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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2014

Transdisciplinarity in practice: aims, collaboration and integration in a Swedish research programme

Beland Lindahl, Karin; Westholm, Erik


This article discusses the practice of crossdisciplinarity in the context of future-oriented sustainability studies. Much research into crossdisciplinarity has concentrated on programmatic and epistemological questions. In this study, we focus on research practice and efforts to realize transdisciplinary aims across a research programme. We use the Swedish Future Forests programme as a case study and explore its aims, forms of collaboration and level of conceptual integration. The study demonstrates that efficient integration requires organizational settings able to support the development of a common conceptual framework. To achieve this, the aims and forms of collaboration and the means of integration ought to be consistent. Far-reaching integration and short-term instrumental objectives may be difficult to combine because integration requires intellectual space, specific boundary settings and time. Short-term instrumental objectives may also hamper open and reflexive discussion of alternative pathways to sustainability and of how participating actors shape the research process. These insights may help researchers and participating actors to design research programmes that enable a realization of their transdisciplinary ambitions.


research practice; crossdisciplinarity; integration; sustainability; transdisciplinarity; forests

Published in

Journal of Integrative Environmental Sciences
2014, volume: 11, number: 3-4, pages: 155-171

Authors' information

Beland Lindahl, Karin
Luleå University of Technology
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development

Associated SLU-program

SLU Future Forests

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Sciences
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)