Riding alone on the elevator

A class experiment in interdisciplinary education

in Learning and Teaching
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  • 1 University of Hamburg malinfrank@gmx.de
  • 2 University of Hamburg rebecca.froese@studium.uni-hamburg.de
  • 3 University of Hamburg barbara.hof@somlen.de
  • 4 University of Hamburg maike.scheffold@uni-hamburg.de
  • 5 University of Hamburg felix.schreyer@posteo.de
  • 6 Monash University mathias.zeller@monash.edu
  • 7 University of Hamburg simone.roedder@uni-hamburg.de
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The ability to conduct interdisciplinary research is crucial to address complex real-world problems that require the collaboration of different scientific fields, with global warming being a case in point. To produce integrated climate-related knowledge, climate researchers should be trained early on to work across boundaries and gain an understanding of diverse disciplinary perspectives. This article argues for social breaching as a methodology to introduce students with a natural science background to the social sciences in the context of integrated climate sciences. The breach of a social norm presented here was to ask people whether the experimenter could ride on an elevator alone. We conclude that the approach is effective in letting students with a natural science background explore and experience the power of social reality, and is especially suitable for a small-sized introductory class.

Contributor Notes

Anna Malin Frank is a student of the CliSAP Master’s programme ‘Integrated Climate System Sciences’ at the University of Hamburg. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in geosciences. She is currently interested in different cultural perceptions of climate change and possible individual behaviour change in the context of climate change. E-mail: malinfrank@gmx.de

Rebecca Froese is a PhD candidate in the Research Group ‘Climate Change and Security’ (CLISEC) at the University of Hamburg’s climate cluster CliSAP with a Master’s degree in ‘Integrated Climate System Sciences’ and a Bachelor’s degree in earth and ocean sciences. Her research focuses on the role of non-party stakeholders in climate compatible development. E-mail: rebecca.froese@studium.uni-hamburg.de

Barbara Christiane Hof is a Master’s student of ‘Integrated Climate System Sciences’ at the University of Hamburg. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in physics from the Technical University of Darmstadt. She is interested in research on the link between the physical climate system and society. E-mail: barbara.hof@somlen.de

Maike Iris Esther Scheffold is a research assistant at the Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Natural Sciences, Climate Modelling, University of Hamburg. Previously, she studied ‘Integrated Climate System Sciences’ at the University of Hamburg. She received her Bachelor’s degree in geology/geophysics after studying four semesters of chemical engineering and is currently interested in marine ecosystems and socially acceptable ecosystem management approaches. E-mail: maike.scheffold@uni-hamburg.de

Felix Schreyer is a guest researcher at the research unit ‘Sustainability and Global Change’ at the University of Hamburg and an alumnus of its Master’s programme ‘Integrated Climate System Science’. As an undergraduate, he studied physics of the earth and philosophy. He is interested in research on the economic assessment of climate change impacts and sustainable future transformation pathways. E-mail: felix.schreyer@posteo.de

Mathias Zeller is a PhD student at the School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. His interests are the physical aspects of the climate system, focussing on the role of the ocean as well as societal impacts of climate change and their media representation. E-mail: mathias.zeller@monash.edu

Simone Rödder, Prof. Dr phil. nat., is an assistant professor of sociology of science at the University of Hamburg’s Department of Social Sciences, Business and Economics. She heads the research group ‘Understanding Science in Interaction’ at the climate cluster CliSAP and teaches social sciences in the Cluster’s graduate school. She has an academic background in biology and sociology. Her main research interests are the sociology of science and science communication. E-mail: simone.roedder@uni-hamburg.de

Learning and Teaching

The International Journal of Higher Education in the Social Sciences

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