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 Understanding Environmental Knowledge Controversies


What is interdisciplinarity?

It's the process of drawing from two or more academic disciplines and integrating their different knowledge practices in pursuit of a common goal. This common goal is most commonly of one of two kinds. First, problem solving: i.e. when new ways of addressing a problem that exceeds the competence of just one discipline (e.g. global warming). Second, question framing: i.e. when new ways of defining an issue or object of analysis are required. At its heart, interdisciplinarity is about avoiding the partial framing of problems. The Treasury and other Government bodies responsible for funding research now attach great significance to interdisciplinary modes of working.

This emphasis on addressing problems or framing questions from different perspectives makes interdisciplinary approaches open to the multiplicity of understandings and expertise at play, not just in different branches of science, but also in wider society. This can make interdisciplinary ways of working more relevant and responsive to public needs and concerns. Interdisciplinary working can lead to new perspectives, insights or questions, as researchers engage with other ways of producing knowledge that put their own in perspective.

Our project is an experimental attempt to put both our natural and social skills and ways of working "at risk" by engaging with expert stakeholders and knowledgeable publics in an attempt to generate new framings and approaches to understanding environmental knowledge controversies in the context of rural land management - in this case controversies associated with the science and policy of flood risk management.