Abstract

The transdisciplinary approach aims to produce knowledge by including different perspectives and knowledge forms of academic and non-academic actors. This paper analyses how knowledge, knowledge production and transfer were understood and practiced within the context of the Summer School in Chiang Mai 2018. The Summer School was part of the KNOTS project, which is concerned with transdisciplinarity and intends to establish a network of knowledge exchange by linking partner universities from five countries. The research paper demonstrates the attempt to shift knowledge production into a transdisciplinary direction and describes challenges that occurred. Even though the transdisciplinary approach and the KNOTS program aim to significantly reduce knowledge hierarchies by transforming knowledge production, the results show that this still remains a challenging task. Knowledge hierarchies and power relations were still visible and felt by most of the participants. The most strongly perceived asymmetries, which were considered from an intersectional perspective, were in the realms of role (student or lecturer), nationality (European or Southeast Asian), language and gender. While hierarchies cannot be eliminated completely, the paper discusses the attempts by the participants to reduce the still existing asymmetries. The results are a further contribution to transdisciplinary research, which so far has not taken the field of sociology of knowledge into sufficient consideration, particularly in regard to knowledge and knowledge hierarchies.

Keywords: transdisciplinarity, sociology of knowledge, feminist and post-colonial approaches, knowledge hierarchies, KNOTS Summer School

Autorinneninformation:

Barbara Braunhuber a, Theresa Goisauf b, Junita Reinisch c,d

a Barbara Braunhuber’s main research interest is on social movements, social inequalities and climate change. b Theresa Goisauf’s main research interest is on urban transformation, social inequalities in European cities and gentrification. c Junita Reinisch’s main research interests are gender and social inequalities, women* empowerment, postcolonial and feminist approaches d All three authors are currently master students at the Department of Development Studies, University of Vienna

Abstract

The project „KNOTS“ is a three-year scheduled project financed by the European Union. The goal is the establishment of regional and international networks of transdisciplinary research as well as the development of transdisciplinary teaching methods. This paper analyses its internal and external communication and dissemination on the basis of qualitative interviews and ob-servation protocols. It theoretically outlines transdisciplinarity and organizational communica-tion as well as scientific communication. The interviews and the protocol of a dissemination workshop have shown that the dissemination in the KNOTS project could still be described as work-in-progress, evidently seen in the different understandings of dissemination (mainly) and transdisciplinarity (partly). There was a general confusion about roles, division of work, re-sponsibilities and the topic of dissemination specifically. There is not a mutual strategy for dissemination, but many different approaches. This counts especially for the time before the dissemination workshop. As one might expect, it resulted in mostly negatively reviewed dis-semination activities as expressed by the respondents. An effective internal communication, however, as outlined in the theoretical framework, is key to an effective external communica-tion. Furthermore, there did not seem to be a lot of motivation to come up with sophisticated ideas for dissemination, because, as some interviewees mentioned, they thought of dissemina-tion as a kind of chore assigned by the donor. The workshop may have helped to clarify the roles and expectations for each partner and get a better understanding for dissemination and its importance. It appears that the quality and processes of dissemination of project KNOTS will not change fundamentally for the last period of the project. It poses an example of the challenges and issues transdisciplinary projects face in terms of dissemination activities.

Key words: KNOTS, transdisciplinarity, dissemination, scientific communication, organ-izational communication.

Autorinneninformation:

Lukas Semmler is a student at the University of Vienna, currently enrolled in the master’s programme “Development Studies” and will most likely graduate by the begin-ning of 2020. His research interest lies in the field of Transdisciplinarity, (scientific) commu-nication and development theories.

Im Erscheinen:

  • Feminist Activism and Solidarity across Borders. Chandra Talpade Mohanty in Conversation with Nikita Dhawan (2019)