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Environmental issues are often complex, controversial and associated with uncertain knowledge. In this context, Interdisciplinary and Environment explores the ‘knowledge challenges’ that environmental professionals face in their everyday work. Particular attention is given to the challenges of integrating knowledge across disciplines and sectors. Through a discussion of integrated and interdisciplinary research on the environment we will examine broader questions about the context, forms and purpose of contemporary knowledge production and use for environmental policy and management questions. We will consider the values increasingly used to determine whether certain knowledge is a valid guide for environmental action and how these values both encourage and challenge integrated knowledge for environmental decision making. Incorporating perspectives from a broad range of environmental professionals and academics, the subject draws on and develops students’ practical understanding of knowledge production systems, including the role played by academics, consultants, think tanks, and NGOs in environmental decision making.
The course focuses on the following main questions:
- How does the way we frame environmental issues influence the kinds of knowledge seen as relevant to environmental decision making, and the kinds of solutions we consider? What strategies can assist in reframing environmental problems?
- What are the challenges in integrating knowledge across disciplines and sectors, and what strategies can help environmental professionals meet those challenges?
Intended learning outcomes
On completion of this subject students will be able to:
- Evaluate the ways knowledge is created and applied in a variety of environmental professional practices.
- Distinguish the advantages and disadvantages of interdisciplinary and disciplinary knowledge production for researchers and decision makers in different settings.
- Develop and practice utilising key collaboration skills notably: self-reflexion; clear communication of specialist knowledge; understanding of and respect for others’ perspectives; and integration of different types of knowledge.
Students in this unit should:
1. Enhance their interdisciplinary thinking and learning skills, including skills for collaboration, integration and translation of knowledge across disciplines.
2. Further develop their critical thinking though readings, class discussions, collaboration and assessment.
3. Further develop analytical approaches to environmental issues of complexity and uncertainty.
Last updated: 2 December 2019