In the next Perspectives on Science seminar, David Ludwig (Wageningen University) will give a talk on “What Has Epistemic Diversity Ever Done for Us? Promises and Disappointments of Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research“. This session is organized in cooperation with Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science HELSUS.

The seminar takes place in hybrid format in person and online via Zoom from 14:15 to 15:45 on Monday the 17th of April 2023. To join the seminar, please contact for the location or Zoom invitation.

Perspectives on Science is a weekly research seminar which brings together experts from science studies and philosophy of science. It is organized by TINT – Centre for Philosophy of Social Science at the University of Helsinki. More information about the seminar here.


In the face of social-environmental crises such as biodiversity loss, food security and public health, transdisciplinarity has become increasingly hailed as a “paradigm shift in research practice” (OECD 2020) that mobilizes diverse knowledge for intervention. The promises of transdisciplinarity are both epistemic and political: Mobilizing diverse epistemic resources promises a more robust knowledge basis for intervention while incorporating the concerns and values of marginalized communities who often remain invisible in the academy. Despite these promises, the reality of transdisciplinary research is often marked by disappointments. Academics commonly lack skills and resources for serious knowledge co-creation. And even when co-creation succeeds, it primarily serves dominant interests of dominant actors: academics are doing the integrating, local communities are being integrated. Epistemic diversity is recognized only insofar as it fits into academic frameworks that serve academic purposes. This talk follows a transdisciplinary research project in the Brazilian fishing village of Siribinha to explore both promises and disappointments of transdisciplinarity. Reflecting on seven years of engagement between researchers and fishers, the talk articulates lessons for a transformative transdisciplinarity that challenges rather than legitimizes dominant interests and methods in sustainability science. 

Author bio:

David Ludwig is an associate professor in “Knowledge, Technology, and Innovation” (KTI) Group of Wageningen University and the principal investigator of the “Global Epistemologies and Ontologies” (GEOS) project. He works at the intersection of philosophy of science and development studies with a focus on knowledge diversity among heterogenous actors from Indigenous communities to academically trained scientists. David is passionate about critical thinking about development and about turning philosophical reflection into meaningful and collaborative action.