Unity of Knowledge in Transdisciplinary Research for Sustainable Development theme is a component of Encyclopedia of Social Sciences and Humanities in the global Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS), which is an integrated compendium of twenty one Encyclopedias.
Today, there is a social need for a comprehensive unity of knowledge that would provide orientation and ensure action in the context of the complex problems of modern civilization. Based on an intellectual need for unity of knowledge, different concepts of unity of knowledge have emerged in the course of the history of ideas. The intellectual need for unity can be directed at the world, science, action or the individual. It can involve the quest for the unity of the world based on a principle that is immanent in it, the unity of science as a theoretical, methodical or epistemological unity, the unity of action as a correlation of scientific, pragmatic and moral knowledge or, finally, unity as the educational task of the individual. The concepts associated with unity of knowledge can go in two directions. The first assumes that there is a unity existing in the world that can be perceived by man. It is thought of as an order of being, i.e. an ontological unity of the plurality of phenomena, that consist in their common nature. The other direction is based on the assumption that unity is a construction of a subject, based on its cognitive principles and structures. Thus it is not something that can be discovered as an existing objective order, and is instead subjective.
These two volumes present some aspects of Unity of Knowledge in Transdisciplinary Research for Sustainable Development in three parts. The purpose of the first part is to trace back the core ideas in transdisciplinary thinking in the history of western philosophy and science, to locate socially the concerns of transdisciplinary research and to give an account of the development of transdisciplinary research. The second group of chapters deals with methodological and management problems related to transdisciplinary research with regard to problem identification and structuring of research questions, with knowledge integration in problem investigation as well as with evaluation. An outline of the institutional measures and transformations to enable and support transdisciplinary research is given in the third part. Institutional strategies build on organizational arrangements and links across academic institutions in education and research, on networks between science and society for joint knowledge production in temporally limited settings of research programs or projects, but they also set up new institutions, such as centers for advanced studies, national offices, agencies and networks.
These two volumes are aimed at a wide spectrum of audiences: University and College Students, Educators, Research Personnel and all those concerned with sustainable development.
Gertrude Hirsch Hadorn, born in 1953, is Professor at the Department of Environmental Sciences of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Switzerland and Private-docent in philosophy at the University of Konstanz, Germany. She got a Ph.D. in educational sciences at the University of Zurich in 1989 and replaced the chair in ethics at the University of Göttingen, Germany in 2000. Her research interests actually include the philosophy of environmental sciences, concepts and methodology of transdisciplinary research and environmental ethics. Her publications include articles and a book on environmental ethics (Umwelt, Natur und Moral. Freiburg: Alber 2000) and various articles on philosophy of science and on transdisciplinary research