Summer School 2023: "Doing Justice! Doing Just This! - Understanding justice in transdisciplinary and transformative research"

June 28th – 29th, 2023

The Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development (IOER)in Dresden, Germany, in collaboration with the Leibniz Research Network “Knowledge for Sustainable Development" organised a two day early-career summer school, for 30 participants,to reflect upon and deepen the understanding of justice as applied to transdisciplinary and transformative research (TTR).

TTR seeks to address pressing and complex sustainability challenges by bringing together academic and societal partners. In doing so, TTR aims to co-produce new types of knowledge and transform the ways in which such knowledge is used in society. However, TTR might as well reproduce or create new social, economic, environmental and intersectional injustices if it lacks concepts and methods to reflect upon and address justice. If unattended, justice implications may run the risk of ultimately exacerbating divides e.g. within or between species (non-/human), social groups (gender, class, ethnicity, religion, age, ability, etc.), urban and rural communities, or between the Global South and the Global North. Such challenges urge for reflexivity to acknowledge the bright and dark sides of transformations and to engage with the concept of justice and its implications for TTR. The summer school was guided by the following questions:

  • What are “just” transformations and how to enable them?
  • How can TTR methods contribute to reflexivity and depth in terms of just transformations?
  • How to ensure reciprocity and diversity in research processes in support of justice?
  • How to define and apply ethical reflection criteria in the research process?

The two day summer school was designed to include diverse theoretical inputs by three prominent lecturers:

Dr. Martin Savransky, Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, UK.

Dr. Dr. Guido Caniglia, Scientific Director of the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research (KLI), Klosternueburg, Austria.

Dr. Saurabh Arora, Senior Lecturer in Technology and Innovation for Development (SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit), University of Sussex Business School, UK.

The lectures were punctuated by group work sessions where the participants progressively worked towards developing reflection criteria for ethics and justice in TTR through interactive methods like brain-writing. The participants also visited the sustainability initiative “The Food Bin” (Zur Tonne) in the Grand Garden and enjoyed an evening of creative collaboration at GEH8, a culture and transformation hub in Dresden.

Participants particularly appreciated an open space to explore the idea of justice as well as to meet with like-minded researchers. One participant mentioned: “The lectures were inspiring and provided a helpful mix of different aspects that were thought-provoking. Also, all of them had participatory elements that strengthened team-building”. The organising team and some participants are continuing to work together to prepare a living document on the multiple understandings of justice and how to practice justice in TTR.

LRN Summer School 2023 (A. M. Schielicke/IÖR-Media)