Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Adrian J. Ivakhiv
The subject of this case study is the Vermont Agricultural Resilience in a Changing Climate initiative, a transdisciplinary research team at UVM that has maintained success in meeting research and outreach objectives despite collaborating in a way that does not follow any particular ideal-type transdisciplinary process. In following recent science and technology (STS) studies' accounts of cross-disciplinary collaboration, the hypothesis pursued is that the transdisciplinary study of messy or "wicked" problems like climate change brings forth an array of responses from researchers whose disciplinary backgrounds already position them to pursue their research differently, particularly when they involve outside stakeholders in a participatory action research agenda. When not addressed explicitly through the transdisciplinary research framework, these differences are likely to result in more subterranean or affective responses, such as ambivalence and equivocation, which may permeate the collaborative group process. Through a qualitative ethnographic approach, I show that transdisciplinary work is complex and situational, due to the topic itself in agricultural resilience and climate change, the affective nature of the collaborative process, the differences in disciplinary perspectives, the researchers' subjectivities, and the influence of outside actors in the initiative. I argue that transdisciplinary work must necessarily be challenging given the variety of heterogeneous forces at play, and that deeper attention to the situation elucidates underlying dynamics that are not addressed in the normal research process. This research contributes insights into the literature on transdisciplinary research on messy problems.
Number of Pages
Tsao, Emil, "Becoming Transdisciplinary: Exploring Process in a Research Initiative on Climate Change" (2015). Graduate College Dissertations and Theses. 488.