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Forest science or forest sciences: interdisciplinarity between inevitability, vision, and utopia

Oesten, Gerhard, Schanz, Heiner, Spies, GertVolker
Forstwissenschaftliches Centralblatt 1999 v.118 no.1-6 pp. 368-380
forestry, forests, research methods, scientists, trees
Due to of its supposedly unusual research subjects and structure, forestry is often portrayed as a quintessential example of an interdisciplinary scientific field. There are three general arguments for the necessity of interdisciplinarity in all scientific practice: the “double orientation” of disciplines towards their objects and their questions, the social relativity of science, and the practical structure of scientific practice. In thus disputing the idea of a discipline and the complementary idea of disciplinarity, this article shows that there are many reasons why disciplines exist, but disciplinarity in scientific practice does not.In their daily work, however, scientists typically see disciplinarity as a real impediment to interdisciplianry cooperation. Therefore, although interdisciplinary practice is inevitable, it requires active management. This article characterizes the basic approaches to interdisciplinary cooperation in terms of their structure, form, and base. It identifies the central element of interdisciplinary cooperation as a management pool which organizes a permanent interdisciplinary discussion.