Accepted paper:

Human ecology and the ecosystem perspective: from a disciplinary to a pluri-disciplinary perspective


Inês Vieira (FCSH-UNL)
Magda Pinto (Universidade de Brasilia)
Iva Pires (Faculdade Ciências Sociais e Humanas - UNL)

Paper short abstract:

The aim of our paper is to address some epistemological foundations, from a disciplinary/fragmented/limited approach to an ecosystem one, with the complex/nonlinear reflection on the contemporary ecological problems. We highlight human ecology as a field guide due to its pluridisciplinary matrix.

Paper long abstract:

Social and technological development, as well as the scale and intensity of human interventions on the ecosystems, offer increasingly complex problems. Furthermore, the globalization of the environmental problems becomes more obvious and the uncertainty on the economic, social and environmental aspects increases. Complex problems call for complex solutions and new interdisciplinary knowledge and co-operation between social and natural sciences. As we face an urgent environmental challenge we need a science that is more integrative, that can assess the complex reality from a more comprehensive perspective. In this sense, human ecology is one of the few areas of scientific knowledge that has developed over the last forty years a truly multidisciplinary approach, where there are intense reflections on not only the ecological issue, but mainly on integrating the ecological and the human systems, overcoming in some ways the Cartesian paradigm, compartmentalized and disciplinary. The understanding of complex and dynamic interactions between social, economic and environmental processes has defined the pluridisciplinary matrix that differentiates human ecology from other research areas and that arrives from its roots both in Ecology and in social sciences, namely in sociology and geography. In this paper we intend to describe the epistemological basis that has been used by human ecology and the emergence of an ecosystem paradigm to support the transition from a disciplinary to a multidisciplinary approach.

panel P313
Practices of environmental justice: negotiating the relation between the social and the ecological sphere