Experiences of transdisciplinarity in research on agricultural sustainability
Hunt, Lesley M.; Benge, J.; Campbell, H.; Fairweather, John R.; Greer, Glen; Lucock, D.; Manhire, J.; Moller, H.; Reid, J. R.; Rosin, C.; Saunders, Caroline M.
The Agricultural Research Group on Sustainability (ARGOS), a transdisciplinary research programme funded by New Zealand’s Public Good Science Fund and business organisations interested in primary production, aims to improve the resilience and sustainability of New Zealand agriculture by comparing organic, integrated and conventionally managed farms and orchards. Researchers from ARGOS write of the programme’s context, research design and major results, but especially they share the highs and lows of their experiences of working in a team made up of researchers from farm management, economics, ecology and social science, in the process of becoming transdisciplinary. These experiences are interpreted through the lens of Bourdieu’s Theory of Practice to demonstrate how researchers respond to working in a field, transdisciplinarity, in which they do not know the ‘rules of the game’ and which, in fact, may not yet have rules. Despite frequently referring to the contestation that occurs in this situation of challenges to identity and making meaning, this is a programme that through continuing negotiation has been adapted to move into its seventh year. As such those who are working or about to work in similar programmes can take heart. If they are having difficulties and disagreements ‐ this is a ‘normal’ experience, to be expected and celebrated as part of a growing and creative process. It does not mean that the transdisciplinary research endeavour should be abandoned but that it requires structural support frameworks at both international and research institute level for a ‘space’ in which it can happen more effectively.... [Show full abstract]