The Potential For Disciplinary Synergism

This volume provides an example of the potential synergism from interdisciplinary collaboration in research on global warming. Given the degree of disciplinary specialization that prevails in academic circles, it is difficult to realize the synergism that comes from cooperation. The most difficult cooperation tends to be that between the biological and natural sciences on one side, and the social sciences on the other. It is across these boundaries that the communication problems are greatest, but it is at this point that collaboration is most needed.

In today's world, it is not feasible for disciplines working alone to develop adequate solutions to contemporary policy problems. No matter whether one is thinking about health policy, research and technology policy, environmental policy, or agricultural policy, disciplinary specialists by themselves can contribute only modestly to solving the problems. This is in part because better policy requires and involves the reform of old institutional arrangements and the design of new ones. Such institutional arrangements cannot be designed without inputs from multiple disciplines. When the problem to be solved extends across national borders, the need for institutional arrangements designed to facilitate such cooperation becomes clearer.

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