Accepted Paper:

Pursuing knowledge integration between modernist and reflexive cultures: lessons learned from two organised spaces for epistemic alignment  


Eva-Maria Kunseler (PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency)
Lisa Verwoerd (Athena Institute, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
Barbara Regeer (Athena Institute, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
Femke Verwest (PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency)

Paper short abstract:

Meetings within a Community of Practice and an interdisciplinary research team trigger knowledge integration when active reflection on epistemic cultures is combined with joint research efforts.

Paper long abstract:

The core challenge of inter,- and transdisciplinarity is to generate alignment of epistemic cultures. We empirically studied how epistemic alignment is organised within a public knowledge organisation that struggles to adopt a reflexive tradition of knowledge production (characterized by deliberative policy analysis) against a prevailing modernist tradition (characterized by technical-rational policy analysis). The two organised spaces for epistemic alignment under study are: a Community of Practice (CoP) on expert advice in complex multi-level governance settings and an interdisciplinary research team with high transdisciplinary aspirations. Within these settings we conducted reflexive monitoring of the learning processes (CoP case) and implemented transdisciplinary methods via trainings and reflection sessions (research team case). In our paper we discuss the set-up of our activities and present the (preliminary) learning outcomes.

Our preliminary findings indicate that exchange of practical examples of knowledge integration within the CoP triggers active debate on the epistemic assumptions underneath technical expert-driven and deliberative policy approaches. Via discussion and reflection, the CoP helps to create alignment between members who are inclined to inform their approaches by the modernist tradition, and those familiar with reflexive approaches. Yet, our other case reveals that, while discussion and reflection are elemental, these are insufficient to make knowledge integration happen for real. It requires joint research efforts, such as joint case selection and shared stakeholder meetings to achieve integration. However, for the team to embed integration during the research process, considering time pressure and disciplinary defaults, an active inter,- and transdisciplinary strategy remains necessary.

Panel C11
Scientific meetings across disciplinary boundaries