Collaborative design of an interdisciplinary collaboration platform to advance sustainability


Greater progress in sustainability requires more open knowledge systems and improved tools for collaborating across disciplines and social barriers. In this lab, participants from diverse disciplines develop the design of a digital collaboration platform for sustainability – a shared space for connecting research with education and knowledge with action. The platform is based on a meta-framework of sustainability which visualises relationships among nature, society and the built environment across scales. It provides a common framework to build a connected community and transform how we think, communicate and collaborate on sustainability.



Recent advances in theory and digital technology converge towards clearer thinking and communication on sustainability. Combining these, the workshops aim to explore a new digital collaboration platform for sustainability. Participants will use a visual navigator to draw together diverse multi-media content with an equally diverse community – designing a shared space for connecting research with education and knowledge with action. This would provide substantial support to existing knowledge networks working to advance sustainability.



By enhancing knowledge-sharing, communication and collaboration across disciplines, workshop participants will examine how the platform can accelerate progress toward all 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals. But the potential implications of a global collaboration platform run much deeper. By engaging diverse members of the community in collective action, this platform seeks to transform the very social institutions which brought about many of the issues we now face. Furthermore, the way we communicate shapes our culture and our minds. New means of communicating complexity unlock new ways of thinking. And many successful precedents exist – collaborative networks supported by digital platforms have already transformed many aspects of our society – from ride-sharing to street maps to collaborative encyclopaedias. The time is ripe for the sustainability agenda to follow suit and develop a transformative collaboration platform.



While the opportunities are significant, critical questions remain: What barriers might such a platform help to address? What form should it take? Who would use it and how? How might it be used differently by a researcher, an educator, a practitioner or an engaged citizen? More specifically, how might we design a conceptual framework/content navigator to show relationships among aspects of our natural environment, built environment and society across scales?

The University of Queensland, Australia
Project Leader
Ray Maher – School of Earth and Environmental Science, The University of Queensland
Project Leader
Sam Mann – Professor of Sustainable Practice in CapableNZ, Otago Polytechnic