Research on human-environment interactions often neglects the resources of the humanities. Hurricane Katrina and the resulting levee breaches in New Orleans offer a case study on the need for inclusion of the humanities in the study of human-environment interactions, particularly the resources they provide in examining ethics and value concerns. Methods from the humanities, when developed in partnership with those from the sciences and social sciences, can provide a more accurate, effective, and just response to the scientific and technological challenges we face as a global community.
Robert Frodeman, Julie Thompson Klein, Carl Mitcham, and Nancy Tuana
Over the course of the last six years, New Directions: Science, Humanities, Policy has taken a case-study approach to questions concerning the nature of knowledge production. Launched in 2001, New Directions promotes interdisciplinary collaborations where physical scientists, social scientists, and humanists work together with public science agencies, the private sector, and communities to deepen our understanding of and develop effective responses to societal problems. Two key elements characterize all New Directions projects. First, by involving the sciences, engineering, and the humanities, in dialogue with the public and private sectors, New Directions unites the two axes of interdisciplinary—the wide and the deep. Second, these experiments in interdisciplinary problem solving function as a means for thematizing the problem of the breakdown between knowledge production and use.