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Crossing disciplines to address urban sustainability

Paskins, J; Bell, S; Haklay, M; Croxford, B; Julier, S; (2012) Crossing disciplines to address urban sustainability. Sustainability , 5 (1) 34 - 37. 10.1089/SUS.2012.9991.

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Abstract

This paper presents findings from the evaluation of Bridging the Gaps: Sustainable Urban Spaces (BTG), a novel interdisciplinary sustainability research funding program at University College London (UCL), funded by the United Kingdom Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). All of the EPSRC's Bridging the Gaps programs aim to initiate and support interdisciplinary collaboration within a university. The program at UCL was designed to create research partnerships that focus on problems in the area of sustainable urban spaces, an area that features complex problems that often overlap different academic disciplines. The program initially focused on building relationships within the three UCL faculties: The Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment, The Faculty of Engineering Sciences, and The Faculty of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, but subsequently brought in participants from other faculties. Bridging the Gaps has brought together researchers working on different elements of a problem, allowing each of them to contribute approaches from their own discipline. This paper presents feedback from participants in the program. Respondents discuss their experience in cross disciplinary working and its importance for their work. We address the question of whether the benefits are outweighed by the complexities of crossing disciplines, and we investigate the role that programs like BTG can play in making the process easier. We also discuss the challenge of creating the conditions for interdisciplinary work and ways in which we can use our experience to minimize the barriers of crossing disciplines in the future.

Type:Article
Title:Crossing disciplines to address urban sustainability
DOI:10.1089/SUS.2012.9991
UCL classification:UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering
UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > UCL Energy Institute

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