Volume XXXVII • Issue 2/3 • 2020

Methods for Inter- and Transdisciplinary Research and Learning based on Paulo Freire

Special issue editors: Ulli Vilsmaier, Gerald Faschingeder, Juliana Mercón


Paulo Freires approach to alphabetization and conscientization incorporates ground-breaking principles for individual and social transformation. The idea of learning to ‘read and to write the world’ embraces the appropriation of the world through understanding, and a belonging to a world to which we inscribe ourselves in order to transform it. Learning how to read the world aims at providing orientation and awareness of one’s own positionality and situatedness, while learning how to write the world allows for (re-)capturing the power of world-making. The underlying principle of what Paulo Freire calls praxis is that reflection and action are interconnected like two sides of a coin.

It is this entanglement of reflection and action that is of interest when it comes to establish transformative research. Sustainability scientists call for a mode of research that not only contributes to explanation and understanding, following epistemic aims, but one that contributes to transformations towards more sustainability alike, following transformative aims. This shift has strong implications for the understanding of research. First, it raises the question, who is considered to be legitimized to research. Second, the diversification of research objectives has significant methodological consequences that require different procedures and quality criteria. And third, these methods need to be both concrete enough to train and open enough to adapt to the specificity of the research situation.




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