Abstract Title

Session S-02H: Integrating the Social and Natural Sciences for Decision Making

Keywords

Social Science Plus

Start Date

30-4-2014 1:30 PM

End Date

30-4-2014 3:00 PM

Description

In an effort to address the complexity of socio-ecological problems, environmental scientists and decision-makers increasingly call for the integration of natural and social sciences in research and application. Yet collaborative efforts continue to be limited by a misunderstanding of different disciplines and a lack of deliberate strategies to bridge disciplinary differences. This paper summarizes concepts and tools for integration from the literature on interdisciplinarity, and reports lessons learned from two cross-disciplinary experiences: teaching a University of Washington doctoral seminar on interdisciplinary environmental research, and collaborating as an anthropologist with marine scientists at NOAA. Two major principles for successful interdisciplinary integration emerge: 1) it requires learning not only about different disciplines, but also about the philosophical workings and limitations of one’s own discipline to a greater degree than would otherwise be considered necessary, and 2) it requires cultivating a specific set of skills and attitudes. This paper will describe several tools for structuring a group’s learning about their respective disciplines, including the Jargon Board and Philosophical Toolbox, and it will introduce an accepted typology for integration: cross-, multi-, inter- and trans-disciplinarity. The paper will also discuss attitudes and skills recommended for interdisciplinarians, including respect for other disciplines, comfort with ambiguity and dissonance, creative thinking, self-questioning, and investment in interpersonal relationships. Finally, the paper will reflect on how integrating the natural and social sciences may benefit the recovery of the Salish Sea ecosystem.

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Apr 30th, 1:30 PM Apr 30th, 3:00 PM

Integrating the Natural and Social Sciences: An Introduction

Room 607

In an effort to address the complexity of socio-ecological problems, environmental scientists and decision-makers increasingly call for the integration of natural and social sciences in research and application. Yet collaborative efforts continue to be limited by a misunderstanding of different disciplines and a lack of deliberate strategies to bridge disciplinary differences. This paper summarizes concepts and tools for integration from the literature on interdisciplinarity, and reports lessons learned from two cross-disciplinary experiences: teaching a University of Washington doctoral seminar on interdisciplinary environmental research, and collaborating as an anthropologist with marine scientists at NOAA. Two major principles for successful interdisciplinary integration emerge: 1) it requires learning not only about different disciplines, but also about the philosophical workings and limitations of one’s own discipline to a greater degree than would otherwise be considered necessary, and 2) it requires cultivating a specific set of skills and attitudes. This paper will describe several tools for structuring a group’s learning about their respective disciplines, including the Jargon Board and Philosophical Toolbox, and it will introduce an accepted typology for integration: cross-, multi-, inter- and trans-disciplinarity. The paper will also discuss attitudes and skills recommended for interdisciplinarians, including respect for other disciplines, comfort with ambiguity and dissonance, creative thinking, self-questioning, and investment in interpersonal relationships. Finally, the paper will reflect on how integrating the natural and social sciences may benefit the recovery of the Salish Sea ecosystem.