My research into the idea of interdisciplinarity is carried with Professor Simon Marvin of the SURF Centre. It uses the sustainable city as a case study for examining collaboration. Sustainability seems inherently interdisciplinary as the problems it raises cross so many boundaries inside the academy and without. Whilst not directly addressing the problems of climate change and the other environmental issues that are central to mainstream research on cities and sustainability, examining how such research is carried out and used provides an important insight into the practical challenges of doing interdisciplinary work.
My work on interdisciplinarity combines my own experiences as a researcher on an EPSRC research project, in which I worked with colleagues in Survey, Civil Engineering and Town and Country Planning, with my more recent work on the nature of expertise. In making the connections between these two sets of ideas, two sets of questions have emerged:
These ideas were also discussed at an ESF Workshop on Urban Science organised by Professor Marvin and myself and held in Manchester in January 2005.
The most recent publication, which directly addresses the problems of interdisciplinary research and proposes both a typology of different approaches and some recommendations for good practice is available as:
Evans, R J and Marvin, S (2006) ‘Researching the Sustainable City: Three Modes of Interdisciplinarity’, Environment and Planning (A), 38(6): 1009-1028. <http://dx.doi.org/10.1068/a37317>
Two papers which draw on the earlier research project, and which thus emphasis the difficulties of interdisciplinarity rather than their resolution are:
Evans, R J, Guy, S and Marvin S (2001) 'Views of the City: Multiple Pathways to Sustainable Transport Futures', Local Environment 6(2) 121-33. <http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13549830120052773
Evans, Robert, Marvin, Simon and Guy, Simon (1999) 'Making a Difference: SSK and Urban Energy Policies'. Science Technology and Human Values 24(1): 104-130. <http://sth.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/24/1/105
Last updated on 1 July, 2010