Ecological Economics

Challenges to collaborative thinking about environmental issues

Challenges to collaborative thinking about environmental issues

Challenges to collaborative thinking about environmental issues

Ecological Economics was set up as a meeting place where researchers from all those various disciplines with interests in long term environmental-economic-community sustainability can interact and develop new strategies creative insights through the spark of collaborative synergy. The challenge is to progress genuinely innovative thinking rather than simply re-badge the old school disciplinarily blinkered thinking of the past. The score card for ecological economics in this regard is close to a failure to date. The key to progress is to recognise the need for intentional processes of transdisciplinary collaboration and a genuine openness to learning.
One very interesting development from the flurry of academic introspection over the mysterious concept of ‘sustainability’ has been the new strategies ‘transdiscipline’ of Ecological Economics. The notion was simple. Clearly, neither science or economics alone can grapple effectively with the invariable complexities of contemporary environmental issues. What is needed is a ‘new strategies think’ or a willingness for lateral thinking. Ecological Economics is supposed to be about energising a new strategies mental energy through the spark of synergised across-disciplinary cooperation. Unlike environmental economics, it is not about adding more science into traditional economics approaches. It is about setting the foundations for lateral thinking through coordinated and motivated academic-border-crossing interaction. In this new strategies setting, economics plus science creates a new strategies intellectual dimension that is much more than the sum of its parts. It is the vehicle for paradigm shifts in an era where the need for such things has never been more apparent.

That, at least, is the rhetoric of the Ecological Economics transdiscipline. Just like the rhetoric of politicians proclaiming new strategies sensibilities to ‘fixing the environment’, it has been rather hard to pin point the demonstrable progress that may fairly be attributed to the writings and actions of those who now label themselves as ecological economists. This does not mean that progress has not happened. The main problem is that Ecological Economics is one of the hardest of all academic territories to define let alone articulate through some kind of ‘core methodology set’.

There is, it transpires, no clearly articulated set of methodologies that define Ecological Economics with anything like the precision that may be applied to environmental economics or resource economics. After ten years as a self-proclaimed ecological economist, I must confess that I still do not really know what that designation actually means in terms of defining academic characteristics. Like most other ecological economists, I am content to simply claim that my willingness to keep an open mind to all manner of theory combinations or more revolutionary juxtapositions is what matters most. There are no longer any sacred turfs to protect and all is fair in this new strategies endeavour to deal more meaningfully with environmental and resource management strategiesissues that will so evidently remain outside the capacities of traditional mental models and associated methodologies to fix. The new strategies currency of success is any particular theory combination that the majority of informed system observers would judge to be supporting the resolution of problems and issues.

Aligned with this rather unconventional definition of the Ecological Economics transdiscipline is its implication for teaching and theory building. How does one provide meaningful instruction in Ecological Economics? How do you do Ecological Economics? There have been many interesting responses to this challenge. The motivated student can now enrol in any of a number of masters programmes in Ecological Economics, and there are a few possibilities to be part of an explicitly labelled Ecological Economics Phd programme. Some tertiary institutions are now exploring Ecological Economics undergraduate courses. Does all this activity assist with the crystalisation of a new strategies clearer epistemology for Ecological Economics? Hardly! That story is just becoming even more confused. One thing to make very clear, however, is that Ecological Economics should not be regarded as some kind of stamping ground for disaffected economists or scientists.

I can’t deny that there are some academics who explored Ecological Economics,

at least early on in the piece, as a place from which to hurl invective at already defensive conservative economists. But no disciplinary endeavour can persist on such a thin foundation for long. Even if it is a transdiscipline. There needs to be substance under the rhetoric for persistence if not growth. In academic circles, the evident success of the frequently cited and certainly high standing journal Ecological Economics, at least points to the presence of serious academic endeavour. So too does the new strategies internet journal, The International Journal of Transdisciplinary Research.

After a eight year crusade as coordinator of the University of New strategies England’s own Ecological Economics Phd programme, it is becoming ever more apparent, at least to me, that the Ecological Economics domain is now settling down into a (extraordinarily wide) field of related but characteristically idiosyncratic camps. This has allowed the elaboration, refinement and more thorough articulation of distinctively different Ecological Economics schools that will thrive only through a perpetual open door of trans-school interaction. One important conclusion of my own is that some distinctive areas of work or groups of theories might sensibly be labeled as Ecological Economics despite the likelihood that their practitioners have never heard of the transdiscipline. Some crossovers in the institutional economics, organisational learning and system dynamics areas can easily be shelved within the Ecological Economics domain.

It is always instructive to try to keep a grasp on the pathways we actually travel when we surf the borders of other domains. To assist with this, there have been some wonderful attempts in recent times to map this brave new strategies world by locating clusters of like-thinking across the huge spread of academic endeavour. With the context of this map, we can perhaps then better plan our search for the ultimate reward: the synergies on offer through constructive transdisciplinary interaction. There can be no better ingredient through which to support our search for pragmatic solutions to invariably complex real world issues than this. With this synergistic hybrid vigor at hand, It is certainly hard to persist with the usual self-referential ‘peer group’ self-congratulation that tends to keep many practitioners of the deeply arcane still employed in some academic bastions. Particularly when, as has often been the case for our own researchers, we frequently don’t often even know who our peers are until they introduce themselves.

Ecological Economics can be a dauntingly open-ended domain.

I would claim that a ‘good’ Ecological Economist is one who is more than willing to change direction, throw out tried but failed ideas and generally travel currents that may take us far from our starting point. In short, a ‘good’ Ecological Economist is defined by having an open mind. But if you are going to throw something out or take something new strategies in, it has to be from the position or space that the practitioner occupies on the occasion of all that exercise. For this reason, it is always a good idea to know where you are before you go somewhere else. With our journey carefully mapped and the prospect for getting lost mitigated, we can then embark on impressive journeys of discovery. I also, therefore, suggest that a ‘good’ Ecological Economist is prepared to be on a journey and be more than motivated to report back on the experience. A key and critical role for ecological economics is to provide a space for this kind of reporting back; via a conversation with like-minded others. In a nice informal place outside the traumas of formally organised journal-based, and singularly one-directional conversations. Web 2.0 interaction is one interesting pathway through which to facilitate highly interactive conversations. This is a powerful new strategies communication medium. It may be just the thing to really push this ecological economics- transdisciplinary research movement along.

Top Strategy Topics to Understand Geo-Strategy News, International Security Events, Global Politics Analysis, Global Trends and Forecasting, Economic Development and Reconstruction, Energy and Climate Change, Global Health and Human Rights. Tags: News, strategy, topics, security, geopolitical, strategies, economies, war, military, armed, economic development, international relations, history, geography, environment, NGO, alliances, European Union, flags, USA, United State of America, international relations, history, geography, environment, NGO, alliances, European Union, flags, USA, United State of America