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Making an IMPACT on the environment: Sustainability Science and the I-School Movement

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Title: Making an IMPACT on the environment: Sustainability Science and the I-School Movement
Author(s): Fonseca, Fred; Martin, James; Davis, Clodoveu; Camara, Gilberto
Subject(s): Sustainability multidisciplinarity environmental modeling philosophy
Abstract: Understanding how the environment is changing, in a global scale is one of the most important research questions of today. The sheer variety of areas of knowledge required to tackle this question is so great that only a solid interdisciplinary approach can succeed. Sustainability science aims at doing so staying at the intersection of more traditional research areas. The idea behind sustainability science is to develop ways to understand, integrate, and model the interaction between nature and society. The I-School movement is important for that purpose, considering its nature as a source of integration between diverse disciplines and research areas. Focusing mainly on modeling the interactions between nature and society, we opted to use a philosophical point of view to understand the implication s of putting together in a single model society and nature. We used Kant?s view of man as phenomena (belonging to nature, being completely causally determined) and as noumena (human being as being free, as a thing in itself) to frame our discussion on how to build models that include both views. We also discuss the problem of integrating opposing views, such as society and nature, in a model, the Tower of Babel problem. We also discuss a common solution to this problem, the Newspeak solution, which is achieved through the imposition of a common ontology to which users are required to conform if they wish to participate at all. Looking for an integration of society and nature in modeling, we tie Gadamer?s notion of Play to self-organization as a way to balance, within a single model, two contrary positions. Finally we conclude that a dialogue of clashing views can be held together without devolving into chaos, in which a contradiction implies all propositions, usually thought to be the consequence of bringing together inconsistent positions. This solution points beyond the either/or that is central to the Tower of Babel/Newspeak dilemma. The I-School movement has a unique opportunity to be the place where these discussions occur.
Issue Date: 2010-02-03
Genre: Conference Paper / Presentation
Type: Text
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/14957
Date Available in IDEALS: 2010-02-22
 

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