TD online course, fall 2020

‘Transdisciplinarity in Fisheries & Ocean Sustainability’

TBTI Global Online Learning and Training Platform

September 15 – December 15, 2020

Course information

The main objective of the transdisciplinary (TD) training program is to engage participants in a critical examination of a range of issues, challenges and concerns related to fisheries and ocean sustainability, especially those affecting small-scale fisheries (SSF). It also aims to deepen the understanding of the participants about the problems, issues and challenges facing SSF, affecting the overall fisheries and ocean sustainability, and to broaden the perspective for innovative and creative thinking about how to address them. Since TD is mostly about process, participants will learn how to co-identify problems and co-design pathways towards solution, recognizing gender issues and power dynamics, as well as learn to communicate effectively with different stakeholders from various background.

The TD training program consists of a series of lectures on theories and main concepts, such as TD, wicked problems, stakeholders, governance and governability, followed by approaches, methods and frameworks to promote sustainability for fisheries and ocean. An important aspect of the training is the practical application of the theories and methods through case study analysis. Participants will be working independently but will also interact with other participants in small group discussions. Active engagement with the training materials is required.

Course structure and format

The course is structured into FOUR modules. Each module spans three weeks and comprises readings, lectures and exercises. In addition to the modules, the first week of the course and the last week of the course is for introduction and reflection, respectively. The course is designed for self-learning at own pace, but the participants will be guided to move through the course together. Thus, the materials for the course will be time-released, instead of being available all at once at the start of the course. The released materials will be available for the participants to review at any time.

Completion of the course is determined by the active engagement in the course (e.g. through comments and discussion of the class materials and interaction with other participants), and in the submission of exercises and assignments. A minimum of 75% completion is required for the participants to receive a “Certification of completion” from TBTI Global.

Course content

Week 1: Welcome & co-creation of the course syllabus

The first week is for the participants to become familiar with the TD Learning Platform, as well as to get to know each other. The TD process also starts here with participants providing inputs to help develop the course syllabus through the ‘Big Questions’ exercise.

Module 1: Wicked problems & governability

This module introduces participants to the concept of wicked problems in governance, and why the problems are even more wicked in the context of SSF. To learn how to address such wickedness, participants will be guided to examine small-scale fisheries in their diversity, complexity and dynamics, and the scale issues associated with their governance. The aim is also to gain appreciation about the challenges and tension in navigating between sustaining the resources and providing viable livelihoods, which are interconnected and multi-faceted, and there might not be trade-off or win-win solutions. In effect, there may be no general consensus as to what these challenges are, why they occur, and how to address them. Participants will be introduced to the interactive governance as a theoretical framework to examine features of aquatic, social, ecological, and political systems that may foster or limit overall governance quality – the governability of small-scale fisheries. Assessing governability requires detailed examinations of the systems-to-be-governed, the governing system, and the governing interactions. By engaging in exercises specifically based on such analyses, participants would be able to identify opportunities and limitations for improving governance.

Module 2: The fundamentals of TD

While it is recognized that multiple perspectives are required to address multi-faceted and complex problems, an integration of knowledge and sciences does not always happen. Progress has been made in advancing the knowledge and scientific integration through multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary research. Why TD? Is it just another buzzword or it is an essential approach required for the kind of problems the world is facing today? In this module, we will discuss what TD is about and its value proposition. Is it true that a TD approach can help enhance understanding about fisheries and ocean and improve successful management and governance? A TD approach embraces complexity of SSF and governability challenges in achieving sustainability, including the diverse viewpoints and priorities of different stakeholders. This module aims to examine and integrate different theoretical perspectives often used to approach issues within SSF: 1) natural science, 2) social science, and 3) governance. Since TD is also a process, there will be a strong focus on approaches and tools to enhance interactions, communication, information sharing, and co-construction of knowledge.

Module 3: Unpacking governance & governing systems

The SSF Guidelines are the most comprehensive instruments designed to support and promote sustainable SSF. They contain key principles that speak to the nature and the characteristics of SSF. With human rights-based approach as foundation, the SSF Guidelines call on governments and related stakeholders to look at SSF issues along the entire fish chain, including those related to tenure rights, gender equality, involvement of fishers in management, social development, labour rights and capacity development. The challenge for all governments is about how to operationalize and implement the SSF Guidelines. In this module, we will examine the governance system, analyze the different types of institutions (formal and informal), and their functionality, identify principles currently employed and explore how to adjust the existing legal and policy frameworks so that they are in better alignment with the vision and principles in the SSF Guidelines. This is also an opportunity to think about how to situate and integrate SSF in the broader conversation about Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG 14. After all, SSF are not only about life below water, but much to do with ‘Life Above Water.’

Module 4: Case study analysis

SSF face many threats and challenges, including climate change, globalization, competition from industrial fisheries, rapid market shifts, and coastal and ocean development, some of which are part of the Blue Growth/Blue Economy initiatives, that might result in displacement and further marginalization of SSF. The Covid-19 pandemic adds the stress and vulnerability to many SSF around the world, with the full consequences yet unknown. A case study approach can be used to help understand the specific context and the essence of what SSF are going through, and to enable innovative thinking around what needs to be done. In this module, participants will be invited to work in small groups to analyze different case studies affecting SSF in various parts of the world, and to come up with ways to bring ‘Blue Justice’ for SSF. This is also an opportunity to turn SSF from a problem to a solution!

Week 13: Wrapping up & reflection

We’re wrapping up the course with group and self-reflection about the TD journey. Here’s an opportunity to share some thoughts and ideas about how to build TD capacity and community of practice for viable SSF, sustainable fisheries and healthy ocean around the world.

Meet the reaching team

Course facilitators
Teaching Assistant
Resource persons