Transdisciplinary Perspectives on Transitions to Sustainability: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Transdisciplinary Perspectives on Transitions to Sustainability

1st Edition

Edited by Edmond Byrne, Gerard Mullally, Colin Sage


254 pages | 14 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781472462954
pub: 2016-07-04
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Demonstrating how a university can, in a very practical and pragmatic way, be re-envisioned through a transdisciplinary informed frame, this book shows how through an open and collegiate spirit of inquiry the most pressing and multifaceted issue of contemporary societal (un)sustainability can be addressed and understood in a way that transcends narrow disciplinary work. It also provides a practical exemplar of how far more meaningful deliberation, understandings and options for action in relation to contemporary sustainability-related crises can emerge than could otherwise be achieved. Indeed it helps demonstrate how only through a transdisciplinary ethos and approach can real progress be achieved. The fact that this can be done in parallel to (or perhaps underneath) the day-to-day business of the university serves to highlight how even micro seed initiatives can further the process of breaking down silos and reuniting C.P. Snow’s ‘two cultures’ after some four centuries of the relentless project of modernity. While much has been written and talked about with respect to both sustainability and transdisciplinarity, this book offers a pragmatic example which hopefully will signpost the ways others can, will and indeed must follow in our common quest for real progress.

Table of Contents

Part 1: Setting the Scene

  1. Contexts of Transdisciplinarity: Drivers, Discourses & Process
  2. Gerard Mullally, Colin Sage and Edmond Byrne

  3. Disciplines, Perspectives and Conversations
  4. Gerard Mullally, Edmond Byrne and Colin Sage

  5. Sustainability as Contingent Balance between Opposing though Interdependent Tendencies; A Process Approach to Progress and Evolution
  6. Edmond Byrne

    Part 2: Transdisciplinary Conversations and Conceptions

  7. Paradigmatic Transformation across the Disciplines; Snapshots of an Emerging Complexity Informed Approach to Progress, Evolution and Sustainability
  8. Edmond Byrne

  9. Fear and Loading in the Anthropocene: Narratives of Apocalypse and Salvation in the Irish Media
  10. Gerard Mullally

  11. Bio-fuelling the Hummer? Transdisciplinary Thoughts on Techno-Optimism and Innovation in the Transition from Unsustainability
  12. John Barry

  13. The Gulf between Legal and Scientific Conceptions of Ecological ‘Integrity’: The Need for a Shared Understanding in Regulatory Policy-Making
  14. Owen McIntyre and John O'Halloran

  15. Precaution and Prudence in Sustainability: Heuristic of Fear and Heuristic of Love
  16. Bénédicte Sage-Fuller

  17. Sustainable Future Ecological Communities: On the Absence and Continuity of Sacred Symbols, Sublime Objects and Charismatic Heroes
  18. Kieran Keohane

  19. Using Energy Systems Modelling to Inform Ireland’s Low Carbon Future
  20. Brian Ó Gallachóir, Paul Deane and Alessandro Chiodi

  21. Markets, Productivism and the Implications for Irish Rural Sustainable Development
  22. Mary O’Shaughnessy and Colin Sage

  23. Nanomaterials as an Emerging Category of Environmental Pollutants
  24. David Sheehan

    Part 3: Conclusions

  25. Sustaining Interdisciplinarity? Reflections on an Inter-institutional Exchange by an Early Stage Researcher
  26. Stephan Maier, Michael Narodoslawsky and Gerard Mullally

  27. In Praise of Intellectual Promiscuity in the Service of a ‘Passion for Sustainability’
  28. John Barry

  29. Transdisciplinarity within the University: Emergent Possibilities, Opportunities, Challenges and Constraints

Edmond Byrne, Colin Sage and Gerard Mullally

About the Editors

Dr Edmond Byrne is Senior Lecturer in Process & Chemical Engineering at University College Cork, Ireland.

Dr Gerard Mullally is Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at University College Cork, Ireland.

Dr Colin Sage is Senior Lecturer in Geography at University College Cork, Ireland.

All three are lead collaborators on the ‘Sustainability in Society’ transdisciplinary research group at University College Cork, Ireland.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SCIENCE / Earth Sciences / Geography


'The homogeneous worldview of mechanical reductionism is incapable of encompassing the complex nature of sustainability. Treating a richly heterogeneous world demands a more appropriate metaphysics. The collected authors, whose interests span a multitude of disciplines, embark here upon the task of formulating such a vision adequate to the task of maintaining the human endeavor.' 

Robert E. Ulanowicz, University of Maryland, USA

'This is an essential read for anyone interested in how researchers can help catalyse more practical and ambitious actions that do justice to the full depth of sustainability challenges. With humour, authority, humility – and great breadth of experience – the authors drive energetically through the daunting thicket of barriers, to help inform and inspire diverse kinds of much-needed transdisciplinarity.' 

Andy Stirling, University of Sussex, UK

'Byrne, Mullally and Sage present a rich collection of perspectives on the increasing alignment of inter- and trans-disciplinarity with sustainability. Spanning theory and practice, the book situates new approaches in a history of arguments for alternative modes of thought and action. Chapters steer readers through the plurality of definitions, narratives, and philosophical frameworks of the core concepts. They also consider the role of technology, legal and political contexts, infrastructure and education within Ireland and the larger European context.' 

Julie Thompson Klein, Wayne State University, USA