Toward community food security through transdisciplinary action research
Article Type: Research Manuals and Guides
Abstract: To solve the world’s most complex problems, research is increasingly moving toward more transdisciplinary endeavors. While a lot of important work has explored the characteristics, challenges, opportunities, and operationalization of transdisciplinary research, much less is known about the circumstances that either facilitate or hinder the research process, particularly from the perspectives of graduate students who often participate in them. In this paper, we aim to address this gap by contributing our own experiences as a team of four graduate students and one community partner that collaborated on a food security project. To support our collaboration, we develop and apply an analytical framework that integrates transdisciplinarity and action research. Through principles of reflexivity, participation and partnership, methods and process, and integration, we find that the framework facilitated the development of shared purposes, mutual responsibility, and meaningful relationships, resulting in the co- creation of a guidebook for farmer-led research. Our main concern with the framework is not achieving the full integration of our disciplines and practices. Transdisciplinarity together with action research holds significant promise in a food security context, but only in the “right” circumstances, where considerable time is spent building relation- ships, opening communicative space, and reflecting on the work with collaborators.
Keywords: Community engaged scholarship, graduate student, evaluation, transdisciplinary, action research, food security