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A critical realist inquiry in conducting interdisciplinary research : An analysis of LUCID examples

Nastar, Maryam LU ; Boda, Chad LU and Olsson, Lennart LU (2018) In Ecology and Society 23(3).
Abstract
The scale and complexity of contemporary sustainability challenges necessitates interdisciplinarity in research and pluralism in practice. In recent year, however, a strong natural science hegemony has predominantly framed our understanding of the dynamics of nature and society. This strong hegemonic conceptualization of global predicaments is troublesome given both the drivers of sustainability challenges and the agents with the capacity to address them are social and require insights from the social sciences. In this article, we analyze the process and outcomes of one of the pioneers in the world to provide a platform for advancing sustainability science and interdisciplinary research with a heavy emphasis on social science; namely, the... (More)
The scale and complexity of contemporary sustainability challenges necessitates interdisciplinarity in research and pluralism in practice. In recent year, however, a strong natural science hegemony has predominantly framed our understanding of the dynamics of nature and society. This strong hegemonic conceptualization of global predicaments is troublesome given both the drivers of sustainability challenges and the agents with the capacity to address them are social and require insights from the social sciences. In this article, we analyze the process and outcomes of one of the pioneers in the world to provide a platform for advancing sustainability science and interdisciplinary research with a heavy emphasis on social science; namely, the Lund University Centre of Excellence for Integration of the Social and Natural Dimensions of Sustainability (LUCID).
We, first, identify a consistent set of criteria for evaluating interdisciplinary research processes and outcomes. Second, we apply these criteria in an analysis of a selection of scholarly work produced at LUCID. Third, we evaluate the impacts of LUCID’s institutional settings on the process of interdisciplinary research. Finally, we assess to what degree the outcomes of LUCID research have managed to produce satisfactory explanations of concrete sustainability challenges.
Our analysis of the LUCID work suggests that the synthetic integrated knowledge required to analyze and address complex sustainability challenges is more likely to be produced if researchers employ retroductive logic and adhere to the principles of methodological pluralism. We stress in particular the importance of institutional settings in supporting such research, both in terms of finance and administration as well as in providing a conducive intellectual environment wherein authentic interdisciplinarity can emerge. Maintaining the kinds of horizontal and vertical integration characteristic of such conducive institutional settings, however, poses a major challenge in light of current trends, at least in Sweden, towards more compartmentalized, disciplinary university structures.
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
anti-reductionism, Critical Realism, interdisciplinary research centers, methodological pluralism, retroduction, sustainability science.
in
Ecology and Society
volume
23
issue
3
pages
14 pages
publisher
The Resilience Alliance
external identifiers
  • scopus:85056729393
ISSN
1708-3087
DOI
10.5751/ES-10218-230341
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
02f3c70f-0cf3-4bef-b674-2bf92e15ec52
date added to LUP
2018-08-06 12:17:30
date last changed
2019-02-20 11:23:47
@article{02f3c70f-0cf3-4bef-b674-2bf92e15ec52,
  abstract     = {The scale and complexity of contemporary sustainability challenges necessitates interdisciplinarity in research and pluralism in practice. In recent year, however, a strong natural science hegemony has predominantly framed our understanding of the dynamics of nature and society. This strong hegemonic conceptualization of global predicaments is troublesome given both the drivers of sustainability challenges and the agents with the capacity to address them are social and require insights from the social sciences. In this article, we analyze the process and outcomes of one of the pioneers in the world to provide a platform for advancing sustainability science and interdisciplinary research with a heavy emphasis on social science; namely, the Lund University Centre of Excellence for Integration of the Social and Natural Dimensions of Sustainability (LUCID). <br/>We, first, identify a consistent set of criteria for evaluating interdisciplinary research processes and outcomes. Second, we apply these criteria in an analysis of a selection of scholarly work produced at LUCID. Third, we evaluate the impacts of LUCID’s institutional settings on the process of interdisciplinary research. Finally, we assess to what degree the outcomes of LUCID research have managed to produce satisfactory explanations of concrete sustainability challenges.<br/>Our analysis of the LUCID work suggests that the synthetic integrated knowledge required to analyze and address complex sustainability challenges is more likely to be produced if researchers employ retroductive logic and adhere to the principles of methodological pluralism. We stress in particular the importance of institutional settings in supporting such research, both in terms of finance and administration as well as in providing a conducive intellectual environment wherein authentic interdisciplinarity can emerge. Maintaining the kinds of horizontal and vertical integration characteristic of such conducive institutional settings, however, poses a major challenge in light of current trends, at least in Sweden, towards more compartmentalized, disciplinary university structures.<br/>},
  articleno    = {41},
  author       = {Nastar, Maryam and Boda, Chad and Olsson, Lennart},
  issn         = {1708-3087},
  keyword      = {anti-reductionism,Critical Realism,interdisciplinary research centers,methodological pluralism,retroduction,sustainability science.},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {3},
  pages        = {14},
  publisher    = {The Resilience Alliance},
  series       = {Ecology and Society},
  title        = {A critical realist inquiry in conducting interdisciplinary research :  An analysis of LUCID examples},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-10218-230341},
  volume       = {23},
  year         = {2018},
}