Moving Health Upstream in Urban Development: Reflections on the Operationalization of a Transdisciplinary Case Study

Daniel Black, Gabriel Scally, Judy Orme, Alistair Hunt, Paul Pilkington, Roderick Lawrence, Kristie Ebi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper describes the development, conceptualization, and implementation
of a transdisciplinary research pilot, the aim of which is to understand how
human and planetary health could become a priority for those who control the
urban development process. Key challenges include a significant dislocation
between academia and the real world, alongside systemic failures in valuation
and assessment mechanisms. The National Institutes of Health four-phase
model of transdisciplinary team-based research is drawn on and adapted
to reflect on what has worked well and what has not operationally. Results
underscore the need for experienced academics open to new collaborations
and ways of working; clarity of leadership without compromising exploration;
clarification of the poorly understood “impacts interface” and navigation
toward effective real world impact; acknowledgement of the additional
time and resource required for transdisciplinary research and “nonacademic”
researchers. Having practitioner-researchers as part of the research leadership
team requires rigourous reflective practice and effective management,
but it can also ensure breadth in transdisciplinary outlook as well as constant
course correction toward real-world impact. It is important for the research
community to understand better the opportunities and limitations provided by
knowledge intermediaries in terms of function, specialism, and experience.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1700103
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages12
JournalGlobal Challenges
Issue number1700103
Early online date7 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2019

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