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Towards the Three Dimensions of Sustainability for International Research Team Collaboration: Learnings from the Sustainable and Healthy Food Systems Research Programme

Davids, Rashieda; Scheelbeek, Pauline; Sobratee, Nafiisa; Green, Rosemary; Häesler, Barbara; Mabhaudhi, Tafadzwanashe; Chatterjee, Suparna; Srinivasapura Venkateshmurthy, Nikhil; Mace, Georgina; Dangour, Alan; Slotow, Rob

Authors

Rashieda Davids

Pauline Scheelbeek

Nafiisa Sobratee

Rosemary Green

Barbara Häesler

Tafadzwanashe Mabhaudhi

Suparna Chatterjee

Nikhil Srinivasapura Venkateshmurthy

Georgina Mace

Alan Dangour

Rob Slotow



Abstract

This paper highlights the potential for learning and virtual collaboration in international research teams to contribute towards sustainability goals. Previous research confirmed the environmental benefits of carbon savings from international virtual conferences. This paper adds the social and economic dimensions by using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods to measure the constraints and benefits for personal development, economic costs, efficiency and team learning of holding international virtual conferences (VCs). Using the Sustainable and Healthy Food Systems (SHEFS) research programme as a case study, we analysed VC participant survey data to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of VCs. We estimated 'saved' GHG emissions , costs, and time, of using VCs as an alternative for a planned in-person meeting in Chennai, India. Hosting VCs reduced North-South, gender, and researcher inclusivity concerns, financial and travelling time costs, and substantially reduced emissions. For one international meeting with 107 participants, changing to a virtual format reduced the per capita GHG emissions to half the annual global average, and avoided 60% of travel costs. The benefits of VCs outweighed weaknesses. The main strengths were inclusivity and access, with 20% more early/mid-career researchers attending. This study identified opportunities for international research partnerships to mitigate their carbon footprint (environmental benefit) and enhance inclusivity of early/mid-career, women and Global South participants (social benefit), whilst continuing to deliver effective collaborative research meetings (economic benefit). In doing so, we present a holistic view of sustainability opportunities for virtual collaboration.

Citation

Davids, R., Scheelbeek, P., Sobratee, N., Green, R., Häesler, B., Mabhaudhi, T., …Slotow, R. (2021). Towards the Three Dimensions of Sustainability for International Research Team Collaboration: Learnings from the Sustainable and Healthy Food Systems Research Programme. Sustainability, 13(22), 12427. https://doi.org/10.3390/su132212427

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 2, 2021
Online Publication Date Nov 10, 2021
Publication Date Nov 10, 2021
Deposit Date Nov 10, 2021
Publicly Available Date Nov 11, 2021
Publisher MDPI
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 13
Issue 22
Pages 12427
DOI https://doi.org/10.3390/su132212427
Keywords sustainability; climate change; carbon footprint; virtual conference; transdisciplinary team; virtual team; learning
Public URL https://rvc-repository.worktribe.com/output/1552492