This article draws on social theory to advance conceptualization and methodology in transdisciplinary research. It starts with a short introduction to the state of debate on transdisciplinarity and its challenges and proposes adopting a procedural perspective on sustainability. It argues that sustainable development, understood as a learning process, is the subject matter for which transdisciplinary research provides the means. This is followed by sociological reflections on the main challenge of transdisciplinary research: the collaboration between scholars and non-academics. Such collaboration points to an ambivalence in conceptualizations of transdisciplinarity, as transdisciplinary research involves scientific activity while at the same time claiming to essentially be an activity beyond the sciences, namely, a joint activity of scientists and non-academics. This has led to several inconsistencies in the debates. Achieving greater consistency requires acknowledging the specific ‘scientific bias’ inherent in the concepts in the first place: the debate on transdisciplinary research is basically scientific self-reflection about the role of scholars in collaborative activities with non-academics. As a practical answer, professionalization is recommended. The subsequent section introduces a procedural approach to learning processes in transdisciplinary sustainability research. A general model of procedures promises conceptual progress by providing a methodological foundation for sustainable learning in science–practice cooperation as well as formal criteria for evaluating such learning. Finally, transdisciplinary research is defined as a specific kind of applied science.
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Lorenz, S. (2022). Transdisciplinary sustainability research. Procedural perspectives and professional cooperation. Current research in environmental sustainability, 4: 100182. doi:10.1016/j.crsust.2022.100182.
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