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Can environmental appraisal be truly interdisciplinary?

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Environmental appraisal is a multidisciplinary decision-making support tool, which aims to promote sustainable development through policies of environmental management and planning. It does so by relying on skills and knowledge that come from the social sciences, natural sciences and applied sciences. Within this context, many recognise that to strengthen and improve practice, environmental appraisal needs to evolve into a more interdisciplinary tool, with greater cross-fertilisation between disciplines and closer collaborations between practice traditions and communities of professionals. This paper suggests that, to date, environmental appraisal is far from being truly interdisciplinary. It argues that ‘gate-keepers’ are ensuring that the boundaries, traditions and cultural assumptions between disciplines and professions are maintained, setting the frame of reference that guides the practice of environmental appraisal, and influencing professional views in terms of the way in which things are/should be done. Therefore, this paper attempts to explore the cultural assumptions through which environmental appraisal is practised in competent planning organisations, using a cultural filters approach.
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Keywords: cultural filters; environmental appraisal; interdisciplinarity; management; planning

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape,Newcastle University, Claremont TowerNewcastle upon TyneNE1 7RU, UK

Publication date: November 1, 2011

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