Co-production of new knowledge can enhance open and integrative research processes across the social and natural sciences and across research/science, practice and policy interrelationships. Thus, co-production is important in the conduct of research about and for transformations to sustainability. While co-design is an integral part of co-production, it often receives limited attention in the conduct of co-produced research. This paper reports on lessons learned from an early stage of the co-design process to develop research on deliberate practices for transformative change. Key lessons learned are the need to: (1) ensure co-design processes are themselves carefully designed; (2) encourage emergence of new ways of thinking about problem formulation through co-design; (3) carefully balance risks for the participants involved while also enhancing opportunities for intellectual risk taking; (4) facilitate personal transformations in co-design as a way to stimulate and encourage further creativity; and (5) for funders to carefully and constructively align criteria or incentives through which a project or future proposal will be judged to the goals of the co-design, including for instrumental outcomes and objectives for creativity and imagination. Given that co-design necessarily involves a reflective practice to iteratively guide emergence of new thinking about the practices of change, co-design can itself be considered an important deliberate practice for transforming the conduct of research and the contribution of that research to social transformations.
Page, G., Wise, R. M., Lindenfeld, L., Moug, P., Hodgson, A., Wyborn, C., & Fazey, I. (2016). Co-designing transformation research: lessons learned from research on deliberate practices for transformation. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 20, 86-92. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2016.09.001