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Transdisciplinary Research, Transformational Learning, and Transformative Science: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Revisited
Abstract: Mechanistic understanding of the relationship between inter- and trans-disciplinary research and potentially transformative science are lacking. Jeanne Fair from Los Alamos National Laboratory will review a case study of a highly successful, long-term, transdisciplinary research effort that leads to the discovery of Hantavirus in 1993 in New Mexico. The review of this historical scientific event shows that transformative research depends on human and material foundations within disciplines, effective collaborative mutualism across disciplines, and a learning process that enables knowledge synthesis across diverse perspectives. The review shows that deliberate engagement in disorienting activities that arise during transdisciplinary collaboration initiates transformational learning, the key mechanism for generating new, creative scientific understanding. The model provides a generalized mechanistic framework for understanding how transformative science is generated, consistent with classic studies of the structure of scientific revolutions.