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Centre for Climate and Energy Transformation (CET)
CET Lunch Seminar

Discussing environmental knowledge face-to-face: How experts' (non)participation in transdisciplinary workshops is shaped by (un)comfortable knowledge

Welcome to our CET lunch seminar with Ph.D. Candidate Maurice Skelton from ETH Zürich, Wednesday the 4th of September at 12.15.

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Maurice Skelton's doctoral studies analyses how cities and sectors perceive and discuss more frequent and intense heat waves; what adaptation options are proposed, supported or resisted; and how knowledge and imaginations about the future flow between 'practice' and 'science'.
Photo:
Judith Dalsgård/CET

Main content

Transdisciplinarity and co-production praise knowledge integration in face-to-face participation as a central element and core process. This presentation explores two often separately researched challenges to such endeavours, and argues that they are co-constitutive: (a) 'communities of practice' (Haas) or ‘thought styles’ (Fleck) differ in their appropriation or resistance of environmental knowledge into their work; and (b) actors unconsciously commit to face-to-face interactions far more often when they can perform themselves ‘well’ (Goffman). Using n=25 semi-structured interviews and observations from n=2 transdisciplinary workshops on ‘adaptation to urban heat’, I empirically trace how these two challenges shape who participates in td workshops how. My results imply that integrating stakeholders from various disciplines to co-produce knowledge crucially depends on stakeholders being ‘comfortable’ enough with the issue-at-hand to discuss it in face-to-face interactions. By linking up strands of sociological research on knowledge transfer with sociological descriptions of face-to-face interactions, I believe to add explanatory power to (non)participation and the difficulties in knowledge sharing.

About Maurice 

In his doctoral studies, Maurice analyses how cities and sectors perceive and discuss more frequent and intense heat waves; what adaptation options are proposed, supported or resisted; and how knowledge and imaginations about the future flow between 'practice' and 'science'. As a part of his PhD he also runs stakeholder dialogue activities of the new Swiss climate scenarios CH2018.

Before starting his Master's degree at ETH Zurich in Environmental Sciences, Maurice has received a B.Sc. in Biology and worked for two years in an environmental consultancy. He undertook his Master's thesis in an exchange with Prof. Suraje Dessai and his Climate Change Adaptation Group at the University of Leeds, UK.

portrait of Maurice Skelton
Photo:
ETH Zurich