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A reflexive assessment of a regional initiative in the agri-food system to test whether and how it meets the premises of transdisciplinary research

Tijdschriftbijdrage - Tijdschriftartikel

In recent sustainability assessments, transdisciplinary approaches have been used to bridge contested normative views among many societal actors, policymakers and researchers. Transdisciplinary research is mainly based on three premises: (1) various perspectives need to be incorporated and discussed to empower actors, (2) the collaboration and co-creation of knowledge between academic and societal actors allows to better grasp the complexity of a real-world problem, and (3) a mutual learning process arises which could increase the legitimacy of decisions and their implementation in practice. Despite many examples of transdisciplinary projects, few assessments have been done that question whether such a project fulfils the premises of transdisciplinary research. Therefore, we report on a reflexive assessment of an initiative set up to foster the transformation of the Flemish agri-food system towards sustainability. The case study involved both scientific and societal actors with different views, making it possible to implement a transdisciplinary process, evaluate the expectations and give suggestions for future processes. Evaluation criteria are linked to context, process and outcomes. Analysis of the qualitative and quantitative data indicates that the initiative did empower the transformation towards sustainability. Furthermore, results show that, in this case, a transdisciplinary approach can fulfil its premises. However, some critical factors are identified, such as the importance of the context specificity and a flexible, adaptive and iterative process.
Tijdschrift: Sustainability Science
ISSN: 1862-4065
Issue: 4
Volume: 13
Pagina's: 1137 - 1154
Jaar van publicatie:2018