Transdisciplinarity from the Grassroots: Exploring Student-led Dialogues for Sustainability

Gabriela Gutierrez-Huerter O, Sarah Glozer, Anica Zeyen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Downloads (Pure)


The responses of higher education (HE) institutions towards the climate crisis and escalating social inequalities have been researched from either “top-down” (i.e., institutionally-led) or “bottom-up” (i.e., student-led) perspectives. As scholars call for enhanced insight into the space between these two poles, this paper provides an autoethnographical account of a “bottom-up” network led by doctoral students – Researchers 4 Sustainability (R4S) – initiated within a UK university to contest “top-down” structures by way of disciplinary silos. Likening disciplines to communicative subsystems, we draw on a social constructivist perspective of dialogue to demonstrate how three forms of dialogue – exploring, explaining and expanding – support not just the transcending of disciplinary boundaries, but crucially, institutional hierarchies, in the creation of sustainability knowledge. Herein, we introduce a framework against which to organise student-led dialogues relative to their inter- and/or trans- disciplinary orientations and offer recommendations for theory and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2024


  • autoethnography
  • dialogue
  • doctoral students
  • higher education
  • interdisciplinarity
  • sustainability
  • transdisciplinarity

Cite this