Rigolot, Cyrille (2019). Quantum theory as a source of insights to close the gap between Mode 1 and Mode 2 transdisciplinarity: Potentialities, pitfalls and a possible way forward. Sustainability Science. (ePub in advance of print) (Link: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-019-00730-8)

Abstract: There are many definitions of transdisciplinary, and several typologies. Particularly, Scholz and Steiner (Sustain Sci 10(4):527–544, 2015a) distinguish a theoretical “Mode 1”, largely inspired by quantum theory, and a practical “Mode 2” transdisciplinarity involving multi-stakeholder approaches. So far, Modes 1 and 2 have been developed independently. In this paper, I discuss the potential of using insights from quantum theory in participatory problem-solving projects, as a way to close this gap. Methodological and ontological insights are distinguished. Methodological insights are quantum-inspired tools and methodologies that can enhance effective stakeholders’ participation. Examples are Q methodology, generalization of the complementarity principle for sustainability assessment, and agential realism. Ontological insights correspond to possible influences of quantum effects at the macro-scale, such as in the controversial “quantum consciousness” hypothesis by Wendt (Quantum mind and social science. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2015). The proposed strategy is to combine robust methodological insights with a careful exploration of ontological insights, being aware of their highly speculative character. As an illustration, I show how this strategy could enable a constructive dialogue between academic sciences and the practitioners of biodynamic agriculture, which has been almost inexistent to date, in a transdisciplinary problem-solving perspective. To conclude, this strategy is risky but potentially essential to foster deep sustainability transformations.

Cyrille Rigolot <cyrille.rigolot@clermont.inra.fr> is in the Département Sciences pour l’Action et le Développement (SAD), French National Institute for Agricultural Research, Saint Genès-Champanelle, France.