University of Earth
Projects Overview (Explanations)
Integrative Knowledge Project (Explanations)

Integrative Knowledge and Transdisciplinarity Project

Overview: Integrative Knowledge Project


Projects: Problems | Strategies | Values | Integrative concepts | Human development | Transformative approaches | Metaphors

Scope and rationale
Background
Organization and structure
Information content
Method and development

Explanatory comments
Context

Reservations and disclaimer
Statistics
Media used & multi-media


Scope and rationale

The fragmentation of society is frequently deplored, as is the fragmentation of knowledge supposedly relevant to any appropriate response to the global problematique.

There continue to be calls for integrative, interdisciplinary or unified conceptual approaches to remedy this situation. Attempts to develop such approaches have themselves become fragmented, such that certain integrative insights are considered irrelevant, superficial, or misleading by those advancing other such insights.

Background

There is no ongoing research into interdisciplinarity in its own right and the literature on it is dispersed under many unrelated headings (which library information systems make no attempt to cross-reference). And yet words like "global", "transdisciplinary", "networking" and "system" continue to emerge as the magical "words of power" triggering favourable response to project proposals addressing the global problematique. A minimum requirement at this time is therefore an indication of the range of integrative concepts from which some indication of their unique contributions can be deduced.

Some entries were formulated by the editors as part of a review of methodological problems which emerged during their participation in the Goals, Processes and Indicators of Development project of the United Nations University (1978-82).

Organization and structure

The project as a whole attempts to respond to the dramatic problem of how to interrelate vital conceptual insights which are essentially incommensurable and in practice often mutually antagonistic.

Information content

Method and development

The information used was obtained from a wide range of specialized reference books as discussed in the commentary.

Development: In addition to the refinement of the existing entries and to the extension of the range (eg to include artificial intelligence concepts), the paradoxical problem of classifying interdisciplinary concepts could also be explored.

Explanatory comments

Detailed explanations and general comments are provided in a collection of 11 documents. In contrast to entries in other sections, comments are incorporated into individual entries.

Research studies on integrative knowledge, written in relation to this project and to international organizations, are directly accessible from separate checklists:

As noted above, the information on integrative knowledge, is seen as one of the keys to the global organization of knowledge about organizations, strategies, or problems.

Note that more general comments and explanations, regarding the collection of projects initiated within the framework of the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential, are available in a collection of 27 documents.

Context

The contents presented by this project may be considered as complementing the other projects in ways such as the following:

Reservations and disclaimer

Because of the essentially integrative nature of the concepts, the distinction between an integrative and an unintegrative concept is unclear. It could be said that every concept is unclear. At one extreme, every concept may be considered as integrative; at the other, particular schools of thought would accept only a very limited number of their central concepts as integrative. Many of these concepts call for lengthy comment which is not possible in this framework; in such cases only highly abridged entries have been included.

Unlike entries in most other sections, those included here reflect an editorial attempt to review the efforts of a wide range of authors to respond, in one way or another, to the conceptual problems of discontinuity. The editors have attempted to interrelate these initiatives and to indicate how they collectively contribute to an understanding of alternation, and that in fact the central theme they together identify can itself only be comprehended by alternating between the essentially incommensurable perspectives they represent. The implications of their insights have been deliberately oriented toward comprehension of the global problematique which may be very far from the intention of the authors.

Whilst this procedure may have resulted in distortion of their views, the editors do consider that presenting such unrelated views as a configuration offering complementary perspectives does go some way to avoiding the problems of entrapment in a particular language. The stress on ordered patterns of "alternation" is of course another form of entrapment. At this stage however it does seem to cast new light on the problem of embodying discontinuity in response to the global problematique, especially since it effectively draws attention to its own limitations. For those who find the various jargons unhelpful, many of the metaphors in Section CM were designed to clarify the significance in practice of alternation.

Although the results of this deliberate editorial experiment are interesting and indicative of further possibilities, the entries raise many questions concerning the appropriateness of the language used. The language is stilted and artificial in an attempt both to maintain the pattern and to flesh it out with suitable material from a variety of sources that distinguished allusively between qualities if at all.

Statistics

Statistics on concepts of integrative knowledge, in the light of the methodology of this project, are provided in tables in the commentary and were published in the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential. They are also also available on-line

Media used & multi-media

The profiles of approaches to are published in:

The information generated by this project on integrative and transdisciplinary understandings has been published initially in the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential; subsequently it has been made available on-line.

Although no efforts have as yet been made to explore relationships between the different approaches to integrative knowledge using multi-media techniques, the multi-media experiments to explore the complexity of relationships between problems, strategies, values, organizations and human development through experimental visualization techniques are in response to the concerns of this project.


From Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed by Anthony Judge
under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.