This initiative, running since 2015, focuses on inter-disciplinary engagements within a university context, with the aim of developing tools for synthetically bridging geographically isolated, and historically separate academic research domains.
SLU’s landscape field offers the university an in-house model for transdisciplinary work modes. To realise and test this potential, SLU Landscape collects, galvanizes and animates university resources in the landscape field, functioning as a living-lab for collaboration and synthesis work. Doing so, SLU Landscape offers an “open tent” harboring all landscape-field education and research activities and actors at SLU. More than that, it also works as a self-organized Landscape resource network to devise and support collaboration opportunities for individual staff, research groups, educational programs, academic departments, research platforms, and university faculties at SLU. SLU Landscape’s 2020 Report and Strategic Vision states that ‘internationally, landscape research and education are increasingly seen as key vectors of transdisciplinary and action-oriented work on crucial societal challenges like resource scarcity and climate change’, and that ‘landscape research includes many models in one knowledge area; as a composite field, it sets the stage for synthesis work.’
SLU Landscape – what is it, exactly?
SLU Landscape actually refers to three distinct, interrelated constructs: A conceptual construct – it designates a ‘vision’ of collaboration and shared identity across the Landscape field at SLU; a functional construct - it describes an ‘operative entity’ comprised of SLU staff who drive particular activities related to that vision; and an institutional construct – it denotes an ‘innovative organizational arrangement’ that allows five separate existing institutional entities to speak and act, with equity as one, in the interest of strengthening the Landscape field’s position within SLU and SLU’s position in the Landscape field, nationally and internationally.
SLU Landscape offers a compelling research case for Urban Futures and its Synthesis Lab. At every level (conceptual, operational and institutional) it requires individuals to think and work in unfamiliar, and even at times uncomfortable ways. The SLU Landscape living-lab challenges existing organizational norms; it poses threats to established institutional power structures. Taking risks forms the foundation of the SLU L “living-lab” experiment to develop and test new inter and transdisciplinary collaboration formats, and since any serious futures-oriented research platform should actively advocate for and support new ways of working and thinking, taking risks also lies at the heart of SLU Urban Futures.