The globe is being dramatically affected by environmental changes such as alterations to the composition of the atmosphere (e.g., carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide concentrations), associated shifts in climate and reductions in biological diversity (Vitousek, 1994). Earth system science, a multidisciplinary field of study, has become established to improve our understanding of the functioning of ecosystems across the entire planet and to train a new generation of scientists with the necessary skills to tackle the complex issues associated with global change. Some have argued that most universities have been slow to embrace the challenge of global change science and have not moved quickly enough to set up an effective framework or programs for fostering interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research and teaching (Lawton, 2001). In too many institutions traditional academic departments and subject areas are the norm and this traditional organizational framework can often limit the interactions necessary for fostering truly multidisciplinary research like that needed for earth system science.
Was this article helpful?