Cognitive Integration in Transdisciplinary Science:  Knowledge as a Key Notion

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Association for Interdisciplinary Studies


We argue for an understanding of transdisciplinary modes of scientific knowledge production that rests on assumptions regarding the specific tasks and challenges for a “problem-solving” or “action-oriented” science. A comprehensive model of analytical tasks in scientific knowledge production is put forward comprising: (1) the production of systemic knowledge; (2) the assessment of systemic properties; (3) the analysis of systems of goals, goods, and values; and (4) the assessment of actions. It is part of our understanding of transdisciplinarity that, although classical disciplinary knowledge production usually addresses only one of these tasks at a time, transdisciplinary knowledge production usually aims at addressing several or all of them simultaneously. It is this ambition that generates the needs for integrative processes in transdisciplinary projects. After introducing a distinction between cognitive and social integration, we argue for our claim that at least cognitive integrational tasks, and the objects of resulting synthesis in research and higher education, can be mapped onto a matrix of these analytical tasks. Further, we argue that such a mapping allows for more targeted and more specific formulations of the integrational tasks. On the basis of a substantial concept of knowledge, we then lay out and discuss three areas of cognitive integrative processes in transdisciplinary science: (1) the four domains of scientific analysis, (2) disciplinary divisions of labor within domains of analysis, and (3) heterogeneous (scientific as well as non-scientific) expertise.




Burger, Paul, and Rainer Kamber. "Cognitive Integration in Transdisciplinary Science." Issues in Integrative Studies 21 (2003): 43-73.