Interdisciplinarity as conversation

This blog is premised on the need for an interdisciplinary approach to the Anthropocene—indeed, to the general question of human beings’ relationship with their environment. And it aspires to embody a certain conception of interdisciplinarity—one which uses conversation as a model for the interaction among people from diverse intellectual backgrounds.

Bondre postI recently had the opportunity to articulate this conception on the Future Earth blog. I responded to a post by Ninad Bondre (click the screen shot to read), who was in turn responding to a post by Erle Ellis. Ellis’ post was a kind of precis of his article “Ecology in an Anthropogenic Biosphere,” which we wrote about here last spring. In his piece Ellis brings together natural and social science; Bondre commented on the relationship between those two broad fields, arguing that natural scientists ought to take work from the social sciences and humanities on board more thoroughly than he holds they do. He uses the image of a bridge between the former and latter sides that needs to be two way. In a brief response Ellis invokes the image of the blind men and the elephant to suggest that researchers from different fields need to supplement their partial perspectives to understand complex phenomena such as the Anthropocene.

In my post I develop my “conversational conception,” suggesting that some of the features that make for good conversations likewise contribute to the success of interdisciplinary collaboration. I end by citing our experience with the Anthropocene Biosphere Project here on this blog. Please click the screen shot below to get to the post.

my post

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