As academic collaborations become increasingly virtual and geographically widespread, researchers are faced with novel challenges, as well as opportunities, as they attempt to create equitable, effective research partnerships. In this essay, the authors highlight the importance of shared reflexive conversations in building a strong foundation for collaboration and the coproduction of knowledge, particularly in the midst of ongoing crises. In so doing, they reflect on their experience of planning research on social innovation in small-scale fishing communities in Africa and Asia, as a team spread across six countries.
Sunil Santha is a faculty at the Centre for Livelihoods and Social Innovation, School of Social Work in TISS Mumbai. As a social work educator with a keen interest in action research and reflective practice, Santha strives toward strengthening climate action and promoting transformative social innovations. His curricular innovation includes developing context-specific models of entrepreneurial action and emergent livelihoods. At the Centre for Livelihoods and Social Innovation, Santha has developed the Adaptive Innovation Model, which strives to design people-centered adaptation strategies that will have the intent and effect of our decisions and actions on the structures and processes shaping equality and justice, care, and empowerment for those who are disadvantaged and vulnerable in society. Such an approach, therefore, involves not only strengthening the adaptive capacities of vulnerable groups but also deconstructing certain dominant narratives that are linked to sustainable livelihoods and climate change adaptation. Sunil’s recent book Climate Change and Adaptive Innovation: A Model for Social Work Practice (Routledge, 2020) has evolved out of these ideas, experiences, and learning. Presently, Santha is working on his new book Fishscapes: Alternative Worldviews, Climate Change, and Blue Justice, which examines the impact of climate change on small-scale fisheries in India.