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GoLD Interdisciplinarity

Approach to Interdisciplinarity

Only through an interdisciplinary approach will it be possible to provide a useful understanding of the drivers of endemic disease control, their non-linear impacts and successful interventions in terms of the development of policy and its effective implementation. Natural science can provide the understanding of the diseases themselves and the way in which they spread and can be controlled, but the drivers for disease control are in large part social and economic. In addition, social science can help the development of design principles for better disease control by providing frameworks for the examination of why there are different categories for disease control, e.g., endemic/exotic.

Following the distinction made by Tait (2006) our intention is to aim for Mode 1 or discipline focused research, a longer-term collaboration that helps disciplines to evolve rather than a Mode 2 or shorter-term interdisciplinary collaboration concerned solely with the solution of specific real world problems. Thus, while the research will lead to suggested solutions for such problems, it will also address the theoretical and methodological challenges of working across interdisciplinary boundaries.

  • Epidemiology is central to the project. There is increasing use of large databases for understanding infection and disease at farm, regional and national scales. Recent advances in epidemiological modelling, especially the development of validated predictive models, allow us to investigate disease control interventions. Epidemiology allows us to identify the efficacy and effectiveness of disease control interventions.
  • Economics provides evaluations of disease control measures could be undertaken through model assisted scenario development and seminar gaming. Some important aspects of policy, e.g. compensation, require economic modelling. In addition, economic incentives can affect the behaviour of a range of important stakeholders, e.g., farmers, supermarkets, insurance companies.
  • Political science can draw on work on policy communities and networks to inform an analysis of the structure of government for dealing with infections which are to a large extent treated individually and independently. Both specialist advisers within government and external stakeholders shape the range of policy options and their selection. Political analysis would thus cover the response of stakeholders to the disease control interventions identified by the epidemiological modelling and the incentives emerging from the economic analysis.
  • Law provides the mechanisms whereby control of disease is enacted. We need to take account of issues such as liability that can arise from livestock diseases and the structure of regulatory statutes.

There is considerable complexity in this general area in terms of the range of diseases and their characteristics and the menu of policy options, but this complexity creates a need for bringing together a variety of theoretical perspectives from different disciplines. Effective integration will proceed first from links between the disciplines identified in the research design in terms of questions they pose from each other.

Project Presentations - Interdisciplinarity