Approaches to Interdisciplinarity in Planning Education - Building Capacity to Respond to Interconnected Contemporary Planning Challenges


Teaching in the broad field of planning is one of the main activities of AESOP Member Schools. Thus, in 2002, AESOP introduced a prize (http://www.aesop which recognizes and encourages Excellence in Teaching. Through this award, AESOP celebrates and disseminates innovative practices in teaching in its Member Schools.

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Urban Futures: Leading Interdisciplinary Efforts in Urban Sustainability

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COST Actions are considered "highly interdiscplinary"

The first 40 Actions funded under the COST Association show a highly interdisciplinary nature, with almost half of the Actions being related to two or three main OECD fields of Science and Technology.

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Nature’s  Special Issue On Interdisciplinarity

Nature's special issue on Interdisciplinarity

Nature’s special issue probes how scientists and social scientists are coming together to solve the grand challenges of energy, food, water, climate and health. This special scrutinizes the data on interdisciplinary work and looks at its history, meaning and funding.

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