Advancing good practices in building interdisciplinarity: moving towards user-oriented science (CRN 3101)

Project information

Marcelo Saguier (
Andrea K. Gerlak (
Área de Relaciones Internacionales, Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO) (Argentina)
Feb 2014/ Feb 2017, USD 125,000


Executive Summary

To address global change, interdisciplinary research must link scientific knowledge to policy applications and be focused on user and result-oriented problem solving. New insights and practical guidance are needed to improve the mobilization of knowledge and interdisciplinary problem and solution-oriented projects.

This project aims to advance good practices in building interdisciplinarity for global change research. Our overall goal is to reflect on and improve the current practices of knowledge generation, mobilization and use with respect to the social and environmental impacts of hydropower development and water-energy futures in South America. Fostering dialogue between diverse stakeholders involved in the processes of construction and contestation of knowledge on transboundary waters in relation to dams and hydropower development is central to the exploration of the possibilities and limitations of interdisciplinary knowledge building.

This project seeks to contribute to advancing our understanding of the potential of interdisciplinarity for water governance through a series of three capacity-building workshops and collaborative work to (1) identify interdisciplinary global change research questions; (2) craft a set of best practices for interdisciplinary research; and (3) build an interdisciplinary socio-scientific network between natural and social scientists, policy-makers and social actors involved in water politics as governance mechanisms and practices. In addition to these two reports and the creation of the socio-scientific network, other project deliverables include: website development and maintenance supporting network activities; and the production and publishing of two academic papers in peer reviewed journals. Our focus on the Uruguay River Basin allows us to pursue these questions in the context of solving real problems of mitigation and adaptation to global change. This project will contribute to better informing the design and implementation of future interdisciplinary global change research programs.
Partnering with CNR3 researchers.

We have initiated discussions with researchers leading the project titled “Innovative Science and Influential Policy Dialogues for Water Security in the Arid Americas” to explore possibilities for joint work. Although this project is working on different river basins in South America, we can see some good overlap regarding the questions of global change dynamics as well as the capacity building and network approach. In addition, we think we can build partnerships beyond this specific project to pursue science integration goals. We propose to put out a call to CNR3 researchers to join our efforts and participate in our project workshops to identify global change research questions, craft best practices for interdisciplinary, user-oriented research and form a socio-scientific network around interdisciplinary global change research. In this way, we can help build a “network of networks”.