Round table: Transdisciplinary co-production: innovative methodologies for just urban transformation

Conveners: David Simon and Henrietta Palmer, Mistra Urban Futures


Central to the conference aim and theme are the challenges of how to produce appropriate knowledge for the future and how to enhance Swedish competences to shape Swedish global policies and interventions.

The most intractable impediment to the implementation of appropriate policies based on research evidence lies complex interlocking institutional, disciplinary and community-of-practice barriers or divides. Some relate to territoriality (boundary keeping), others to the lack of trust, respect and/or appropriate presentation and intelligibility of findings and recommendations for those who must actually implement them in particular contexts. These are usually explained in terms of simplistic supposed dichotomies between academics and practitioners or between theory and practice.

These challenges persist at all scales worldwide and are not therefore specifically ‘development problems’, although the cross-cultural and asymmetrical power relations inherent in ‘development’ contexts often make them particular acute. Post-2015 development thinking, research and practice demands an escape from traditional geographical ghettoes. The intellectual cutting edge has been shifting increasingly over recent years to global challenges, symbolised politically and in policy terms by the adoption of the SDGs applicable to all countries by the UN.

Numerous research methods, many under the umbrella of ‘participation’, have sought to address the dichotomies within development research and in other contexts, to the point where it became (and often still is) a prerequisite for obtaining research funding – part of the ‘tyranny’ that received wide critical attention in the early 2000s. One innovative approach that can overcome the barriers in diverse contexts is transdisciplinary co-production (now often called co-design or co-creation), which brings together teams of researchers from various interested institutions and communities of practice– including those responsible for implementing the research findings – to address practical problems of mutual importance. This symposium will discuss the methodology, its challenges and benefits from the perspective of different ‘stakeholders’ working with Mistra Urban Futures, an international urban sustainability research centre based in Gothenburg and working via this methodology in several parts of the world, partly funded by Sida.

24 Aug., 09:00−10:30, Seminar Room Y23

David Simon, Mistra Urban Futures
Henrietta Palmer, Mistra Urban Futures
Mikael Cullberg, Mistra Urban Futures
Merritt  Polk, University of Gothenburg
Åsa Lorentzi, Mistra Urban Futures
Eva-Maria Jernsand, University of Gothenburg / Mistra Urban Futures
Helena Kraff, University of Gothenburg / Mistra Urban Futures