The Transdisciplinary Journey
Reflections from the 2020 TBTI Transdisciplinary online course
Course facilitators: Ratana Chuenpagdee, Evan Andrews and Vesna Kerezi
Engaging in transdisciplinarity is a lifelong journey. In September 2020, TBTI Global welcomed over 55 participants from 24 countries to the TBTI Transdisciplinary Learning platform. The participants were seeking to enrich their transdisciplinary (TD) education through a 14-week course, Transdisciplinarity for Fisheries and Ocean Sustainability. Some participants were there to hone their skills, whereas others enrolled to receive an introduction to the TD approach. All were there because they cared for the future of small-scale fisheries and ocean systems in places they worked and cherished.
The 14-week course was comprehensive and global in scope. The journey began with an introductory, welcome period and ended with a time of reflection. In between, participants worked through four substantive modules: 1) Wicked problems and governability; 2) The fundamentals of transdisciplinarity; 3) Unpacking governance and governing systems; and 4) Case study analysis. Throughout the modules, participants were familiarized with the TD materials and processes through a number of ways, including discussion threads, videos, papers, as well as individual and group exercises. Undoubtedly one of the most popular parts of the course was an exceptional opportunity to speak directly to some of the leading experts on small-scale fisheries from around the world. These discussions offered insights not only about the material covered in the course but also an opportunity to talk about topics such as career changes, imposter syndrome, and others.
The course was a collective effort with participants interacting with 17 fisheries and oceans researchers and practitioners working in Canada, Barbados, France, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Sweden, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and many more.
Participants had control over their learning journeys, and they got to practice TD from Day 1. During the welcome period, participants helped co-create the syllabus. They spoke about the ‘Big Questions’ they had for fisheries and oceans. Those questions shaped the wicked problems that were assessed later on in the course, which, in turn, illustrated their interests for content about governance. Co-creation did not stop there. Throughout the modules, participants and facilitators worked together to synthesize knowledge across interest areas and case studies. Using their cases, participants showcased the challenges and opportunities in implementing the SSF Guidelines, and the policy and legal frameworks for shaping sustainability. Importantly, participants expressed their needs as learners. As facilitators, we listened and adjusted materials and collective expectations. In the end, we were humbled by the incredible perseverance of participants. They were navigating the challenges of online learning in the time of pandemic, all the while volunteering their time to make commitments to this course and to the TD journey.
In December, participants hit the *submit button* on their final discussion responses and exercises, and we began to reflect on the course. We learned a great deal from participants about how they see fisheries and oceans sustainability and what kinds of changes they would like to see being applied in the future course. Chief among the lessons learned was that the collective efforts from facilitators, presenters, resident experts, and most of all participants seemed to pay off. Those efforts enabled momentum on the TD journeys taken in the course (see some of the testimonials below). This gives us hope and excitement to see what the 2020 TD course graduates will do and continue to do for fisheries and oceans around the world. Please join us in congratulating them!