Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies: A Primer / Edition 1

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Environmental issues are inherently interdisciplinary, and environmental academic programs increasingly use an interdisciplinary approach.

This timely book presents a core framework for conducting high quality interdisciplinary research. It focuses on the opportunities rather than the challenges of interdisciplinary work and is written for those doing interdisciplinary work (rather than those studying it). It is designed to facilitate high quality interdisciplinary work and the author uses illustrative examples from student work and papers published in the environmental literature.

This book's lucid, problem-solving approach is framed in an accessible easily-to-read style and will be indispensable for anyone embarking on a research project involving interdisciplinary collaboration.

Readership: graduate students, advanced undergraduates, and researchers involved in the interface between human and natural environmental systems

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Although it does not reveal a prescriptive path for interdisciplinary work, for our group, this volume served as a valuable catalyst for thinking about interdisciplinary research. We look forward to future conversations that build on Öberg’s examples of how to navigate problem-oriented, interdisciplinary research.”  (The Quarterly Review of Biology, 1 September 2012)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781444336863
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 12/21/2010
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 184
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Gunilla Öberg, Professor and Director of the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia, is a scholar recognized for her groundbreaking research on chlorine biogeochemistry, her work on interdisciplinary research and higher education, as well as for her leadership of interdisciplinary environmental programs.

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Table of Contents



Chapter 1: Introduction

Challenges and opportunities

On quality


A note on terminology


Chapter 2: Beyond CP Snow

Quantitative and qualitative studies

Improved understanding and quality

Drawing on commonalities

Context dependence and quantification

Interpretation and context


Chapter 3: Questioning to learn and learning to question

Part I: Interdisciplinary expectations (Questions 1 to 3)

Part II: Transacademic aspirations (Questions 4 and 5)

Part III: Academic rigour (Questions 6 to 10)


Chapter 4: Why do you conduct interdisciplinary work?

Where do you position yourself on the reflection scale?

(Question 1)

To what end are you using knowledge from different disciplines?

(Question 2)

What makes your work interdisciplinary? (Question 3)


Chapter 5: Why do you interact with society?

Academic knowledge and decision-making

Who participates in which part of the study and how?

(Question 4)

Why do you interact with society? (Question 5)

A word of warning: Don’t be snobbish


Chapter 6: Rigorous but not rigid

On quality assessment

Confusing form and credibility – an example



Chapter 7: Marking your playground



Operationalizing the aim

Confusing interdisciplinarity with “Everything”


Chapter 8: Evidence that holds for scrutiny

How or why?

Common procedures

Mixing various types of empirical evidence


Chapter 9: Anchoring your canoe

Clarifying your sources

Anchoring your frame

Anchoring your method


Chapter 10: Analysis

Defining “analysis”

Clarifying the own, the new

Relevant literature – your canon

Common knowledge

Original research


The style of recognized scholars

Passive and active voice


Chapter 11: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder


Where do I place the reflections?

Where do I describe the context?



Chapter 12: Being interdisciplinary

Creating an open and respectful climate

Hierarchies that impair

Humbleness and courage

Outstanding studies

Dialogue, feedback and how to manage supervisors



Primary sources

Secondary sources


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