How contexts determine research processes and therefore what factors need to be considered against different cultural backgrounds is a key question in academia. In transdisciplinary research, in fact, a double contextual dependency emerges: on the one hand transdisciplinary research is carried out in specific contexts, but on the other it aims to provide systematisable, operationisable and transferable methods and results. Under topic line 3 we therefore ask how methodological processes can be adapted in order to be able to transfer specific findings and facilitate multifaceted learning processes between cases.

Context in Transdisciplinary Research

The fundamental orientation of transdisciplinary research towards societal problems already highlights the fact that both research object and research practice are highly dependent on the respective context to which they relate and in which they occur. Contextual dependencies impact on the methodological shaping of research processes as well as on the insights gained. One of the challenges and one of the primary concerns of many transdisciplinary research processes is to ensure the transferability of results and insights gained in individual cases – i.e. initially idiographic and case-related results and findings – to a superordinate level. Here, it is already clear from cases where there are similar core cultural assumptions (particularly in terms of academic culture) that it is necessary to adapt shaping principles to different contexts – e.g. in democratic “western” countries. The need for adaptation becomes particularly clear, however, when we take into consideration the diversity of cultural contexts, e.g. in countries in the Global South or autocratic regions. Under topic line 3 we would like to build on some initial starting points in the discourse around contextual dependencies in transdisciplinary research.

Case Studies and Dialogue with the Specialist Community

Under this topic line we explicitly ask how ideal-typical models of a transdisciplinary research process as well as quality criteria can be generated and used. How can we promote context-sensitive processes and designs? We therefore focus on the interplay between contextualisation and decontextualisation in academic practices. Here, an initial intensive literature review forms the basis for two case study analyses (a comprehensive and an in-depth study). These are supplemented with dialogue forums and a reflection workshop in order to ensure continual dialogue with the specialist community. Both formats tend to be exploratory in character.

Networking and Intercultural Communication

The tdAcademy sees itself as a knowledge network that can be used to help ensure broader application of transdisciplinarity as a research principle. We support this concern under this topic line primarily by developing a broad range of capacity-building and coaching formats. The aim here, in particular, is to incorporate next-generation academics. This is how we make effective methods and concepts accessible to a broader community. The aim of our Guest and Fellowship Programme is to support transdisciplinary researchers from different cultural contexts in their projects and provide them with design guidelines in terms of how they might deal with context-specific challenges. Networking is of fundamental importance in exchanging experiences, expertise and ideas and in promoting intercultural communication. Ultimately, our aim is to contribute significantly to the shaping of dynamic and interdisciplinary knowledge networks.

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