Learning in and from transdisciplinary practice: Navigating the research-to-practice interface across scales.

14:00 Tuesday 28 May


Room S1


Amir Bazaz (India) 1; Georgina Cundill-Kemp (Canada) 2; Margot Curl (United Kingdom) 3; Jesse Demaria-Kinney (Switzerland) 4; Blane Harvey (Canada) 5; Bettina Koelle (South Africa) 6

1 - Indian Institute for Human Settlements, India); 2 - International Development Research Centre, Canada; 3 - Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, United Kingdom); 4 - PlanAdapt, Switzerland; 5 - McGill University, Canada); 6 - Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, South Africa

There is a growing recognition that responding to complex and dynamic systems-scale problems requires multiple perspectives. Adaptation researchers have therefore begun adopting innovative and strategic partnerships to adequately address the problems they aim to confront. Transdisciplinary research linking research and practice is seen by many as a key means of enabling effective responses but is also known to be challenging to undertake (Cundill et al 2018). This panel will reflect on the challenges of applying collaborative, transdisciplinary and use-oriented models of research at two levels:

  • At the programmatic level, where partners must negotiate priorities and ways of achieving anticipated outcomes;
  • At the level of implementation, where researchers and practitioners aim to co-produce responses that can translate into meaningful actions.

Drawing on recent experiences from five large-scale transdisciplinary research initiatives on adaptation and resilience, this session showcases the experiences of researchers and practitioners from the Global North and South. Using a combination of short presentations and interactive activities, it will introduce strategies used by programme members to navigate the challenges of collective action at these two scales, and will also examine how cross-scale interactions supported learning and problem-solving.

Ultimately the session will offer participants the opportunity to reflect on the specific opportunities, and potential pitfalls of participating in transdisciplinary research partnerships aiming to influence adaptation policy and practice. It will provide concrete strategies for addressing the pitfalls identified, and will identify priorities for future inquiry into these processes. The session will be closed with a presentation of the recent ‘Principles for effective collaboration and learning in consortia’ publication that we have produced with input from BRACED, CARIAA, FCFA, PLACARD and other large consortia, to compare and complement the session’s outcomes with our previous work in this area Target audience Researchers, practitioners and funders looking to increase understanding of the value of, and challenges inherent in, collaboration in high quality transdisciplinary adaptation research. Given that this type of collaborative model is increasingly funded and favoured to seek solutions to deal with complexity, it is timely to explore the challenges and lessons learned from these types of collaborations. The session will share empirical evidence, personal experiences, and practical guidance from international adaptation research initiatives and provide a critical reflection on how to maximise research impact through collaboration across scales. The interactive format will provide a change of pace from sessions focused solely on presentations.

Proposed format for the session

The following formats will be used:

  • Short framing presentations (10 minutes per presentation) that speak to each of these levels of interaction (programme scale; implementation scale)
  • An interactive component exploring lessons learned, techniques and solutions to the challenges encountered at these two scales (45 minutes)
  • An open discussion (25 minutes), with a closing summary of some of the recommendations from the Guide on principles for effective collaboration (10 minutes).

This is an interactive session.