The objective of transformative research is to find out, together with actors from the corporate sector, politics and civil society, how our economic and social system can be made more sustainable, and to jointly test possible solutions. Transformative research is thus also transdisciplinary - it involves actors beyond academia as equal partners. This kind of research involves certain methodological challenges and questions; some of these were discussed at the tF Symposium 2021: From Experiment to Mainstream. Martin Hirschnitz-Garbers and Christiane Gerstetter, both Senior Fellows at the Ecologic Institute, contributed to the online symposium, which was held in German language.
The core question of the symposium was how to build – as a part of research efforts – real world experiments involving different actors in a way that effectively promotes sustainable development.
Martin Hirschnitz-Garbers participated in a panel discussion on accompanying research, which was moderated by Alexandra Lux from the Institute for Socio-Ecologic Research (ISOE). The panel discussed the factors that promote or hinder the establishment and use of real world experiments at the municipal level and as well learning from experience gained in this context. According to the participants, a positive outcome depends, among other things, on organisational freedom, ownership at management and implementation levels, as well as clear communication about the diverse benefits for municipal actors from participating in real world experiments.
Christiane Gerstetter moderated a session that focused, among other things, on success factors and risks of failure in real world experiments in the context of transformative and transdisciplinary research. On aspect highlighted was the need for intensive communication between all actors involved regarding their objectives and expectations relating to their participation in such experiments.