How to co-design a more desirable future

Transdiscliplinary research and co-design in practice | 22-23 November 2016 | Stockholm, Sweden

How to co-design a more desirable future | Michelle Slaney

This 1.5 day workshop provided training in transdisciplinary skills and co-design methodology, the main steps required to prepare a stakeholder interaction plan for a research project, and the principles of knowledge co-production. Importantly, the workshop afforded the opportunity for participants to apply these learnings and processes to their own projects, one key features that made this workshop so valuable and successful. “Having the possibility to work on and discuss one’s own project with the trainers (and other participants), who were clearly experts in the field of transdisciplinary research, co-design and co-production, and receive their immediate and direct feedback/guidance was fantastic.

Another feature that made this workshop such a success was that it provided the opportunity for participants from Future Earth core projects (IPOs, SSCs, scientists), National Committees (members, early-career scientists), secretariats and regional centres, Science and Engagement Committees, and other Future Earth–related stakeholders and researchers to get acquainted with one another, as well as gaining an understanding of what colleagues are working on. This was the first time that people in core projects had ever met and discussed the substance and details of each other’s projects, and this proved to be one of the most valuable things that nearly all participants had cited as a key take away/outcome of the workshop.

Representing the Arctic Regional Node of Future Earth Coasts, and with co-design and co-production at the very heart of everything we do at FEC, particularly in the Arctic region, participating in this workshop was important for several reasons. First of all, it was an opportunity to highlight our work and learn from others about their work and activities ongoing in other core projects so that we may align some of our efforts and mutually benefit from sharing resources and networks. Secondly, I participated in both of the webinars on transdisciplinary research and co-design (the first was held on 11 May 2016 and the second on the 27 September 2016) organised by Future Earth Europe, so attending this workshop completed the entire training module on transdisciplinary research and co-design.  And finally, this workshop was very timely given that we are preparing a document that reports on best practice of engagement relating to resilient coastal communities (be it through transdisciplinary research and its related processes, resource development and social acceptability, or other successful stakeholder engagements). This document will apply approaches and methodologies of co-design and co-production with people engaged in projects in the Arctic region.

The opportunity to meet colleagues from other core projects and gain a better understanding each others activities resulted in a process of discovery and meaningful networking. Discovery of synergies and areas of common interest/focus within and between core projects will ultimately lead to better collaboration. For instance, through this workshop, I became acquainted with, among others, Professor Carole Crumley from Uppsala University, and Executive Director of IHOPE (Integrated History and Future of People on Earth) and the work of IHOPE. We discovered that each of our core projects has an Arctic regional focus, and respective network, the expertise of which are different but complementary. We have corresponded and had several exchanges since the workshop, introducing relevant colleagues to each other and discussing potential future collaboration.

Another key outcome from this workshop was the idea of establishing a co-design clinic or forum where Future Earth-related researchers could seek guidance on the co-design of projects or co-production of knowledge. There were some discussions about the modality and how this could potentially be financed, and what level of expertise would be required and how frequently. One potential way to realize this at low or no-cost would be through establishing a roster of experts, trainers and /or workshop alumni, and establish a forum wherein researchers could ask questions and seek guidance.

More information and web links to the live streams of the event:

Trainer organisations include the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), University of Bern td-net, Network for Transdisciplinary Research, Swiss Academy of Arts and Sciences International Social Science Council (ISSC), Susanne Moser Research & Consulting.

Workshop organisers include the European Alliance of Global Change Research Committees, Future Earth, Swedish National Committee for Global Change Research, and the Swedish Secretariat for Environmental Earth System Sciences (SSEESS). The main organiser and contact person was Dr. Tanja Suni (, Executive Director, European Alliance of Global Change Research Committees and Secretary General, Future Earth Finland.

The workshop was livestreamed, and the video from both days can be viewed at the following links:

Day 1 –

Day 2 –

The full programme is also available online.