Linking European and Southeast Asian Transdisciplinary Knowledge Production: Lessons Learnt by Doing Evaluation
Keywords:Capacity Building, Cultures of Science, Evaluation, Knowledge Co-Production, Transdiciplinarity
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.
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