Coupling Human Information and Knowledge Systems with social-ecological systems change: Reframing research, education, and policy for sustainability

J. David Tàbara, Ilan Chabay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The rapid acceleration and intensity of global environmental change places great demands on humanity for developing innovative views and processes for the integration of knowledge in ways that are conducive to sustainability learning. In this paper, we argue that in order to develop robust sustainability learning feedbacks between knowledge and action we need the coupling of Human Information and Knowledge Systems (HIKS) with social-ecological systems (SES) dynamics. In particular, a substantial change in core worldviews and understandings about the nature of HIKS and how they relate to SES is required. Changing such epistemological and ontological assumptions of the quality of robust social-ecological knowledge is a first step for the emergence of transformative pathways towards sustainability in research, education, and policy. To enhance our understanding of such complexity, we describe two general ideal-type worldviews of HIKS and their relationships with SES in Western culture. One worldview understands information and knowledge systems as evolving in a closed, ahistorical, social-ecologically disembodied linear space, in ways which can be reduced to a single form of representation. The other worldview understands information and knowledge systems as operating in an open space composed of multiple and diverse patterns of hybrid social-ecological practices and configurations, inevitably embedded in specific times, spaces and contextual conditions. We argue that the open, but socio-ecologically embodied worldview is better suited to support sustainability learning and transformation. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-81
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Volume28
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2013

Keywords

  • Complexity
  • Human Information and Knowledge Systems (HIKS)
  • Ideal types
  • Social-ecological systems (SES)
  • Sustainability learning
  • Worldviews

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