Building a Transdisciplinary Trading Zone

By Derren Rosbach.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Numerous transdisciplinary research initiatives underway today are proceeding with only limited understanding of the ways in which the intellectually diverse groups central to such efforts work together. The concept of trading zones offers an alternate yet complementary look at cross-disciplinary collaborations and in particular offers a more thorough treatment of the communication and coordination challenges implicit in such initiatives. More specifically, this paper proposes boundary objects, interactional expertise, and interlanguage as means to overcome epistemic and communication barriers in transdisciplinary groups. This analysis focuses on the development of collective understanding and language in intellectually diverse groups and theorizes a transdisciplinary trading zone as a means to understand better cross-disciplinary approaches to addressing complex social, economic or environmental challenges. Taken together, the concepts of transdisciplinarity and trading zones offer a more complete understanding of heterogeneous group dynamics and the evolution of shared meaning and creation of integrated knowledge.

Keywords: Knowledge, Interdisciplinary, Transdisciplinary, Trading Zones, Interactional Expertise, Boundary Objects, Collaboration

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp.17-30. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 778.527KB).

Dr. Derren Rosbach

Visiting Assistant Professor, School of Public and International Affairs, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA

The overarching goal of my research is to better understand how individuals with diverse interests and expertise address pressing policy issues. I explore the dynamics of coupled social and natural systems as well as the dynamics of collaborative interdisciplinary research teams assembled to make decisions by means of such connected systems. One issue of particular interest concerns how to balance the science and politics of policy decisions. My current work involves a broad set of subjects, but all are united by the common goal of exploring diverse social and natural systems. My educational and professional backgrounds include work in the natural sciences and the social sciences. I recently completed an interdisciplinary doctoral program in Planning, Governance and Globalization at Virginia Tech.