Facilitating transdisciplinary sustainable development research teams through online collaboration

Journal Title
International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education
Journal Number
Journal Volume
Journal Pages


The purpose of this paper is to discuss the potential of online communication technologies to facilitate university‐led transdisciplinary sustainable development research and lower the ecological footprints of such research projects. A series of case studies is to be explored.


A one year project is conducted in which a series of research tasks are carried out on an online communications platform. Findings are compared to other examples from the literature.


Online communication technology can be used to facilitate transdisciplinary research tasks, saving time, money and with less environmental impact than that of face‐to‐face meetings. However, in order for online collaboration to be successful the researchers must be very organized and have strong facilitation skills.

Research limitations/implications

The research takes place in a North American setting. Time zone issues and access to sufficient internet technology can be a barrier in global research collaboration.

Practical implications

Online communication technology can be a practical way to lower the environmental impact of the research process and lower the cost of collaborative meetings.


The outcomes of this research suggest online collaboration can play a much larger role in student and faculty research, including but not limited to online research analysis, data collection and field exploration.

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