The imperative to “link knowledge and action” is widely invoked as a defining characteristic of sustainability research. The complexities of sustainability challenges such as climate change and biodiversity loss mean that linear models of knowledge and action, where knowledge is produced first (by researchers) then “applied to” action (by policy actors), are considered insufficient. Researchers have developed more dynamic, open-ended and collaborative forms of policy engagement such as transdisciplinary and co-production research. Although promising these approaches often remain captive to linear assumptions that hinder their transformative potential.
We contribute by providing a relational model of knowledge and action rooted in contemporary practice theory. A practice-based approach suggests the primary task of participants in transdisciplinary interventions is to find workable solutions to situations of dynamic complexity that are fundamentally indeterminate and unpredictable. Knowledge is not “applied to” action, but drawn upon, produced and used from within the situation at hand, allowing researchers and policy actors alike to better harness the emergent character of situational developments and outcomes.
A practice-based approach provides a conceptual language that captures the experienced complexities of intervening for sustainability, reconfigures the nature of “actionable knowledge,” and identifies appropriate modes of evaluation for transdisciplinary and co-produced research.
Research news | 2020-02-21
Despite rapid urban growth, agriculture in a wetland area in the south of Mexico City soldiers on, more than a millennium after its birth
Research news | 2020-02-19
Malin Falkenmark calls for a shift towards a water based biosphere stewardship. The alternative, she warns, could be catastrophic
Research news | 2020-02-17
Trying to reach the goals under current business-as-usual will come at a heavy price on the planetary boundaries
Research news | 2020-02-14
The new "Our Future On Earth" report provides risks analysis based on survey of 222 global sustainability experts, including centre researchers
Research news | 2020-02-13
New assessment aims to fill critical gaps in understanding the growing role aquatic foods play in the global food system
Research news | 2020-02-09
A new study harmonizes the water planetary boundary with local boundaries for the La Cienega wetlands in Colombia