Why the methods used to engage with places and participants in sustainability research matter
The embodied researcher is a model of engaging in sustainability research that emerged in the context of our collaboration in the SUSPLACE network, a program studying sustainable place-shaping practices around Europe.
The model emerged from our inquiries with 15 researchers that were once part of the SUSPLACE network and is described in the scientific paper titled “Operationalising transformative sustainability science through place‑based research: the role of researchers'' (available here). The paper builds upon the five roles of researchers of Wittmayer and Schäpke (2014)- reflective researcher, process facilitator, knowledge broker, change agent and self-reflexive scientist- to reflect upon the roles and methods of place-based sustainability researchers.
Based on our findings we introduce the ‘embodied researcher’ (image above). The model portrays research as a process of place-based inquiry & self-transformation. The embodied researcher integrates different roles during the research process, depending on the relations developed with the place and with communities (feet), theoretical understanding (brain), normative positionality (heart) and capacities and networks (hands).
We conclude that...
The model of embodied researcher acknowledges and legitimates a type of researcher that focuses on the process (the ‘how’) and is a vehicle for experimentation, empowerment and self-transformation.
This type of research might be in conflict with dominant academic practice, so there is a need to develop new metrics of academic social impact grounded on the premises of embodied researchers.
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