Sustainable development research is inherently interdisciplinary; it requires the conscious search for unifying concepts that foster and reinforce understanding across disciplines. In addition, the number of sectors and actors involved in potential solutions requires a multistakeholder approach to decision making. The challenge of sustainable development research increasingly presents itself as a problem-solving activity. It involves producing useful knowledge through applied research. It is normative and not value-free. It involves complex issues of polity and culture. Thus, sustainable development research needs novel methods for research, for bringing together expertise that crosses disciplines and sectors, and for informing policy development. It also requires an unprecedented level of integration between the natural and social sciences. This paper describes how the lessons learned from a multistakeholder roundtable have been applied to the development of deliberatively designed, transdisciplinary, electronic spaces for synchronous dialogue on sustainable development and other critical public policy issues. This approach has now evolved into a novel research data collection method for students.
Ecology and Society