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INNOVATIVE

FORMS

OF CROSS-DISCIPLINARY

COOPERATION

from Sustainability: a cross-disciplinary concept for social transformations by E. Becker, T. Jahn, I. Stiess, P. Wehling

(Institute for Social-Ecological Research). Report

of thefirst phase of the MOST-Project: Development Paradigms and Policies

‘*

“Towards

on the results Sustainable

Existing

models

of cross-disciplinary

cooperation

hierarchical

organization

(.

.).

Here,

a

single

(usually

are natural

often biased towards scientific) discipline is

enthroned as key discipline while others are instrumentalized for certain well-defined questions. This model hardly seems the multi-layered complexity of sustainability issues (_ .).

as auxiliary disciplines suitable for the study of

In order to strucutre the debate about cross disciplinary cooperation, the following section disctinguishes three basic models. All of them are appropriate for cross disciplinary research (. .). However, different implications emerge from these models

of cooperation (. .).

The first model can be referred to as “‘goal-oriented multi-disciplinarity”.

This type of

research examines the possibilities of achieving a given objective, for instance a

reduction

in car exhaust fumes, with the help of various disciplines.

Generally

speaking, the objectives here are specified and fixed in advance by policy makers; the individual disciplines can adhere almost entirely to their traditional methods, theories

and approaches. Within the framework of towards interaction between disciplines.

such research there is only a small impetus

A

“synthesis”,

if

undertaken

at

all,

only

refers to the level of often involves only a stick with the trafIic economic, legal and

results. It is usually done via the policy makers, as clients, and

mere adding together of results from the different disciplines. To

example: possibly

taking the technical behaviour-oriented

options as the point of departure, measures are put forward without

explicit consideration contradictory effects.

of the interaction

of such options

and their

perhaps

(. .) One of the major limitations of this model lies in the fact that, whether implicitly

or explicitly, it works with certain notions various disciplines: economics is usually psychology, technology more important than

of the importance and assumed to be more p o l i t i c s , e t c . ( _ . ) .

ranking of the important than

A second form “problem-oriented

of cross-disciplinary interdisciplinarity”.

cooperation can be addressed in terms of Here too, socially relevant problems or

solutions are at the center of proceedings; the definition of problems, however, is tied

more closely to a scientists involved.

process of In this way,

negotiation the different

between non-scientific

actors and the

disciplines

agree,

at

least

roughly,

on

a

common description certain aspects of the

of the whole

problems

under review;

problem

on a relatively

they then proceed to independent basis and,

process for the

most part, using their however, are viewed in

customary the context

disciplinary theories of results from other

and methods. The result, disciplines, thus becoming

subject to relativization and place, albeit on the level of

modification. Thus findings rather than

an interdisciplinary

exchange takes

that

of

theories

and

methods.

The

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