From integration to interaction: A knowledge ecology framework

By Zoë Sofoulis

Zoë Sofoulis (biography)

Would a focus on ‘knowledge ecology’ provide a useful alternative to ‘knowledge integration’ in inter- and trans-disciplinary research?

My experience in bringing perspectives from the humanities, arts and social sciences (HASS) to projects led by researchers from science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) has led me to agree with Sharp and colleagues (2011) that ‘knowledge integration’ is essentially a positivist concept, dependent on the idealist model of a unified field of scientific knowledge to which every bit of science contributed.

Many partners and co-researchers from STEM backgrounds, it seems, cannot recognise other knowledge paradigms and can only ‘integrate’ knowledge in the form of quantitative data. HASS research is excluded or disqualified as merely ‘anecdotal’ or ‘subjective’. Like racial or cultural assimilation, knowledge integration seems to require non-dominant knowledges to disguise or erase their unique differentiating features in order to blend with the dominant positivist paradigm.

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