Integral Review

A Transdisciplinary and Transcultural Journal For New Thought, Research, and Praxis

Posts Tagged ‘transdisciplinarity’

Transformative Learning for Climate Change Engagement: Regenerating Perspectives, Principles, and Practice

Gary P. Hampson & Matthew Rich-Tolsma

Abstract: In this position paper the worldview from which climate change continues to occur is identified as late modernism. This worldview is critiqued as being unduly economistic, reductive, mechanistic, and fragmented. There is a clear requirement for an inclusive and transcending transformation of this worldview toward one substantively more able to meet the challenges that climate change presents, as well as an understanding of the processes that facilitate such a transformation. This paper foregrounds transformative learning as a generic process that might well be key to this transformation. The paper addresses transformative learning both as an active process and as a feature of a regenerated worldview, identified here with respect to Griffin’s reconstructive postmodernism, which goes beyond deconstructive postmodernism in its proto-integral orientation. Transformative learning is exemplified by the seminal approach of Mezirow as well as Scharmer’s Theory U. The discussion of worldview is vertically differentiated in terms of principles, worldview perspectives, and sectoral practice with reference to the depth ontology of Inayallatulah’s Causal Layered Analysis. Principles addresses the regeneration of the philosophy of science, and explores the critical contrast between atomism acting as attractor for modernism, and complex integration acting as attractor for reconstructive postmodernism / the ecological worldview; it indicates the fecundity of Bhaskar’s critical realism for aptly addressing climate change. Sectoral practice is represented by higher education, specifically addressing andragogy, heutagogy, the transformative learner, and the transformative educator. Climate change is a complex, big-picture issue, one that requires a complex, integrative epistemology and transdisciplinary orientation.

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The Transdisciplinary Moment(um)

Julie Thompson Klein

Abstract: There is no universal theory, methodology, or definition of transdisciplinarity (TD). Nevertheless, keywords reveal similarities and differences across explanations. This overview tracks five major clusters of meaning: (a) meta-level conceptions of interdisciplinarity, (b) the changing nature and status of unity in the discourse of TD, (c) new alignments with participatory and collaborative problem-oriented research, (d) the forms of knowledge that TD engages, and (e) a transgressive imperative that interrogates the existing structure of knowledge, culture, and education. These categories of meaning are not air-tight. However, with widening use of the core word “transdisciplinarity,” it is important to be alert to these patterns and their underlying values and priorities.

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Cybersemiotics: A New Foundation for Transdisciplinary Theory of Information, Cognition, Meaningful Communication and the Interaction Between Nature and Culture

Søren Brier

Abstract: Cybersemiotics constructs a non-reductionist framework in order to integrate third person knowledge from the exact sciences and the life sciences with first person knowledge described as the qualities of feeling in humanities and second person intersubjective knowledge of the partly linguistic communicative interactions, on which the social and cultural aspects of reality are based. The modern view of the universe as made through evolution in irreversible time, forces us to view man as a product of evolution and therefore an observer from inside the universe. This changes the way we conceptualize the problem and the role of consciousness in nature and culture. The theory of evolution forces us to conceive the natural and social sciences as well as the humanities together in one theoretical framework of unrestricted or absolute naturalism, where consciousness as well as culture is part of nature. But the theories of the phenomenological life world and the hermeneutics of the meaning of communication seem to defy classical scientific explanations. The humanities therefore send another insight the opposite way down the evolutionary ladder, with questions like: What is the role of consciousness, signs and meaning in the development of our knowledge about evolution? Phenomenology and hermeneutics show the sciences that their prerequisites are embodied living conscious beings imbued with meaningful language and with a culture. One can see the world view that emerges from the work of the sciences as a reconstruction back into time of our present ecological and evolutionary self-understanding as semiotic intersubjective conscious cultural and historical creatures, but unable to handle the aspects of meaning and conscious awareness and therefore leaving it out of the story. Cybersemiotics proposes to solve the dualistic paradox by starting in the middle with semiotic cognition and communication as a basic sort of reality in which all our knowledge is created and then suggests that knowledge develops into four aspects of human reality: Our surrounding nature described by the physical and chemical natural sciences, our corporality described by the life sciences such as biology and medicine, our inner world of subjective experience described by phenomenologically based investigations and our social world described by the social sciences. I call this alternative model to the positivistic hierarchy the cybersemiotic star. The article explains the new understanding of Wissenschaft that emerges from Peirce’s and Luhmann’s conceptions.

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New Departures in Tackling Urban Climate Change: Transdisciplinarity for Social Transformation (a critical appraisal of the WBGU’s 2011 Report)

Christoph Woiwode

Abstract: In 2011 the German Advisory Council for Global Change (WBGU) published a remarkable policy document entitled ‘World in Transition: A Social Contract for Sustainability’ in which the authors proclaim the need for a great social transformation at the global scale in order to address climate change. This article builds on and critically discusses the central messages of the report that emphasizes the necessity to pro-actively shape the change of our values and worldviews that underpin our lifestyles and consumption patterns. By arguing for a transdisciplinary approach to implement this challenging vision the report identifies urbanization as a significant dimension in these processes thus shifting away from the dominant focus on socio-technical solutions. This puts the field of urban planning and development and related disciplines at the centre of the climate change adaptation and mitigation debate raising profound questions as to how these professionals, academics and practitioners could respond to the ideas brought forward in the report. The author considers this an opportunity for hitherto largely neglected integral approaches to gain more importance in mainstream urban planning practice and theory. The concluding part sketches out an initial research programme based on the previous discussion in order to illustrate at a more concrete level the implications of an integrative, transdisciplinary framework for planning.

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Trans-Dance: Disciplinary Cross-Dressing and Integral Education in a Language and Sexuality Course

Matthew C. Bronson

Abstract: This article showcases an integral approach to education through the lens of a transdisciplinary graduate-level class on Sexuality and Language. The graduate-level class was co-taught by two CIIS faculty whose backgrounds span the fields of social and cultural anthropology, psychology, sociology, social policy, linguistics, education and drama-centered expressive arts therapy. The class brought together students from six separate academic programs and drew from a wide array of performative and arts-based modes of inquiry to create a deep context through which to unpack the complex relationship(s) between language and sexuality. These practices were interwoven with theoretical exposition and discussion in a hermeneutic spiral leading up to students’ planned research projects. This “disciplinary cross-dressing,” where diverse students and faculty engaged each others’ points of view rigorously in a common inquiry, created powerful teachable moments and served as the foundation for a transgressive mode of scholarship and advocacy.

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Modeling the demands of interdisciplinarity: Toward a framework for evaluating interdisciplinary endeavors

Zachary Stein

Abstract: I suggest there are two key factors that bear on the quality of interdisciplinary endeavors: the complexity of cognition and collaboration and the epistemological structure of interdisciplinary validity claims. The former suggests a hierarchical taxonomy of forms of inquiry involving more than one discipline. Inspired by Jantsh (1972) and looking to Fischer’s (1980) levels of cognitive development, I outline the following forms: disciplinary, multi-disciplinary, cross-disciplinary, inter-disciplinary, and trans-disciplinary. This hierarchical taxonomy based on complexity is then supplemented by an epistemological discussion concerned with validity. I look to a handful of philosophers to distil the general epistemological structure of knowledge claims implicating more than one discipline. This involves differentiating between levels-of-analysis issues and perspectival issues. When all is said and done, we end up with a “language of evaluation” applicable to interdisciplinarity endeavors. Ultimately, this suggests an ideal mode of interdisciplinary endeavoring roughly coterminous with Wilber’s (2006) Integral Methodological Pluralism.

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