World Café Day One Afternoon: Drawing on Diverse Sources of Knowledge in Partnerships

Speakers: Violeta CabelloSarah VeltenEugenia CastellazziSierra DeutschViola HakkarainenSara ZamanJakub Macha


Shifting values, knowledge systems and agency in education, institutes and policy
Viola Hakkarainen, Sara Zaman, Eugenia Castellazzi

From academics, policy makers, to practitioners, humans often work within the context of institutions that partially provide the scope of what a desirable future looks like. Sustainability and transformative change mean vastly different things to individuals within these contexts. Having developed processes for integrating institutional knowledges and values, it remains unclear how these processes intend to fundamentally challenge existing worldviews within institutions, thereby dealing with the ultimate alienation of human from nature, and mind from body. Our research therefore unsettles institutional claims to sustainability on multiple fronts. We have introduced relational learning through role-plays to secondary schools, research the transformative potential of online sustainability education in universities, and used embodiment to uncover care-ful relationships in the smart city. In these contexts, we demonstrate the need for shifting and enriching sustainable educational and urban planning paradigms with relational and embodied approaches. These approaches can enable humans to understand past, present and future more-than-human interdependencies.

Fostering positive biodiversity outcomes of the EU Common Agricultural Policy through multi-level transformative partnerships in Baden-Württemberg and Thuringia, Germany
Sarah Velten

Agriculture is both one of the main drivers of ongoing biodiversity loss and one of the sectors that suffer most from the consequences of this unsustainable trend. In the European Union, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) crucially shapes agricultural practice and its effects on biodiversity. Agri-environmental requirements and measures have been part of the CAP since the 1990s. However, despite substantial investments in these measures, biodiversity loss in European agricultural landscapes is far from being stopped or reversed. There are multiple causes for the limited effectiveness of the agri-environmental legislation and measures, such as insufficient payments, too little flexibility of the measures, risk of sanctions etc. Also, farmers feel too little involved in the design of the measures and see measures to be poorly adapted to day-to-day agricultural practice. Project CAP4GI aims to identify leverage points improve agricultural support under the CAP in terms of both biodiversity outcomes and economic feasibility for farms. As part of this endeavor, the project team has established partnerships with farmers and other agricultural stakeholders in two federal states in Germany (Baden-Württemberg and Thuringia). At these so-called exchange platforms, all partners work together in a co-design process to develop solutions for better biodiversity outcomes in the agriculture of the addressed regions and thereby highlight potential improvements for the CAP in general. The platforms are realized on both regional and state-level. With this multi-level design, the partnerships attempt to facilitate effective knowledge co-production, tackle power imbalances while enabling the involvement of a wide range of different stakeholders, and increase the relevance of the outputs of the partnership. The oral presentation will describe the design of this process and will reflect on lessons learned so far regarding the potential of these partnerships to shape transformations.

Transdisciplinary transformative change: an analysis of some best practices and barriers, and the potential of critical social science in getting us there
Sierra Deutsch

Biodiversity experts now widely acknowledge that transformative change is best supported through transdisciplinary collaborations. Yet, such collaborations rarely successfully occur in major biodiversity research institutions and those that do rarely achieve the paradigmatic effects they aim to deliver. To gain some insight into this global phenomenon, we surveyed Swiss-based researchers and non-academic stakeholders addressing global change and biodiversity. In this article, we connect our findings to global patterns in transdisciplinary transformative change initiatives (TTCIs) and heuristically divide collaboration barriers into two categories: lack of resources and lack of vital functional elements. Two of the major themes that emerged from this research were the continued difficulties with (1) establishing a common ‘language’, understanding, and goals, and (2) meaningful pluralization of knowledge in transdisciplinary collaborations aimed at addressing global change and biodiversity loss. The former is widely cited in the literature as contributing to the failure of TTCIs in the form of incoherent problem-framing, while the latter is often identified as contributing to the lack of structural transformative change (e.g., paradigmatic shifts) in completed initiatives. Another major theme reflected in TTCI literature was limited time. Moreover, based on our own extensive inter- and transdisciplinary experience, we agree with other experts that there is a persistent lack of understanding of the potential contributions of critical social science (CSS) to TTCIs. We thus argue that enhancing resource availability for TTCIs, especially tools for improving CSS literacy, could save time and support both problem-framing alignment and delivery of the structural/paradigmatic changes we aspire to.

Situating knowledge co-production in environmental conflicts
Violeta Cabello

This presentation shares insights from a Transformation Lab focused on the eutrophication of a coastal lagoon, the Mar Menor, in Southern Spain. Building upon a reflection of what can transformation mean in a context of ecological grief and strong social contestation, I situate a methodological design for a Transformation Lab that targeted humble individual and collective transformations. I emphasize the importance of the initial steps in knowledge co-production when relations are build with potential participants and crucial decisions are to be made on inclusivity and on how to attend to intersectional power differentials. I reflect on how the results of the process partially achieved its purposes, namely, opening a safe-enough space for dialogue among divergent positions and creating a sense of collectivity among them. I further discuss how both external and internal contexts of polarization influenced the process and how internally processing such conflicts was fundamental for me as researcher-facilitator in order to sustain it. I contend that inner and outer dimensions of transformation need to be coupled when co-producing knowledge in environmental conflicts.

Knowledge networks and partnerships in CEE grassroots
Jakub Macha