Creating a Global Knowledge Society: Lessons from History, Philosophy, and Sociology

Friday, February 17, 2012: 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
Room 116-117 (VCC West Building)
To address complex global problems, scientists must often work across disciplinary lines. Combining science from multiple fields is frequently crucial to the usefulness of particular scientific information. Yet how to do this well has always been a challenge for scientists, since science differentiated itself from other modes of inquiry in the 19th century and disciplines within science began to form. This symposium will take historical, philosophical, and sociological perspectives on past and current efforts to do interdisciplinary scientific work, focusing in particular on work geared towards achieving broader social goods. The symposium will discuss what can be gleaned from the study of both historical and contemporary efforts to address challenges that arise in interdisciplinary, public goal-oriented work, including how communication challenges when working across disciplines can be overcome and how the strengths of disciplines can be harnessed for more general public goals, despite disciplinary narrowness. The symposium will show that not all current challenges are new and cull lessons from earlier efforts for current practice, illuminating the functioning of scientific language in interdisciplinary efforts, the impact of organizational structure, and why interdisciplinary work is often the most effective way to do science for the public good.
Heather E. Douglas, University of Waterloo
Heather E. Douglas, University of Waterloo
Edward J. Hackett, Arizona State University
How Interdisciplinary Synthesis Happens in the 21st Century
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