Linking European and Southeast Asian Transdisciplinary Knowledge Production: Lessons Learnt by Doing Evaluation

  • Frank Seemann University of Bonn
  • Christoph Antweiler Professor at IOA University of Bonn
Keywords: Capacity Building, Cultures of Science, Evaluation, Knowledge Co-Production, Transdiciplinarity

Abstract

This article aims to explore knowledge co-production through a critical (and self-critical) reflection of experiences with doing evaluation within the Fostering Multi-Lateral Knowledge Networks of Transdisciplinary Studies to Tackle Global Challenges (KNOTS) project. KNOTS started as a collaborative project to explore the possibilities and increase the expertise of seven institutions from Europe and Southeast Asia in teaching a transdisciplinary approach at their higher education institutions. Planned as a capacity-building tool for higher education, its main objectives were to create a teaching manual and to es- tablish sustainable networks and knowledge hubs in this field of knowledge production. This was to be achieved mainly by means of summer schools and fieldtrips in Southeast Asia, which would enable learning through practical application of the knowledge developed. The realization of this ambitious conceptual formulation turned out to be pretty complex and this holds for the very process of evaluation itself as well. We discuss and illustrate the specific problems of a strict evaluation in such a complex transdisciplinary project. The notorious complexity of interdisciplinary and the more transdisciplinary projects was further increased by the intercultural, respective, transcultural dimension involved. Topics discussed include structurally immanent difficulties, unintended effects of financial and political constraints, complications caused by hierarchies and language, and effects of cultural differences, especially different university science cultures. In the form of lessons learned during the evaluation process, we give some hints for the development and implementation of the transdisciplinary approach as a new tool for reaching socially relevant knowledge, especially in cross-cultural settings.

Author Biographies

Frank Seemann, University of Bonn

Frank Seemann (M.A. Comparative Religion) is a lecturer and scientific assistant at the Department for Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Bonn. He was the organizational director of the KNOTS project at the department in Bonn and was responsible for quality assurance and evaluation within the project. His main areas of interest are Buddhism in mainland Southeast Asia, ethnic minorities in Southeast Asia, and ecological issues related to the region.

Christoph Antweiler, Professor at IOA University of Bonn

Christoph Antweiler (Dr. phil. Cultural Anthropology) is a professor of Southeast Asian Stud- ies at the University of Bonn. He was a member of the KNOTS project and worked within the quality assurance and evaluation within the project. His main areas of interest are develop- ment, ethnicity, and political ecology in insular Southeast Asia, and urban culture, provincial identity, and cosmopolitanism in urban Indonesia.

References

Angeles, L., & Gurstein, P. (2000). Planning for participatory capacity development: The challenges of participation in North-South partnership in capacity building projects. Canadian Journal of Development Studies, 21 (special issue), 31-62.

Bath, C., & Wedl, J. (2013). (Große) Interdisziplinarität. Braunschweig: Braunschweiger Zentrum für Gender Studies. Retrieved from https://www.fg-gender.de/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/FG2013_Forum-Interdisziplinaritat_Paper-Protokoll.pdf

Bärnthaler, R. (2020). Conflict, controversy, compromise, and compression: The pragmatics of transdisciplinary (development) projects. Austrian Journal of South-East Asian Studies, 13(2), 193-210.

Bergmann, M., Brohmann, B., Hoffmann, E., Loibl, M. C., Rehaag, R., Schramm, E., & Voss, J.-P. (2005). Quality Criteria of Transdisciplinary Research. A Guide for the Formative Evaluation of Research Projects. ISOE-Studientexte, No. 13 (English Version), Institute for Social-Ecological Research (ISOE), Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

Binder, C. R., Absenger-Helmi, I., & Schilling, T. (2015). The reality of transdisciplinarity: A framework- based self-reflection from science and practice leaders. Sustainability Science, 10(4), 545-562.

Braunhuber, B., Goisauf, T., & Rinisch, J. (2019). The (re)production and transfer of knowledge in the context of the ‘KNOTS Summer School’ in Chiang Mai 2018 - a critical approach. Working Paper No. 8. University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria. Retrieved from https://ie.univie.ac.at/fileadmin/user_upload/p_ie/INSTITUT/Publikationen/IE_Publications/ieWorkingPaper/ie.WP8_Braunhuber_2019-12.pdf

Chainarong, S. (n.d.). Case study for empowerment and democratisation high level panel. Thai Baan research (villagers’ research): Local wisdom for resources management. Living River Siam Association. Retrieved from http://www.livingriversiam.org/2work/tb/tb_a7.html

Chayan, V. (n.d.). Thai Baan research: An overview. Retrieved from https://www.iucn.org/downloads/thai_baan_research_an_overview_1.pdf

Dannecker, P. (2020). Transdisciplinarity ‘meets’ power structures: Challenges and experiences of a capacity building project on transdisciplinarity. Austrian Journal of South-East Asian Studies, 13(2), 175-192.

Doi, N. M. (2020). Institutional prospects and challenges to transdisciplinary approach in the knowledge production system of Vietnam: Reflections on a north-south partnership project. Austrian Journal of South-East Asian Studies, 13(2), 229-242.

EACEA (European Commission). (2015). Call for Proposal EAC/A04/2015, Development & Global Studies: Fostering multi-lateral knowledge networks of transdisciplinary studies to tackle global challenges (KNOTS), DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PROJECT (unpublished project document).

Heis, A., & Chayan, V. (2020). Thai Baan methodology and transdisciplinarity as collaborative research practices. Common ground and divergent directions. Austrian Journal of South-East Asian Studies, 13(2), 211-228.

Hirsch Hadorn, G., Biber-Klemm, S., Grossenbacher-Mansuy, W., Hoffmann-Riem, H., Joye, D., Pohl, C., ... & Zemp, E. (2008). The Emergence of Transdisciplinarity as a Form of Research. In G. Hirsch Hadorn, H. Hoffmann-Riem, S. Biber-Klemm, W. Grossenbacher-Mansuy, D. Joye, C. Pohl, ... & E. Zemp (Eds.), Handbook of Transdisciplinary Research (pp. 19-39). Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.

Lang, D. J., Wiek, A., Bergmann, M., Staufacher, M., Martens, P., Moll, P., & Thomas, C. J. (2012). Transdisciplinary research in sustainability science: Practice, principles, and challenges. Sustainability Science, 7(supplement 1), 25-43.

Padmanabhan, M. (2018). Introduction: Transdisciplinarity for Sustainability. In M. Padmanabhan (Ed.), Transdisciplinary research and sustainability. Collaboration, innovation and transformation (pp. 1-32). Abingdon: Routhledge

Pettibone, L., Blättel-Mink, B., Balázs, B., Di Giulio, A., Göbel, C., Heubach, K., . . . & Wyborn, C. (2018). Transdisciplinary sustainability research and citizen science: Options for mutual learning. GAIA, 27(2), 222-225.

Schmidt, L., & Neuburger, M. (2017). Trapped between privileges and precariousness: Tracing transdisciplinary research in a postcolonial setting. Futures, 93, 54-67.

Schuck-Zöller, S., Cortekar, J., & Jakob, D. (2018). Evaluation transdisziplinärer Forschung und deren Rahmenbedingungen - Vorüberlegungen zur Nutzung im Bereich von Klimaservice. Journal for Research and Technology Policy Evaluation, 45, 28-37.

Published
2020-12-31
How to Cite
Seemann, F. and Antweiler, C. (2020) “Linking European and Southeast Asian Transdisciplinary Knowledge Production: Lessons Learnt by Doing Evaluation”, Austrian Journal of South-East Asian Studies, 13(2), pp. 243-259. doi: 10.14764/10.ASEAS-0045.
Section
Current Research on Southeast Asia