Collaboration, creativity, conflict and chaos: doing interdisciplinary sustainability research

Cairns, Rose, Hielscher, Sabine and Light, Ann (2020) Collaboration, creativity, conflict and chaos: doing interdisciplinary sustainability research. Sustainability Science. ISSN 1862-4057

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How do the social dynamics within interdisciplinary research teams shape sustainability research? This paper presents a case study of interdisciplinary research projects at the University of Sussex, as part of a programme aimed at encouraging collaborative work to address intersections between the Sustainability Development Goals. Using data gathered during a series of participatory workshops at the start and end of the projects, combined with non-participant observation and analysis of project discussions during the lifetime of the projects, we examine the diverse ways in which research teams configure themselves to navigate the terrain of interdisciplinary sustainability research and the kinds of social and discursive dynamics that shape projects. In particular, we relate the emergence of distinct project team configurations to diverse problem framings, and aspirations for collaboration within these teams. We examine some of the challenges facing researchers attempting to work in these ways, and explore implications of these dynamics for knowledge production for sustainability. We conclude by drawing out and addressing some of the challenges for institutions funding and supporting interdisciplinary sustainability research.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: interdisciplinarity; SDGs; collaboration; integration; higher education
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
School of Engineering and Informatics > Engineering and Design
Research Centres and Groups: Sussex Sustainability Research Programme
Depositing User: Ann Light
Date Deposited: 24 Jun 2019 16:28
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2020 15:00

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