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Open Access Design Junctions in Real-World Laboratories: Analyzing Experiences Gained from the Project Knowledge Dialogue Northern Black Forest

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This article is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY licence.

Real-world laboratories (RwLs) stand for a new format of transformative research. Drawing on the concept of “design junctions”, we shed light on what is going on inside an RwL. Based on the example of the RwL Knowledge Dialogue Northern Black Forest, we focus on both the negotiation processes over the normative and methodological requirements of RwL research formats as well as the common practices of day-to-day research work.

Real-world laboratories (RwLs) promise to advance, and at the same time study, transitions to sustainability in a specific socio-spatial context. That brings challenges for researchers working in RwLs. In this Design Report, we reflect on the experiences researchers have gained in the RwL Knowledge Dialogue Northern Black Forest, Germany. We propose the concept of “design junctions” as deliberate intervention points in the procedural setup of RwLs that are, however, still contingent on the normative and methodological expectations of this special type of research. We present five design junctions tied to the questions of how to position an RwL in a politicized environment, deploy an interdisciplinary research team, develop the research program in a participatory way, incentivize transdisciplinarity, and engage with stakeholders and citizens.
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Keywords: Black Forest; co-design; national park; real-world laboratory; regional development; transdisciplinarity

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2018

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  • GAIA is a peer-reviewed inter- and transdisciplinary journal for scientists and other interested parties concerned with the causes and analyses of environmental and sustainability problems and their solutions.

    Environmental problems cannot be solved by one academic discipline. The complex natures of these problems require cooperation across disciplinary boundaries. Since 1991, GAIA has offered a well-balanced and practice-oriented forum for transdisciplinary research. GAIA offers first-hand information on state of the art environmental research and on current solutions to environmental problems. Well-known editors, advisors, and authors work to ensure the high quality of the contributions found in GAIA and a unique transdisciplinary dialogue – in a comprehensible style.

    GAIA is an ISI-journal, listed in the Science Citation Index Expanded, Social Science Citation Index and in Current Contents/Social and Behavioral Sciences.

    All contributions undergo a double-blind peer review.

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