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Exploration into a Transdisciplinary Model for International Sustainable Development Projects

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  131596078,  2013 Kansas City, Missouri, July 21 - July 24, 2013. (doi: @2013
Authors:   Christopher M Limiac, Michael R Sheehan, John H Lumkes
Keywords:   Transdisciplinary International Sustainable Development Purdue.

Abstract. International development is often focused on the donation of goods or the transfer of technology from aid organizations to citizens of developing countries. These projects may experience limited success when it comes to sustainable development of the lives of the project recipients, due to the lack of a thorough understanding of the local culture where the project is taking place. To address these difficulties, many groups have pushed for a context based approach to development. Project impact and sustainability is improved when project partners are included from the beginning in the planning and design of the project. Often times, this can be noted by a technique of combining the traditional physical science disciplines of engineering and agriculture with quantitative human based studies of anthropology and history. Multiple case studies and instances exist in which sustainable development endeavors have successfully employed a collaborative and transdisciplinary design model. However, no widely accepted models or common approaches to context-based projects currently exist to demonstrate ‘best practices’ for development work. The objective of this paper and of further research is to review and analyze methods of transdisciplinary project development involving historic, economic, and social aspects of a culture with a technical solution, to maximize the likelihood project success. These projects will be guided by a transdisciplinary approach to analyze various potential impacts of the project, along with incorporating local input and knowledge. The research will also analyze the failures and difficulties of the project and method, and provide potential solutions or areas for investigation into improving this system. This knowledge can be used by various development organizations, institutions of higher learning, and governments to improve the work they are already doing in the field of development, and potentially open the door for more involvement, by clarifying how development projects work.

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