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The Knowledge-Policy Interaction for Sustainable Transport – Eased By Interdisciplinarity?

Panel: Presentations

Nenseth, V. Norwegian Institute of Transport Economics, Norway


The paper aims at addressing interdisciplinarity as a means for stronger policy integration in the field of sustainable transport - which seems to be particularly compartmentalized, based on single-handed, mono-disciplinary, policy inputs: CO2 versus NO2; technology versus social changes. In the comprehension of the role of knowledge in policymaking, three main paradigmatic perspectives can be discerned: a rationalistic approach seeing knowledge instrumentally as ‘facts’ or data; (ii) an advocacy approach seeing knowledge mainly as legitimating or as ammunition in (political) interest conflicts; and (iii) a discursive approach seeing knowledge mainly as innovative conceptualization and as new ideas for enhanced enlightening and discursive justification to pave the way for policy change and transformation. In the latter case a certain reflexive (meta-)approach will pay attention to how interdisciplinarity in itself eases the way new scientific knowledge is received, and utilized in a policy context. A fundamental driver for interdisciplinary environmental research is to discover new methods of problem solving, both academically and politically. Interdisciplinarity implies knowledge integration capable of seeing societal and political causes or drivers in relation to the environmental consequences, and in turn, the policy response. An important premise is a collective understanding of the problem - a certain level of shared problem definition. A significant barrier to interdisciplinary environmental research has proved to be the absence of institutional capacity. The paper uses on-going CIENS projects (TEMPO, CIENS-SIS ) as empirical fie


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