This study discusses the opportunities and challenges of implementing Transdisciplinarity (TD) in the academic systems of Armenia and Georgia.

Transdisciplinarity is a new approach for the South Caucasus academic system. While applied research and fieldwork in the rural areas are constitute part of university practices, cooperation among various university departments, as well as cooperation with the local stakeholders throughout the teaching or research projects is a new approach. 

Tourism has been chosen taking into consideration its integrative nature. This includes universities and researchers, different stakeholders, local population etc. Tourism could be a good example of integration of different academic disciplines with non-academic practice and experience in order to solve real-life problems and provide sustainable development.

Problem description

Transdisciplinary orientations in research, education and institutions try to overcome the mismatch between knowledge production in academia and knowledge requests for solving societal problems (Hirsch Hadorn et al. 2008). In Armenia and in Georgia the higher educational institutions are the key actors of preparing knowledge and highly qualified specialists. Traditionally, and still common in universities of our time, teaching has been following a sender-receiver model (Stauffacher et al. 2006). The problem appears when students after graduation face real life problems. Many of them fail beacuse they are not ready for solving real-world problems.

In this thesis I will attemp to analyse the structure of higher educational institutions of Armenia and Georgia and discuss the challenges and opportunities of implementating Transdisciplinary in order to facilitate better solving of real-life problems .

State of Art

There are different definitions of Transdisciplinarity. In summary, there are about four core concerns which show up in definitions of ‘transdisciplinarity’ or related terms (Hirsch Hadorn et al. 2008):

  • focus on life-world problems;
  • transcending and integrating of disciplinary paradigms;
  • participatory research;
  • search for unity of knowledge beyond disciplines

Higher educational institutions of Armenia and Georgia are the main actors of creating knowledge and prepare specialists. Transdisciplinary approach implementation into academic system of Armenia and Georgia will help us to improve teaching methods as well as create a new knowledge with academic and non-academic people.

Research questions and objectives

The preliminary research questions are:

Q1. What can TD mean in the case of the South Caucasus countries?

Q2. How Academic System actors see their role and the role of practitioners in case of Transdiciplinarity.

As a complex system which includes different academic disciplines we choose our case study - Tourism to find out

Q3 How can Tourism teaching be organized to achieve Transdisciplinarity.

Q4. What is the possible changes that are necessary in Academic System of Armenia and Georgia to achieve TD.


The main objective of the proposed PhD research is to reveal appropriate ways of applying international experiences in transdisciplinary approaches into the academic system of Armenia and Georgia. The researcher will examine practical cases of cooperation among the communities and universities, implemented through the CaucaSusT project in Armenia, as well as in Georgia, in order to provide for comparison within the Caucasus region.

Expected results

The research project will be an attempt to analyze the societal role of the Universities of Armenia and Georgia. Through TD research the possible changes that are necessary in Academic System of Armenia and Georgia, in order to solve real-life problems, would be find out.

The project CaucaSusT

The project Transdisciplinarity for Sustainable Tourism Development in the Caucasus Region (CaucaSusT), implemented in Armenia and Georgia in cooperation with Austrian, Georgian and Armenian universities, will involve introducing a transdisciplinary case study course at Armenian State Pedagogical University/ASPU (Armenia) and Tbilisi State University/TSU (Georgia).


Hirsch Hadorn, G., Biber-Klemm, S., Grossenbacher-Mansuy, W., Hoffmann-Riem, H., Joye, D., Pohl, C., et al. (2008). Handbook of transdisciplinary research (Vol. 10). Dordrecht: Springer.

Stauffacher, M., Walter, A. I., Lang, D. J., Wiek, A., & Scholz, R. W. (2006). Learning to research environmental problems from a functional socio‐cultural constructivism perspective. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 7(3), 252-275