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Stepping stone or stumbling block? : Mode 2 knowledge production in sustainability science

Thorén, Henrik LU and Breian, Line (2015) In Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Abstract
The concept of Mode 2 was developed in order to further our understanding of processes of knowledge production taking place between and beyond disciplinary structures (inter- and transdisciplinary processes) and “in a context of application”. The concept has often been seen as especially applicable to fields addressing grand challenges, such as cli- mate change, poverty eradication, and global health. Being a relatively new field—interdisciplinary in its approach, and focused on addressing such issues—sustainability science would appear to be a case in point. The aim of this paper is twofold: 1) to explore the perceived relation be- tween Mode 2 and sustainability science, and 2) to advance the discussion of Mode 2 from a philosophical... (More)
The concept of Mode 2 was developed in order to further our understanding of processes of knowledge production taking place between and beyond disciplinary structures (inter- and transdisciplinary processes) and “in a context of application”. The concept has often been seen as especially applicable to fields addressing grand challenges, such as cli- mate change, poverty eradication, and global health. Being a relatively new field—interdisciplinary in its approach, and focused on addressing such issues—sustainability science would appear to be a case in point. The aim of this paper is twofold: 1) to explore the perceived relation be- tween Mode 2 and sustainability science, and 2) to advance the discussion of Mode 2 from a philosophical perspective. To address these questions we focus on three characteristic features of Mode 2: the notion of a distinct, but evolving framework; boundary crossing; and a problem solving capacity “on the move”. In particular we discuss the descrip- tive and normative implications of Mode 2 and different understandings of the Mode 2 framework. We report the results of a survey carried out amongst leading sustainability scientists in which they answered questions on Mode 2 and sustainability science. The survey gives insight into both their perception of Mode 2 and their perception of their own field of sustainability science, as well as on the relation between the two. In our analysis, we emphasize the free text answers. These reveal a tension within the field of sustainability science; with developments both to- wards Mode 1 and Mode 2 science as well as towards a more unificationist interpretation. To further complicate the picture, there would also seem to be a tension in the interpretations of Mode 2, and we conclude that the implementation of inter- and transdisciplinarity is challenged by institutional and conceptual factors alike. Even though it is not impossible to achieve; inter- and transdisciplinarity seem to represent a great challenge in itself and the answer as to whether or not inter- and transdisciplinarity is the (sole) solution to the grand challenges of today is likely to be more complex than is generally acknowledged. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
sustainability science, Mode 2 knowledge production, transdisciplinarity
in
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
publisher
Elsevier
external identifiers
  • pmid:26686900
  • scopus:84949664066
ISSN
1369-8486
DOI
10.1016/j.shpsc.2015.11.002
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
2deaf38f-ddfe-4828-b34b-c3cf3086edad (old id 5047254)
date added to LUP
2015-02-11 11:50:41
date last changed
2017-06-11 03:12:03
@article{2deaf38f-ddfe-4828-b34b-c3cf3086edad,
  abstract     = {The concept of Mode 2 was developed in order to further our understanding of processes of knowledge production taking place between and beyond disciplinary structures (inter- and transdisciplinary processes) and “in a context of application”. The concept has often been seen as especially applicable to fields addressing grand challenges, such as cli- mate change, poverty eradication, and global health. Being a relatively new field—interdisciplinary in its approach, and focused on addressing such issues—sustainability science would appear to be a case in point. The aim of this paper is twofold: 1) to explore the perceived relation be- tween Mode 2 and sustainability science, and 2) to advance the discussion of Mode 2 from a philosophical perspective. To address these questions we focus on three characteristic features of Mode 2: the notion of a distinct, but evolving framework; boundary crossing; and a problem solving capacity “on the move”. In particular we discuss the descrip- tive and normative implications of Mode 2 and different understandings of the Mode 2 framework. We report the results of a survey carried out amongst leading sustainability scientists in which they answered questions on Mode 2 and sustainability science. The survey gives insight into both their perception of Mode 2 and their perception of their own field of sustainability science, as well as on the relation between the two. In our analysis, we emphasize the free text answers. These reveal a tension within the field of sustainability science; with developments both to- wards Mode 1 and Mode 2 science as well as towards a more unificationist interpretation. To further complicate the picture, there would also seem to be a tension in the interpretations of Mode 2, and we conclude that the implementation of inter- and transdisciplinarity is challenged by institutional and conceptual factors alike. Even though it is not impossible to achieve; inter- and transdisciplinarity seem to represent a great challenge in itself and the answer as to whether or not inter- and transdisciplinarity is the (sole) solution to the grand challenges of today is likely to be more complex than is generally acknowledged.},
  author       = {Thorén, Henrik and Breian, Line},
  issn         = {1369-8486},
  keyword      = {sustainability science,Mode 2 knowledge production,transdisciplinarity},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {12},
  publisher    = {Elsevier},
  series       = {Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences},
  title        = {Stepping stone or stumbling block? : Mode 2 knowledge production in sustainability science},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.shpsc.2015.11.002},
  year         = {2015},
}