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Working Together Across Disciplines - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Working Together Across Disciplines

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    1. Challenges for the Natural and Social Sciences David Chandler and Wyn Grant Working Together Across Disciplines

    2. Main projects Environmental and regulatory sustainability of biopesticides RELU 1, 350k (PAIS + HRI) Governance of livestock diseases RELU 3, 1m + (PAIS, Economics, Law, Biological Sciences) Environmental footprint of horticulture Defra, 100,000 REBECA policy action European Commission

    3. Interdisciplinarity trend RELU programme Appointment to BBSRC panel Willingness of BBSRC to fund social scientists Establishment of International Science Policy Centre by Royal Society Collaboration with biological scientists achievable superstring theory!

    4. Why collaboration is needed Many global problems can only be addressed by such collaboration: climate change, GM technology, stem cell therapy Emphasis on evidence-based policy-making. More public scrutiny of natural science. 16700 Students Includes visiting and exchange students (heads) and HEFP students in local colleges. Excludes students taught overseas and on external programmes. 3800 Staff 3000 full and part time, 800 casua, 96% non-academic staff live in Coventry. 3rd largest employer in Coventry area 174.5 m turnover For year ended July 2001, projected to rise to 222 m by 2004/05 Arts Centre 250,000 visits each year, 70% of audience from Coventry/Warwickshire, 67% self-generated income. 580,000 University subsidy to Arts Centre each year (not all grant) 16700 Students Includes visiting and exchange students (heads) and HEFP students in local colleges. Excludes students taught overseas and on external programmes. 3800 Staff 3000 full and part time, 800 casua, 96% non-academic staff live in Coventry. 3rd largest employer in Coventry area 174.5 m turnover For year ended July 2001, projected to rise to 222 m by 2004/05 Arts Centre 250,000 visits each year, 70% of audience from Coventry/Warwickshire, 67% self-generated income. 580,000 University subsidy to Arts Centre each year (not all grant)

    6. The challenge for social & natural scientists To develop a common language & effective methodological framework. A key aim of the RELU programme & our project on biopesticides in particular.

    7. The obstacles Endogenous features of disciplines e.g. stick to what you know, perceived theoretical incompatibilities. Lack of a common framework within which to conduct research. Structural features of universities and RAE. Training and professional regulation.

    8. Political science and biology: the possibilities of partnership UK political science defined by eclecticism: junction subject Political science has drawn on social biology (W J M Mackenize). Punctuated equilibrium models draw on evolutionary biology. (Baumgartner & Jones)

    9. The opportunities of partnership Political scientists interested in interactions between entities & setting. Political science & biology have an interest in adaptation to environment. Heightened importance of environment & life science issues creates new opportunities for collaboration.

    10. Warwick: the learning curve Biologists thought that political scientists may be identified with a particular political position. Political scientists had little awareness of molecular or systems biology. Use theories to drive and test hypotheses in similar ways.

    11. The practical solution Reading literature from the other discipline and presenting it to team meetings. Allowed understanding of methodologies and vocabularies. Political scientists write more discursively.

    12. Political & biological sciences: Some similar challenges Debate in biological science about what constitutes a species lumpers and splitters Similar taxonomic dilemmas in study of politics. Unit of analysis issues relate to risks of committing individual or ecological fallacies. Scaling up problem in biology.

    13. Some similarities & differences Both disciplines use comparison Controlled experiments norm in biology, role of model species. Human behaviour more diverse: no model plant (Arabidopis thlania) use the concept of the median voter but not identify one (the search for Worcester woman).

    14. What each discipline gains Political science can help with translating natural science evidence into policies. Can help natural scientists to appreciate constraints faced by decision-makers. Political scientists need scientific advice to participate effectively in highly technical regulatory debate.

    15. What each discipline gains (2) Knowledge of scientists about decision-making & policy networks could be placed in a more systematic framework Political science helped biologists to be more deductive and theoretically guided. A very positive experience thanks to the project team.