Presentation on theme: "Joshua C. Farley University of Vermont Community Development and Applied Economics Gund Institute for Ecological Economics sustainability science."— Presentation transcript:
Joshua C. Farley University of Vermont Community Development and Applied Economics Gund Institute for Ecological Economics sustainability science
Outline of presentation ⇨ What is Sustainability Science? ⇨ Why is sustainability science different from traditional academic disciplines? ⇨ Why is traditional academia incompatible with sustainability science? ⇨ How should we be teaching, learning and conducting research in sustainability science?
What is Sustainability Science? ⇨ Is it an objective science which seeks to maintain the scale of human society within physically defined carrying capacity of planet? ⇨ Interdisciplinary endeavor: ecology, biology, physics, chemistry, etc. plus policy sciences ⇨ Or is the goal to ensure that costs of human encroachment on the sustaining ecosystem do not outweigh the benefits for this or future generations? ⇨ Transdisciplinary endeavor: ethics, philosophy, psychology, economics, cultural values, etc.
Why is sustainability science different from traditional academic disciplines?
Requires system thinking ⇨ Inherent complexity ⇨ How do the pieces interact? ⇨ Study of a rapidly evolving system ⇨ What are the feedback loops driving system evolution?
Post normal science Uncertainty and ignorance Values matter Decisions are urgent Stakes are high
Transdisciplinary ⇨ In the university there are disciplines, in the real world there are problems ⇨ Communication and understanding across disciplines is essential ⇨ Communication with sectors outside of academia is essential
Why is traditional academia incompatible with sustainability science?
Academic Autism ⇨ What is Autism? A disorder characterize by: ⇨ abnormal subjectivity ⇨ marked deficits in communication and social interaction ⇨ marked withdrawal from reality ⇨ abnormal behavior, such as… excessive attachment to certain objects
Disciplinarity ⇨ Useful for analysis ⇨ A blinder for synthesis, system thinking ⇨ Hinders communication ⇨ Leads to incomplete view of reality ⇨ Methodology determines problems ⇨ Methodologies drive the discipline.
Objective truth seeking vs. action oriented research ⇨ Traditional role is neutral scientist, unbiased objective research ⇨ Sustainability science demands solutions now. We need to do research that matters and we need to communicate and apply its results.
Sustainability Science and Professional Advancement ⇨ Publication in peer reviewed journals ⇨ NSF report on transdisciplinarity recommends that junior faculty do not engage in transdisciplinary research ⇨ Collaboration across disciplines not rewarded
Sustainability Science and Funding ⇨ Collaboration across schools and departments complicated and discouraged ⇨ NSF and others are encouraging interdisciplinary research ⇨ Biocomplexity ⇨ IGERT ⇨ Others ⇨ Lack of qualified peer reviewers ⇨ Still relatively small community of interdisciplinary researchers, considerable collaborative work
How should we be teaching, learning and conducting research in sustainability science?
Problem Based Learning New science: we are all studentsNew science: we are all students We need to train problem solversWe need to train problem solvers Gives students the opportunity to empirically test theories as we learn themGives students the opportunity to empirically test theories as we learn them Too difficult to learn transdisciplinary thinking in the abstractToo difficult to learn transdisciplinary thinking in the abstract Values matter, Stakeholders need to play a roleValues matter, Stakeholders need to play a role
NGOs, Community groups, government departments 'Community' context dependent Community sponsors as a link to stakeholders
⇨ Integrate stakeholder into every aspect of the problem ⇨ Framing the problem ⇨ Local knowledge ⇨ Stakeholder values ⇨ Also need to work with unbiased ‘stakeholders’, those who care about the problem but are not directly affected Role of stakeholders
Focus on Synthesis… ⇨ Communication across disciplines ⇨ Integrative Methodologies ⇨ Systems thinking and modeling ⇨ Multi-criteria Analysis ⇨ Mediated modeling ⇨ Policy implications
… and Communication ⇨ Communicate to those who act on information ⇨ Format appropriate to goal ⇨ Proposal for environmental protected area submitted to municipal government ⇨ Brochure on benefits of riparian reforestation distributed to reforestation groups and farmers ⇨ Editorials ⇨ Reports to government agencies ⇨ Press conferences ⇨ Government briefings ⇨ Academic articles
Peer review ⇨ Extended peer review ⇨ Relax criterion for collaborator review while pool of qualified reviewers builds
Summary ⇨ Sustainability science confronts new problems, demands new approaches from academia ⇨ Move away from study of disciplines and towards study of problems ⇨ Values matter: we need to integrate “non- expert” opinion ⇨ Sustainability science needs to be action- oriented ⇨ Moving in the right direction, but a long ways to go