Policy Sciences

, Volume 48, Issue 2, pp 233–255 | Cite as

Integration and interdisciplinarity: concepts, frameworks, and education

  • Susan G. Clark
  • Richard L. Wallace
Research Note


Humans face enormous and growing ecological and social problems. Knowledge and methods of inquiry are necessary to understand and address these problems. Although this seems obvious, arguments rage over which methods are reliable and whose perspectives and epistemology (disciplinary or otherwise) are best suited to address problems. To compound matters, knowledge is fragmented in its organization, classification, production, and use in academe, in the professions, and in society. A practical conceptualization of interdisciplinarity in the interests of integration is needed to address the multiple perspectives, epistemologies, and fragmentation inherent in these problems. Here, we offer a conception of integration that fosters an interrelated dynamic system of healthy people, society, and nature. Next, we look at “knowledge”—its classification, levels, and challenges. Following that, we review a model of integration almost a century old that has been abstracted into a practical, interdisciplinary meta-framework that organizes both diagnostics and prescriptive inquiry. Finally, educating about integration is a subject of central concern in many colleges and universities today, one that we discuss in terms of goals, student competence, educational designs, practical challenges, and how to address them. Our entire endeavor is couched in terms of the overarching goal of seeking the common interest of human dignity in healthy environments for all.


Integration Interdisciplinarity Knowledge Education Framework Policy sciences 



We want to thank our many students, colleagues, and co-workers on diverse projects over the last 40+ years, as well as administrators and our home institutions for their support that has taken various forms. Clark wants to specifically thank the Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative. Denise Casey and three anonymous colleagues reviewed the manuscript.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Yale School of Forestry and Environmental StudiesNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Department of Environmental StudiesUrsinus CollegeCollegevilleUSA

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