Advanced scholarship

Interdisciplinary research at the science–policy interface

Authored by: Peter M. Haas , Ronald B. Mitchell

Routledge Handbook of Global Environmental Politics

Print publication date:  September  2013
Online publication date:  October  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415694209
eBook ISBN: 9780203799055
Adobe ISBN: 9781135090517


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How can we better organize and publish meaningful research to help us better understand and respond to the global environment problems we face? This chapter provides suggestions for successful interdisciplinary research on international environmental politics, based on a review of published and unpublished works in the field. Usable science and knowledge is essential for devising effective environmental policies to address major global environmental threats, including climate change (see Chapter 28). Most policy analysts believe that better public discourse and elite deliberations require reliable knowledge that is accurate and socially legitimate (Haas 2004; Mitchell et al. 2006). Accurate knowledge in the environmental domain must be interdisciplinary in order to capture the complex array of interactions between social and physical activities that give rise to global environmental threats. Legitimate knowledge must enjoy a social pedigree, which in practice is often the peer-review process. For example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) requires that all information that it presents be published or accepted in peer-reviewed journals and books. While this requirement leads to a lag in the dissemination of scientific knowledge to policy making, it does enforce the legitimacy of the knowledge that is being presented. Consequently, despite efforts by “climate denialists” to delegitimize climate change science over the last several years in the United States and the United Kingdom, the integrity of the climate change science was ultimately upheld by the courts and high-level oversight panels in each country.

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