Interdisciplinarity in environmental research: Insights from 25 years of crossing boundaries
Sharachchandra Lele (Senior Fellow and Convenor, Centre for Environment & Development, ATREE)
Abstract: Everyone seems to agree that solving environmental problems requires bridging the 'big divide', i.e., the coming together of the natural/physical sciences with the social sciences and humanities. But this is easier said than done. Crossing these boundaries is tricky, there is more than one boundary to cross, a lot to unlearn, and it comes at a professional cost. But such boundary crossing has a valuable contribution to make both to individual disciplines as well as to the interdisciplinary space between science and policy. Drawing upon my journey from engineering to ecology to economics to a more political economic ecology, and upon other examples in the environmental literature, I offer a four-dimensinal framework of values, theory, methods and institutions through which one can understand the barriers to and potential contribution of interdisciplinarity in environmental research.