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In recent sustainability assessments, transdisciplinary approaches have been used to bridge contested normative views
among many societal actors, policymakers and researchers. Transdisciplinary research is mainly based on three premises:
(1) various perspectives need to be incorporated and discussed to empower actors, (2) the collaboration and co-creation of
knowledge between academic and societal actors allows to better grasp the complexity of a real-world problem, and (3) a
mutual learning process arises which could increase the legitimacy of decisions and their implementation in practice. Despite
many examples of transdisciplinary projects, few assessments have been done that question whether such a project fulfils
the premises of transdisciplinary research. Therefore, we report on a reflexive assessment of an initiative set up to foster the
transformation of the Flemish agri-food system towards sustainability. The case study involved both scientific and societal
actors with different views, making it possible to implement a transdisciplinary process, evaluate the expectations and give
suggestions for future processes. Evaluation criteria are linked to context, process and outcomes. Analysis of the qualitative
and quantitative data indicates that the initiative did empower the transformation towards sustainability. Furthermore, results
show that, in this case, a transdisciplinary approach can fulfil its premises. However, some critical factors are identified, such
as the importance of the context specificity and a flexible, adaptive and iterative process.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberIssue 4
JournalSustainability Science
Issue number Issue 4
Pages (from-to)1137–1154
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - Jul-2018

    Research areas

  • B390-horticulture - reflexive assessment, transdisciplinary research, transdisciplinary approach, case study analysis, Flemish agri-food system

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