From climate change to GM foods, we are increasingly confronted with complex, interconnected social and environmental problems that span disciplines, kwledge bases and value systems. This book offers a transdisciplinary, open approach for those working towards resolving these 'wicked' problems and highlights the crucial role of this 'transdisciplinary imagination' in addressing the shift to sustainable futures. Tackling Wicked Problems provides readers with a framework and practical examples that will guide the design and conduct of their own open-ended enquiries. In this approach, academic disciplines are combined with personal, local and strategic understanding and researchers are required to recognise multiple kwledge cultures, accept the inevitability of uncertainty, and clarify their own and others' ethical positions. The authors then comment on fifteen practical examples of how researchers have engaged with the opportunities and challenges of conducting transdisciplinary inquiries. The book gives those who are grappling with complex problems invative methods of inquiry that will allow them to work collaboratively towards long-term solutions.
Valerie A. Brown AO, BSc MEd PhD is Director of the Local Sustainability Project, Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University; and Emeritus Professor of Environmental Health, University of Western Sydney. She has held national advisory positions in public health, environmental management and higher education, and presented innovative programs in these fields in the Asia-Pacific, Canada and Europe. Valerie is the author of over 200 research papers and 12 books on linking social and environmental issues and social change, the most recent being Towards whole-of-community engagement: a toolkit of strategies 2004 (with Heather Aslin); Sustainability and health: supporting global integrity in public health Earthscan 2005 (with J. Grootjans, J. Ritchie, M. Townsend and G.Verrinder); Social learning and environmental management Earthscan 2005 (with M.Keen and R. Dyball) and Leonardo's vision. A guide to collective thinking and action SENSE 2008 John A. Harris is a university academic, outdoors educator, and former Head of School of Environmental Science, University of Canberra. He has over 35 years experience in ecological and social research, post-graduate supervision and undergraduate teaching. John was a pioneer in the establishment of the professional field of natural resource management in Australia. His academic teaching and research appointments at CSIRO Plant Industry and various universities include the Australian National University, Colorado State University and the University of Hanoi as well as consultant ecologist to UN Man and the Biosphere Programme and the National Museum of Australia. Publications include Harris, J. and Deane, P. 2005 'The Ethics of Social Engagement: Learning to Live and Living to Learn' in Keen, M., Brown, V.A., and Dyball R. (eds) Social Learning in Environmental Management: Towards a Sustainable Future, Earthscan, London; and Harris, J.A. and Robottom, I. 1997 'Postgraduate Environmental Education Research: Meeting the needs of the community' in Australian Journal of Environmental Education, Volume 13, pp. 49-54. In 2006 Jacqueline Y. Russell completed a highly-regarded PhD thesis on transdisciplinary frameworks for thinking about and tackling complex human-environmental problems. She joined the Social Sciences Program of the Australian Bureau of Rural Sciences in 2007 where she was involved in several major collaborative investigations into the social dimensions of managing Australia's natural resources. In particular, she conducted research into rural people's perceptions of climate change and adaptation; the negotiation of conflict over water resources in a time of unprecedented drought; and the social impacts of the drought on Australia's rural communities. Jacqueline is currently a postdoctoral research fellow in the Research School of Social Sciences of the Australian National University. She is part of a leading transdisciplinary research team that is applying innovative approaches to engaging regional communities, local and state governments and a range of experts in deliberation about future climate change. She is co-author of a number of reports on her research and has presented papers on the findings at local, national and international conferences.
Jacqueline Y. Russell, John A. Harris, Valerie A. Brown