Transdisciplinary research teams: Broadening the scope of who participates in research

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Department of Social Sciences


Transdisciplinary research that addresses global change or sustainability issues often involves coordinated actions and processes involving diverse groups that cross sectorial, disciplinary, and organizational boundaries. In this chapter, we describe several key kinds of groups and discuss the challenges of incorporating them into research teams. These challenges include avoiding bias and promoting equality among actors, equity among transdisciplinary actors, cultural and language differences, parallel play instead of integrated efforts and managing multiple motivations and expectations. The strategies we review to mitigate the challenges discussed above are: managing conflict and overcoming cultural barriers; constructing shared conceptual frameworks; utilizing boundary spanners; utilizing guided dialog; and consilience workshops.

Publisher's Statement

© Kathleen E. Halvorsen, Chelsea Schelly, Robert M. Handler, Erin C. Pischke and Jessie L. Knowlton 2019. Publisher’s version of record: https://doi.org/10.4337/9781788115193.00014

Publication Title

A Research Agenda for Environmental Management