Lecture Series "Science meets society"

Ways to co-create knowledge and solutions for ocean sustainability

The UN Sustainable Development Goals describe a global agreement on what society seeks to become. They envision a safe and just world, where the fundamental conditions for human prosperity - a stable climate, a clean environment and healthy ecosystems - are maintained. It is clear that in order to deliver on these goals, science and society have to face shifting paradigms and practice. But how do we find the right and lasting strategies for sustainable transition? What is the role of science and society in this process? How do we prepare the next generation for the complexity in problem-solving?


Transdisciplinary (TD) research is a key component of participatory sustainability science. It is a solution-oriented approach that moves beyond the classical disciplinary practice and addresses complex questions that cut across scientific, environmental, and social systems. The goal of TD research is to build and apply multi-disciplinary knowledge by means of integrating scientists, stakeholders and practitioners under a co-defined goal and conceptual framework.

In the lecture series seven guest speakers will inform about TD research concepts and methods. They will give insight to the benefits and challenges of TD work and education through presenting research projects and case studies. The lecture series invites researchers, stakeholders, students and the general public to gain information and inspiration and to join the discussion on how science and society could meet in co-producing knowledge and solutions for ocean sustainability.

Christian-Albrechts-Platz 4 (CAU)
Audimax, Lecture Hall E
17:00 – 19:00

Flyer (pdf)

7 November 2018 | Dr. Christian Pohl, ETH Zürich
Transdisciplinarity Research: What, why and how.
Abstract: The idea of transdisciplinarity is bothering scholars in various thematic fields since a long time. Through the years, different interpretations of transdisciplinarity emerged, each of them focussing on specific aspects of the transdisciplinary endeavour. The current understanding in (European) sustainability science equals transdisciplinarity with stakeholder involvement. This understanding has gained a lot of traction in the academic discussion over the last decades. The main purpose for such an approach to knowledge production is to support sustainable development of society in democratic countries. This approach comes with specific challenges, three of which are: joint problem framing, (knowledge) integration and exploring impact. Current transdisciplinary projects try many ways of how to meet these challenges. This is because there are no established or standardised approaches or practices. What is available (besides project examples) is a growing number of principles and tools. However, it is not yet clear how helpful these principles and tools are for researchers not experienced in using them.
Moderation by Prof. Nele Matz-Lück

21 November 2018 | Prof. Dr. Harald Heinrichs, Leuphana University Lüneburg
Transdisciplinary Science: Theory, Practice, Challenges
Abstract: Over the past 20 years, in the context of the sociopolitical debate on sustainable development in environmental and sustainability sciences, the perspective of "transdisciplinarity" has developed and gradually established itself. Transdisciplinary science takes the concept of participatory sustainability into account, but goes beyond the interdisciplinary approach that emerged in the environmental sciences since the 1970s. It aims at integrating societal actors beyond the scientific system. The ultimate goal of transdisciplinary research and development is to find practical solution options for complex sustainability problems in collaborative processes and at the same time generate generalized scientific insights. By now, the theoretical foundations of transdisciplinary research are well developed and a lot of practical experience has been gained. In the lecture series, theoretical considerations will be presented and own practical experiences with transdisciplinary projects will be discussed. The potential, limits and challenges of transdisciplinary (sustainability) science will be pointed out. Finally, an outlook will be given on newer (art-based) methods that can help to overcome deficits of previous transdisciplinary approaches.
Moderation by Dr. Annegret Kuhn

5 December 2018 | Dr. Anja Reiz, GEOMAR, Kiel
Knowledge Transfer: Lessons Learned from Transdisciplinary EU Projects
Abstract: In transdisciplinary research scientists, society, and decision-makers should be enabled to get engaged in the entire research process. Questions raised in EU project calls can typically only be addressed through the convergence of different scientific communities or disciplines in one research consortium. An increasing number of research questions even necessitates to team up as different disciplines as natural sciences, social sciences, legal sciences and economic sciences. It is obvious that complex research questions that require transdisciplinary investigations do as well have very diverse stakeholders. Accordingly, the team that is in charge of the research project's engagement with society first needs to map the stakeholders in different groups to identify their information/engagement needs. However, it occurs that well-considered and well-planned dissemination action might not reach the favoured stakeholder group. Hence, continuous dialogue within the project consortium and with selected stakeholders, and evaluation of conducted actions is required to improve knowledge transfer to meet stakeholder needs. The lessons learned from two large scale transdisciplinary EU research projects will be reflected by illustrating successful examples and pit falls on how to engage with society.
Moderation by Prof. Thorsten Reusch

19 December 2018 | Dr. Luisa Galgani, University of Sienna
Citizen Scientists – A New Opportunity to Support Environmental Research and Management of Aquatic Environments
Abstract: Aquatic ecosystems are under increasing stress from climate change and anthropogenic degradation. Diffuse pollution (excess nutrients loads, litter) into rivers, lakes and oceans across the globe is threatening the fundamental services that these ecosystems provide. To successfully control and mitigate this growing challenge and better understand its impact on the aquatic environment, different methods are needed to connect scientists to local communities and local authorities. One potentially important approach to meeting this challenge is citizen science. By a consistent analysis and recording methodology, local participants in Tuscany (and across the globe) are taking regular measurements to support the research of academic and institutional partners in identifying the sources and fate of freshwater pollutants. Local scale data combined with earth observation through online platforms provide high-resolution real-time information. As part of a global network, information can be combined to help identify the main drivers of ecosystem degradation and support innovative new approaches. Citizen observatories are expanding worldwide and have been successful in supporting science and regulatory agencies. These programmes have raised community awareness, strengthened research and improved evidenced-based management of our natural resources. Participants in these programmes have positive impacts of their choices and actions with knock-on effects on local challenges. A significant increase (90%) in participant's knowledge and understanding of local and global water issues shows clear benefits which result in a more informed and engaged community.
Moderation by Prof. Anja Engel

9 January 2019 | Prof. Dr. Jörg Niewöhner, Humboldt University, Berlin
Co-laboration: Grappling with Problematisations in Ecologies of Expertise
Abstract: In this talk, I want to take a stance developed from anthropology and science and technology studies to do three things: First, elaborate the problem of contingency of scientific knowledge. Second, introduce the concept of 'problematisation'. Third, discuss what differences in problematisation between disciplines, and between academic scholarship and different publics may mean for 'our' research. In concluding, I open up for discussion the tentative notion of 'situated modelling' as our own approach to handling the "complex, multifaceted and intertwined challenges that we are facing".
Moderation by Prof. Silja Klepp

23 January 2019 | Prof. Dr. Matthias Bergmann, ISOE - Frankfurt a.M. and Leuphana University
In Search of Impact – How to Promote Transdisciplinary Research for Society and Science
Abstract: To foster transformation to a more sustainable status in a specific field of action the transdisciplinary research approach is used more and more frequently. During the last years the scientific foundations for the transdisciplinary research practice have been evolved consequently. By integrating multiple disciplines as well as the expertise of partners from societal practice, transdisciplinary researchers are able to look at a problem from many angles, with the goal of making both societal and scientific advances. Research for solving complex societal problems has become complex itself. Recent research results show that the involvement of social actors (participation) increases the societal impact of research. The results significantly indicate that the active involvement of actors outside academia from the very beginning of research processes ('co-design') as well as the deliberate formulation of the intended societal and scientific outcomes and impact already at the project constitution is of high relevance for the efficiency of the research process and results. In this lecture different conceptual approaches (e.g. real-world laboratories), methods and success factors are presented, with which participative research can be supported. In addition, current research results dealing with questions of the connection between methods and processes and the societal impact potentials of transdisciplinary research will be reported. Finally, a research-based, transdisciplinary curriculum is introduced.
Moderation by PD Avan Antia

6 February 2019 | David Murphy, AQUATT, Dublin
Bridging the Gap: From Science to Societal Impact, how to maximise value creation from research using transdisciplinary multi-actor approaches
Abstract: The European Commission announced that "the European Union is a research powerhouse [and is] still the world's leading producer of scientific knowledge, ahead of the United States. However, Europe too rarely succeeds in turning research into innovation, in getting research results to market".
To respond to this, the concept of 'Open Innovation' has been launched, which is further supplemented by numerous legislations, processes and strategies promoting complementary philosophies. One such communication being the European Commission's Investment Plan for Europe where it is stated that to "boost research and innovation, [European Union] competitiveness would benefit from fewer barriers to knowledge transfer, open access to scientific research and greater mobility of researchers" .
AquaTT has been situated in the arena of capacity building; stimulating knowledge transfer and exchange; and communicating science to stakeholders for more than 25 years. Currently AquaTT is involved in several transdisciplinary research projects (16 H2020 projects). Inside those projects our role is typically related to the management of knowledge (dissemination, communication, knowledge transfer, exploitation, outreach). Working with the partnerships we apply our experience, processes and methodology to help ensure there is a measurable demonstrable value creation proposition from the research activities carried out.
AquaTT is a thought leader on Knowledge Transfer methodology having recently led the H2020 COLUMBUS project (www.columbusproject.eu). Representing the most substantial investment by the European Commission in Knowledge Transfer to date, the Blue Growth project that had an overarching objective "to ensure that applicable knowledge generated through European Commission-funded science and technology research was transferred effectively to advance the governance of the marine and maritime sectors while improving competitiveness of European companies and unlocking the potential of the oceans to create future jobs and economic growth in Europe".
In this seminar, David Murphy will introduce our knowledge transfer processes, reflect on AquaTT's experiences and provide some recommendations for researchers who want to achieve measurable impact from their projects.
Moderation by Prof. Ralph Schneider

Contact (representing the organizing FO Cluster Coordinators Team)
Dr. Scarlett Sett,
Scientific coordinator

Dr. Franziska Julie Werner,
Project coordinator „Ocean Education"