chapter  5
20 Pages

Transdisciplinarity as transformation: a cybersystemic thinking in practice perspective


Based on its etymology the prefi x ‘trans’, is usually taken to mean ‘over’ or ‘across’ or ‘on the other side of’, but it also means ‘surpassing’ or ‘transcending’ and ‘into another state or form’ (Brown 1993). Words and the meanings we give to them are tricky; just like our world, nothing about them is really stable.1 So in these few ascriptions of meaning from the dictionary there are, at least, two competing conceptions – one a linear conception involving a shift from one side to another, as is classically understood with the linear, systematic paradigms of knowledge and/or technology transfer from one person or group to another (Ison and Russell 2007). The other is a systemic conception more akin to the idea of emergence from systems theory – the conception that the properties of a whole are different to the sum of the parts as in, I will claim, ‘transform’ and ‘transdisciplinary’ (TD).