Repository logo

Dissolving boundaries among applied disciplines: a narrative study of transdisciplinary collaboration during a charrette




Domres, Debra, author
Makela, Carole, advisor
Quick, Don, committee member
Timpson, William, committee member
Leigh, Katharine, committee member

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Charrettes have a long history of use in medical, architectural, and planning professions. An extensive literature search found little application of the charrette model implemented to advance, support, and identify transdisciplinarity (TD) research, transdisciplinary teaming models (TDM), transdisciplinary learning (TDL) supporting transformative learning (TL) among participants. This study highlighted differing approaches among teams as they navigated ideation and proposed solutions advancing comprehension among students of applied disciplines and how each approached, negotiated, and solved community-based problems. I implemented a TDM charrette to address TDL in educational settings. This two charrette case study implemented 1) an exploratory investigation joined a competition to create a high school of the future in underserved Montbello, Colorado, and 2) a proposal to renovate and develop a historic homestead on a working cattle ranch and wildlife reserve to support a multi-generational educational program, in Sedalia, Colorado. Charrettes included college students from architectural design, construction management, education, environmental sciences, and fish and wildlife. High school students were joined by POs from education, business and ranching professions, artists, and authors. Participants were challenged to create programs using site attributes. Charrette's culminated with team project proposals shared with invited stakeholders. Using Hall's four-phases of TD team based experiential learning and Kolb's Learning Style Models I used visual narrative and a sustainability lens to reflect and incorporate participant experiences and outcomes. Findings identified how students experienced charrettes, how they interacted with other disciplines, participant observers (PO)/facilitator observers (FO), and project stakeholders. TDM emphasized the importance of self-reflection revealed by mutual learning of transferable solutions, synthesis of results, and the visibility and relevance to problem solving. Outcomes showed how participants explored, described discipline knowledge; how shared skills shaped and influenced information sharing, leading to transformative learning (TL). Key findings identified knowledge derived from multiple modes of inquiry gained from TDL addressed problems, contributed to transferability. Challenges identified recruitment of participants from more than three disciplines. This study described and shared how participation advanced knowledge production and integration to solve unstructured problems. The TDM charrette supported TDL and knowledge production that bridged solution oriented approaches among participants leading to TL.


Rights Access


transformative learning
narrative studies
architecture construction


Associated Publications