Global change research and the "people disciplines": Toward a new dispensation
Climate science is embedded in a much grander geoscientific attempt to understand an earth system perturbed by human activities. "Global change science," as it is sometimes called, is now trying ever harder to understand and influence the so-called human dimensions of environmental change. While mainstream social science approaches like environmental economics are central to this effort, what of the wider social sciences and the humanities? They stand to be vital intermediaries between geoscientific claims about a changing planet and the publics, politicians, business leaders, and third-sector organizations that must now respond to those claims or court danger. This article explores the relationships between epistemic communities across the disciplines that are together trying to represent the earth and its inhabitants at a time when the relationship between the two needs to change. Though the wider social sciences and humanities have responded to the epochal claims of geoscience, this article shows that a combination of ignorance, timidity, and distance is nonetheless allowing those involved to perpetuate unhelpful institutional and intellectual separations. The article seeks to explain this state of affairs and offer reasons why it needs to change. The prospects for a new dispensation are, however, distant.