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The Grand Concepts of Environmental Studies Boundary objects between disciplines and policymakers

Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift
Författare Jakob Lundgren
Publicerad i Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences
ISSN 21906483
Publiceringsår 2020
Publicerad vid Institutionen för filosofi, lingvistik och vetenskapsteori
Språk en
Ämnesord Boundary objects, Ecosystem services, Interdisciplinarity, Resilience, Transdisciplinarity
Ämneskategorier Vetenskapsteori

Sammanfattning

© 2020, The Author(s). Inter- and transdisciplinary collaboration is necessary in order to take on the environmental challenges facing humanity. Different disciplines, stakeholders, and policymakers need to work together to produce the knowledge necessary to create effective and just courses of action to counteract environmental problems. Recently, the notion of ‘boundary objects’ has been increasingly used within environmental studies to explain how some objects facilitate communication across the boundaries between different groups of actors. Due to their vague use in common contexts and specific use in each group, these objects let groups retain their own understanding while still communicating successfully with others. Novel concepts like ‘resilience’, ‘ecosystem services’, and ‘sustainability’ are due to their interpretive flexibility commonly described as boundary objects. However, in order to implement these concepts in concrete policy, some amount of standardization is needed. This presents a tension with the vagueness required for the facilitation of communication. This paper explicates whether and how novel concepts in environmental studies can be usefully understood as boundary objects. I review how boundary objects have been applied in the literature surrounding inter- and transdisciplinary collaborations, focusing especially on instances where concepts were considered to be boundary objects. I suggest that novel concepts in environmental studies can be understood as both ‘grand concepts’ in their most widespread use and as ‘hubs and spokes’ in local contexts. This allows for both vagueness at the macro level and standardization at the local level. I also explore how models, frameworks, and data have been successfully used as boundary objects.

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