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The Knowledge Dimension of the Sustainability Challenge

IJED, Vol. 3 No. 1, (2001)

With the increasing awareness of the global environmental challenges, society expects a concerted intellectual leadership from the scientific community in terms of knowledge acquisition and solution generation. This is not a task to be left for few specialized sciences. It requires the mobilization and utilization of human ingenuity within each and every discipline. This leads to the following questions: Is science, as we know it today, capable of fulfilling this expectation? If not, what kinds of epistemological re-orientation do we need to make? Are there any historical parallels in the development of science, which could be used as the basis for a change? This paper takes the position that: yes, science has the capacity to respond to the environmental challenge, however, both the mono-disciplinary sciences and the interdisciplinary environmental sciences have their own limitations which can only be overcome through the development of a transdisciplinary paradigm.

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