On the 16/09/2021, topic line 4 "New Formats" successfully conducted the third dialogue forum (to the first two dialogue forums) for td researchers and interested stakeholders from academia and practice within the framework of a "Real-Time" session at ITD 2021. This short report summarizes the proceedings and results of the ITD 2021 Real-Time Session.

The first two dialogue forums in March and July 2021 were followed in mid-September by the third dialogue forum of the thematic line 4 "The role and shape of innovative formats in different transformative research settings" as a "Real-Time Session (RT 5.1)" within the framework of the purely online International Transdisciplinarity Conference 2021 (ITD21). ITD21 is an international conference on transdisciplinarity organised by the Network for Transdisciplinary Research and the Transdisciplinarity Lab at ETH Zurich. In total, over 500 td interested people and experts participated in the conference. Some innovative formats have gained popularity (e.g. Real-World-Labs, Rhodius et al. 2021) and are applied in various fields of action and contexts with the aim of achieving social (and partly also scientific) effects. Other new innovative transdisciplinary formats have (further) developed on the basis of a wide variety of needs and application contexts, partly from combinations of methods, and enrich transdisciplinary research. Based on these observations and developments, about 50 td researchers and practitioners with diverse (inter-)disciplinary and (inter-)cultural backgrounds exchanged their experiences in the application of innovative formats and possible modifications of methods in RT 5.1.

Central guiding questions for the workshop were: What is specifically "new" about innovative formats? Why and when do we need innovative formats? What are the challenges in using td formats? And which methods (combinations) support certain td formats or are particularly useful in a certain td phase? The conceptual distinction between methods and formats were also the subject of discussion.

After a short input on the structure of the tdAcademy, the organisers of the workshop introduced central understandings and concepts. In particular, a conceptual distinction was made between transdisciplinarity versus transformation, "old" versus "innovative/new" formats and formats versus methods (Brohmann et al. 2021). Subsequently, three different formats AExpertirience, Transmente and living labs in SISCODE) were presented, each of which represented an innovation or had innovative elements in its concrete form or context of application and could therefore stimulate the in-depth discussion on the added value or need for innovative formats as well as potential criteria and challenges of specific formats.

Presentation of selected innovative td formats in the context of AExpertirience (Walbrodt 2021), the Transmente approach in the s:ne process (Kleihauer 2021) and the Lab case study in the context of SISCODE (Schmittinger 2021).

In the moderated small group discussions following the input phase, the focus was on the discourse on the different degrees of innovativeness, openness and structuredness implemented in the td formats presented (structured: e.g. Transmente; hybrid: e.g. SISCODE; unstructured-open: e.g. AExpertirience). Based on the heterogeneity of the format settings, the plenary reflected on different use cases, the scientific and practical added value (research vs. action) and the challenges of innovative td formats. The focus was on reflections on the integration of new informal and at the same time interventional formats, such as artistic approaches, into td research. Starting from the question of what research contribution art can provide, the experimental value of artistic interventions as an "entry point" into the discourse, the "healing momentum" in cases of conflict and as a new perspective on discursive distributions of power and ownership, in summary an "initiative force" of art, were accentuated.

The innovation potential of formats is not only determined by new combinations of methods (e.g. artistic elements in td settings), but significantly by how new social challenges can be addressed on an emotional and interactive level through the integration of different social and human dimensions (space, values, aesthetics, technologies, culture, communication) along the entire life cycle (e.g. of products or services). A special sensitivity for the specific contextuality of innovative formats was emphasised as a central success factor and at the same time challenge (e.g. in the development of goal orientations, reception of problem impulses, constructive actor constellations etc.) for successful td approaches. In addition, entrenched structures, established power relations and institutional path dependencies can represent a particular difficulty for the realisation of new problem-solving paths by means of innovative td approaches (research and action).


Ideas and results of reflection on the guiding questions of the workshop from the consolidating plenary discussion

Short report (PDF version)

First short documentations are already available for both dialogue forums:

Dialogforum 1: Workshop-Dokumentation des Online-Workshops vom 17. März 2021. Schader Stiftung

Dialogforum 2: Dokumentation des Online-Workshops am 23. Juli 2021. Öko-Institut e.V.


Brohmann, B./ Mbah, M./ Kelly, R. (2021): ITD 2021-Workshop Concept (RT 5.1) – “The role and shape of innovative formats in different transformative research settings”; 16.9.2021; Online.

Heinrichs, H./ Walbrodt (2021): AExpertirience. https://hoernemann-walbrodt.de/aexpertirience/.

Kleihauer, S. (2021): Transment process in a nutshell. Input; ITD 2021-Workshop “The role and shape of innovative formats in different transformative research settings”; 16.9.2021; Online.

Rhodius, R.; Bachinger, M.; Koch, B. (2021): Wildnis, Wald, Mensch. Forschungsbeiträge zur Entwicklung einer Nationalparkregion am Beispiel des Schwarzwalds. München: oekom.

Schmittinger, F. (2021): SISCODE: Co-Design for Society in Innovation and Science. Input; ITD 2021-Workshop “The role and shape of innovative formats in different transformative research settings”; 16.9.2021; Online.

Schmittinger, F./ Mariani, I./ Deserti, A./ Rizzo, F. (2021): SISCODE – Co-Design for Society in Innovation and Science. https://siscodeproject.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/D5.2_Interactive_Guidebook.pdf

Walbrodt (2021): Path and goal: sustainable development of the joint municipality of Wathlingen – an artistic-scientific exploration. Input; ITD 2021-Workshop “The role and shape of innovative formats in different transformative research settings”; 16.9.2021; Online.