Following Ali’s last post, the notion of expertise is also relevant to the second years’ Geographical Research tutorial, this week, on interdisciplinarity. Evans and Marvin (2006) argue, in one of the recommended readings, that although scientists represent a particular source of expertise (one that we might define as formalised through certification and publication), this by no means exhausts all relevant forms of knowledge. Through reference to urban sustainability, Evans and Marvin reveal how the complexity of contemporary cities requires synthesis between a community of experts (for example, between researchers, local citizens and planners), to understand and manage various issues.
From an academic perspective, fostering closer relations between science and society is often justified in terms of the ‘logic of accountability’; where research is increasingly expected to be answerable, or more relevant, to society (see Nowotny et al. 2001). Interdisciplinary research provides one means of developing a more accountable agenda, where communities of experts can work together legitimately and, potentially, deliver relevant results to the wider public. The logic of accountability is illustrated in several ways by Barry et al. (2008). However, as the second years will no doubt be able to inform you, conceptual and methodological issues, arising from interdisciplinary research, can make the notion of expertise somewhat difficult to transform into efficient practice.
Barry, A., Born, G. & Weszkalnys, G. (2008) Logics of Interdisiciplinarity, Economy and Society, 37, 1, 20-49
Evans, R, & Marvin, S. (2006) Researching the sustainable city: three modes of Interdisciplinarity. Environment and Planning A. 38. pp.1009-1928
Nowotny, H., Scott, P. & Gibbons, M. (2001) Re-thinking Science: knowledge and the public in an age of uncertainty. Cambridge: Polity.