Using transdisciplinary research to understand transition to agro-ecological farming systems

Authors: Alexandra Smyrniotopoulou, Agricultural University of Athens, Katherine N. Irvine, James Hutton Institute, Marie-Alice Budniok, European Landowners’ Organization, Branwen Miles, European Landowners’ Organization, Maeve Howe, European Landowners’ Organization, Alexandra Puscas, WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme, Mihaela Nechifor, WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme, George Vlahos, Agricultural University of Athens, David Miller, James Hutton Institute, Gerald Schwarz*, Thuenen Institute
Topics: Agricultural Geography, Rural Geography, Environment
Keywords: Transdisciplinarity, multi-actor approach, agro-ecological transitions
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Washington 4, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Transdisciplinary research is an increasingly recognized valuable approach for addressing complex problems which call for synthesis and integration of different scientific fields and non-academic actors. This is particularly relevant for transitions towards agro-ecological farming systems which need knowledge and expertise from across sectors and actors. Improving the integrated capacity for the co-creation and transfer of knowledge across end-users, stakeholders and scientists is one of the objectives of UNISECO. Among UNISECO’s methodological approaches for interaction with stakeholders and end-users is that of the Multi-Actor Platforms (MAPs). The MAPs, bringing together actors in farming systems and value chains with scientists, will co-create agro-ecological transitions to improve sustainable management practices through development and application of decision support tools and policy interventions. UNISECO’s expectation is that MAP participants, through their engagement, will open two-way knowledge exchange and co-learning among scientists, end-users and stakeholders at the EU and local case studies levels. A series of methodological and operational guidelines designed specifically for transdisciplinarity is to be tested by partners. The aims include: (i) providing guidance for the implementation and monitoring of the various transdisciplinary approaches; and (ii) integrating an assessment exercise for the whole process. This paper shall present the first indicative insights on this effort to strike a balance between methodological consistency, highly variable contexts of EU agriculture and different perceptions and experiences actors across the EU have regarding participatory research and inclusive decision-making. The paper is based on the UNISECO project (www.uniseco-project.eu) funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme (grant agreement N° 773901).

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