Transdisciplinarity towards sustainability in agricultural projects in South Africa: a concept analysis
Spies, Muller Ockert
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Agriculture has developed over time and became a critical discourse in South Africa, resulting in more complex and multi-dimensional agricultural projects to address specific issues. These issues include the need to redress past iniquities, contribute towards community health (since there is a strong link between health and agriculture’s social and environmental determinants), and contribute towards reaching the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and outcomes of South Africa’s National Development Plan. Together, these developments and issues necessitate the need to address the concept of sustainability. It is evident from literature that there is not a clear definition and/or understanding of the applied sciences concepts of transdisciplinarity and sustainability at either a universal or contextual level. The need exists for these concepts to be clearly defined and understood at a contextual level towards improved project successes and sustainability. This study explored the concepts of transdisciplinarity and sustainability by means of two separate concept analyses in both cases following the eight steps of concept analysis by Walker and Avant as referenced in 2019 with an aim to elicit improved meaning and understanding of the two concepts in the context of agricultural projects in South Africa. Available national and international literature in the public domain was identified with the guidance of inclusion- and exclusion criteria until saturation was reached – which was indicated when no new contributing data surfaced. 29 (N) documentary sources were identified for the concept of trandisciplinarity of which 27 (n) were analysed and 118 (N) for the concept of sustainability of which 58 (n) were analysed. The review, organising and further in depth exploration of data was facilitated by MS Excel and ATLAS.ti – a qualitative data analysis software program. During this process 99 uses were identified for transdisciplinarity being the first concept analysis and 77 for sustainability being the second concept analysis, 242 defining attributes were determined for transdisciplinairty and 187 for sustainability, 181 antecedents were identified for transdisciplinarity and 775 for sustainability, and 185 consequences were identified for transdisciplinarity and 241 for sustainability. These elements were rigorously refined by a three-phased refining process (identification, refining, filtering and elements) grouping of key and contributed to the compilation of model cases, borderline cases, theoretical definitions, empirical indicators and operational definitions for both the concepts of transdisciplinarity and sustainability in agricultural projects in South Africa. Scientific approval was obtained for the study through the North-West University’s Africa Unit for Transdisciplinary Health Research’s (AUTHeR) scientific committee who classified this study as low risk, and the Health Research Ethics Committee exempted the study from ethical approval but still acknowledged the research. The researcher still attended health research ethics training; had a thorough understanding of the research process; was deemed able to handle the data with the necessary skill after attending an ATLAS.ti workshop; and aimed to ensure truthfulness. The concepts of transdisciplinarity and sustainability proved to have several overlapping elements, but also some that differentiates transdisciplinarity from sustainability as an approach and sustainability as the goal. The outcome of this study is a conceptual framework pertaining to the concepts of transdisciplinarity and sustainability. Graphically depicting transdisciplinarity towards sustainability in agricultural projects in South Africa in a systematic manner, aligned with the functional survey list by Dickoff and James as referenced in 1968.
- Health Sciences