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BRIDGING THE INTERDISCIPLINARY DIVIDE: NATURAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCES Dr John ZILLMAN Australian National Commission for UNESCO President, International Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences (CAETS), Australia.

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Bridging the interdisciplinary divide natural and social sciences

BRIDGING THE INTERDISCIPLINARY DIVIDE:NATURAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCESDr John ZILLMAN Australian National Commission for UNESCOPresident, International Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences (CAETS), Australia

Harnessing science for society: further partnershipsInternational UNESCO/ICSU/TWAS Symposium on the follow up to the World Conference on Science

2–5 March 2005. Palazzo Zorzi, Venice (Italy)


Bridging the interdisciplinary divide natural and social sciences

BRIDGING THE INTERDISCIPLINARY DIVIDE:NATURAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCES

  • Some background

  • The WCS on interdisciplinarity

  • The separate development of the natural and social sciences

  • Chaos, complexity and the hidden connections

  • Science in policy-making

  • The role of UNESCO

  • An international case study

  • A national experiment

  • Conclusions


The social sciences

THE SOCIAL SCIENCES

A group of studies concerned with man in relation to his cultural, social and physical environment; one of three main divisions of human knowledge, the other two being the natural sciences and the humanities. Although the social scientists usually attempt to model their disciplines on the natural sciences, aspiring to achieve a similar level of consensus, their efforts in this direction continue to be frustrated by the crudeness of their conceptual tools in relation to the complexity of their subject matter and the limited scope afforded for controlled experiments. The social sciences are usually considered to include: anthropology, archaeology, criminology, demography, economics, education, political science, psychology and sociology.


The wcs on interdisciplinarity the declaration

THE WCS ON INTERDISCIPLINARITYTHE DECLARATION

Para 4

‘Greater interdisciplinary efforts, involving both natural and social sciences, are a prerequisite for dealing with ethical, social, cultural, environmental, gender, economic and health issues’;

Considering: (para 17)

‘The role played by the social sciences in the analysis of social transformations related to scientific and technological developments and the search for solutions to the problems generated in the process’

Proclaims: (para 36)

‘New initiatives are required for interdisciplinary collaboration’.


The wcs on interdisciplinarity the framework for action

THE WCS ON INTERDISCIPLINARITYTHE FRAMEWORK FOR ACTION

  • Role of fundamental research

    ‘Communication skills and exposure to social sciences should also be a part of education of scientists’. (para 10)

  • Science, environment and sustainable development

    ‘Interdisciplinary research involving both the natural and social sciences must be vigorously enhanced by all the major actors concerned, including the private sector, to address the human dimension of global environmental change, including health impacts, and to improve understanding of sustainability as conditioned by natural systems’. (para 31)

  • Science in society and science for society

    ‘All countries should encourage and support social science research to better understand and manage the tensions characterising the relations between science and technology on the one hand, and the different societies and their institutions on the other hand. Transfer of technology should be accompanied by analysis of its possible impacts on populations and society.’ (para 68)


The separate development of the natural and social science

THE SEPARATE DEVELOPMENT OF THE NATURAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCE

  • Natural sciences

    - Bacon (induction) – ‘the scientific method’

    - Descartes (deduction)

    - Popper (falsification)

    - Bush (endless frontier)

    - Kuhn (scientific paradigms)

  • Social sciences

    - Social organisation different from natural world

    - Mind rather than matter

    - But tried to follow the scientific method

    - Chaos and complexity


Chaos complexity and the hidden connections

CHAOS, COMPLEXITY AND THE HIDDEN CONNECTIONS

  • Non-linear dynamics and complexity science

  • The Capra perspective on the nature of living things

  • The Capra perspective on understanding social phenomena


Uncertainty and complexity

UNCERTAINTY AND COMPLEXITY


Science in policy making

SCIENCE IN POLICY MAKING


The role of unesco

THE ROLE OF UNESCO

  • Natural sciences

    - International Hydrological Program (IHP)

    - International Geoscience Program (ICP)

    - Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC)

    - Man and the Biosphere (MAB)

    - etc

  • Social and Human sciences

    - Management of Social Transformations (MOST)

    - etc

  • Interdisciplinary collaboration

    - water

    - energy

    - ethics

    - tsunami

    - etc


An international case study the ipcc

AN INTERNATIONAL CASE STUDYTHE IPCC

  • Climate change as an interdisciplinary issue

  • WMO-UNEP establishment of the IPCC

  • The operation of the IPCC – scientists and policy makers

  • Cross-representation in IPCC and COP delegations

  • The IPCC Synthesis Report

  • Too wide to bridge – IPCC emission scenarios


A national case study national academies forum

A NATIONAL CASE STUDYNATIONAL ACADEMIES FORUM

  • Australia’s Learned Academies

    - The Australian Academy of Science (AAS)

    - The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE)

    - The Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA), and

    - The Australian Academy of the Humanities (AAH)

  • FASTS and CHASS

    - Federation of Australian Scientific and Technical Societies

    - Council of the Humanities and Social Sciences

  • Representation on PMSEIC

  • The working of NAF

  • Some successes (climate change, water, sustainability, disasters)

  • An experiment – After the Tsunami


Conclusions what s needed now

CONCLUSIONS WHAT’S NEEDED NOW

  • Continuing support for research into a more integrated and holistic framework for the natural and social sciences including especially exploring the scope of complexity science to provide a ‘theory of everything’

  • Much wider and more deliberate use of interdisciplinary teams by governments and businesses in addressing such major issues as economic and ecological sustainability, health, energy, natural resource utilisation and the introduction of new technologies

  • More focussed efforts in interdisciplinary education in schools and universities through joint teaching appointments, cross disciplinary courses and the like aimed especially at generating the capability for multidisciplinary input to policy formulation

  • Greater use of ‘horizontal management’ across the discipline-based silos that traditionally characterise both governmental and non-governmental research agencies, and

  • Fostering preparation and analysis of case studies of successful bridging between the natural and social sciences at both the national and international level.


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