On inter- or transdisciplinarity: inherent handicaps and some solutions?

J.A. Klijn

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


We live in the aftermath of extreme specialization in scientific branches and witness the revival of integration. Also, our image and credentials in society have sometimes dropped, whether we like it or not. The main reason is that society has to cope with complex problems and does not accept partial, e.g. technocratic, solutions from specialists for problems that require a broader scope, a more balanced decision-making process rooted in the desire to create sustainable solutions. Together with the division of science in disciplines and sub-disciplines the organization of visions on reality (in paradigms), research activities (programs) and researchers (in disciplinary communities) seem to have become conservative in its own. Centripetal forces dominate. Reasons are bureaucratic sluggishness and territorial behaviour, the prestige of specialists among colleagues and in the public opinion, psychological characteristics of researchers and the amount of time, money, energy needed for interdisciplinary ventures. Last but not least: integration is less easy than sometimes thought. It requires more abilities than analytical brightness and relies heavily on other skills and knowledge. New theories, concepts and methods are required. Some elaboration is given below, as well as suggestions to overcome or minimize some of the handicaps
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInterdisciplinary and transdisciplinary landscape studies: potential and limitations
EditorsB. Tress, G. Tress, A.J.J. van der Valk, G. Fry
Place of PublicationWageningen
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Publication series

NameDelta series


  • interdisciplinary research
  • landscape
  • rural environment
  • netherlands


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