Encyclopedia of World Problems - Archived Information

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A principal characteristic of the global problematique is its apparent complexity. This calls for a complex response interrelating many different intellectual resources and insights and involving sensitivity to very different kinds of constraint. Integrative approaches of this kind have proved inadequate or exceedingly difficult to implement in a society characterized by specialization and fragmentation. Following token interest in interdisciplinarity in its own right, recent years have seen an emphasis on a project-by-project pragmatic approach. This avoids the need for any form of conceptual framework transcending individual disciplines, but begs the question as to the relationship between such projects.

The purpose of this project is to assemble descriptions of the range of concepts or conceptual approaches which are, in some way, considered integrative and which are held by some international constituencies to provide the key to the organization of any effective strategic response to the global problematique. Many of the words used to label these concepts are those which are considered indicators of the power of an advocated approach. They frequently appear in project proposals to trigger favourable response, whether or not any content can be given to them in practice. Words like "global", "integrative", "networking" and "systematic" are the magical "words- of-power" in the modern organizational world.


Bibliographical references, by author, are given in Section KY.


Detailed comments are provided. The project as a whole attempts to respond to the dramatic problem of how to interrelate vital conceptual insights which are essentially incommensurable and in practice often mutually antagonistic. A plurality of responses is not in itself an adequate response, especially since each fails to internalize the discontinuity, incompatibility and disagreement which its existence as an alternative engenders. It is for this reason that the second part explores the possibility, implicit or explicit in recent studies, that a more appropriate answer might emerge from a patterned alternation between alternatives. This calls for a focus on the models of alternation by which the pattern and timing of cyclic transformations can be ordered between mutually opposed alternatives. It highlights the possibility that the kind of integrative approach required may not be fully describable within the language of any single conceptual framework, however sophisticated.


The contents of this project may be considered as complementing the other projects in ways such as the following:

  • Metaphors and patterns: By the manner in which integrative knowledge is communicated and through the evolution of forms of communication to reflect new aspects of integration.
  • Human development: By the manner in which advances in the integration of knowledge are paralleled by integration of the individual and of society and require such integration in order to become meaningful.
  • World problems: By the importance of integrative knowledge for comprehending the nature of the global problematique, and by the manner in which that problematique calls for new kinds of integrative knowledge.
  • Transformative approaches: By the integrative characteristics required of innovative techniques.
  • Human values: By the challenge of providing integrative frameworks to interrelate seemingly unrelated values and by the inherently integrative nature of value perspectives.