Article first published online: 14 SEP 2011
© 2011 by The Policy Studies Organization
Review of Policy Research
Volume 28, Issue 5, pages 397–399, September 2011
How to Cite
Gore, C. (2011), Editor's Notes. Review of Policy Research, 28: 397–399. doi: 10.1111/j.1541-1338.2011.00507.x
- Issue published online: 14 SEP 2011
- Article first published online: 14 SEP 2011
I began my undergraduate studies shortly after the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED)––the Rio Conference. I entered university at a time when many universities began introducing interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary programs focused on environmental issues. I was among a generation of students interested in both the social and natural sciences and who believed studying them together would be beneficial for better understanding and responding to the environmental challenges the world was confronting. In spite of the fact that the rationale for interdisciplinary learning and UNCED were sound, however, the anticipated outcomes have not been as clear.
The logic of interdisciplinary learning rests on the assumed benefits that come from developing a broader understanding of approaches and knowledge from various disciplines and knowing how this knowledge interrelates. The challenge, however, is that as our understanding of the complexity of the world becomes greater, our need for specialization increases as we must understand the many parts and functions of ecological and planetary systems and the logic of political and economic behavior. Similarly, UNCED drew attention to the need for action on environmental issues in the early 1990s under the auspices of sustainable development, building on rising attention to these concerns since the late 1960s. Two decades later, however, the reality and complexity of local, regional, national, and international economic, political, and social demands and preferences has significantly tempered enthusiasm for what UNCED symbolized or for its legacy.
These pessimistic observations do not translate into an argument to dampen efforts to teach about the complexity of the world, nor to relinquish efforts to design, implement, and support mechanisms and structures that respond to the planetary problems created by humans. Indeed, despite frustrations with the last two decades or more of global efforts to ensure human and planetary sustainability, many scholars continue to investigate and argue that there are alternatives. This is particularly important in light of the fact that the world community continues to put faith in multilateral processes focused on sustainability as illustrated by the return to Rio de Janeiro in June 2012 for “Rio+20,” the UN Conference on Sustainable Development. The two central themes of the Rio+20 Conference are “a green economy in the context of sustainable development” and “the institutional framework for sustainable development.”
In this issue of Review of Policy Research (RPR), we are fortunate to present a symposium of short papers written by leading scholars and practitioners on the theme of “Rio+20 and the Green Economy.” Adil Najam and Henrik Selin of Boston University's Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future brought the authors together for a discussion in September 2010. As the introduction to the symposium notes, the authors were asked to think big and be bold. The papers, ranging on subjects from consumerism to accountability to energy to civil society, are provocative reflections that will surely stimulate reflection and debate, and hopefully, feed the interests of another generation of students. Moreover, with this issue being published in September 2011, our hope is that the papers will stimulate debate in university courses and spur deep reflection in the international process leading up to the UN conference.
In addition to the symposium papers, two original research articles are published in this issue of RPR. In the article, “The Policy Dynamics of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System,” George Busenberg returns us to the debates over the Alasakan pipeline. His original contribution comes from his application of the punctuated equilibrium theory of policy change to this important case, suggesting an approach that might be worth using in other similar cases in future. Johannes Urpelainen's article, “International Technology Cooperation: The Problem of Commercial Rivalry,” affirms RPR's ongoing interest in publishing theoretically rigorous research relating to technology issues. Urpelainen examines under what conditions firms and states will share technology in order to overcome commercial competition. The work is theoretically rich while at the same time presenting important practical policy implications.
In our ongoing effort to draw attention to significant debates in science, technology, and environmental studies, our “Viewpoints and Perspectives” contribution this issue fits perfectly. In their article, “Blurred Boundaries: Probing the Ethics of Cyberspace Research,” Ronald Deibert and Masashi Crete-Nishihata examine the complex ethical and legal issues scholars are confronting when engaged in research on cyberspace, particularly for those examining security issues. Drawing on their own research experience and other global examples, they identify many unanswered questions concerning present and future cyberspace research and conclude with some important practical actions that can be taken or at minimum considered as the field evolves.
This issue ends with our book reviews. These book reviews also mark a transition in book review editorial duties as both Mark Zachary Taylor (Zak Taylor), Science and Technology (S&T) Editor, and Stacy VanDeveer, Environment Editor, are moving on to other activities. Zak became S&T book review editor in 2007, and Stacy became environment book review editor in 2008. Both Stacy and Zak have gone well beyond their book review editorial responsibilities and provided invaluable ideas and support to the journal at large. Stacy will be taking his editorial skills to the journal Global Environmental Politics, where he will become coeditor with Kate O'Neill. Zak will stay on as an RPR editorial board member and will focus his “extra” time on some important research and writing projects. My sincerest thanks are extended to both Stacy and Zak for their commitment and enthusiasm to the challenging book review editorial duties and for their full support of the journal, its goals, and its evolution.
With the departure of Stacy and Zak, I have the good fortune of introducing the new book review editors for RPR. Clark A. Miller, Arizona State University, has agreed to become the new Science and Technology book review editor and Henrik Selin, Boston University, the environment book review editor. Clark has a broad and accomplished background and interest in science and technology policy, with a particular emphasis on the governance of new and emerging technologies and the global politics of expertise. He is committed to education in science and technology, with numerous advisory board roles and appointments and administrative responsibilities while at the same time having a distinguished scholarly record, publishing several books, book chapters, journal articles, and research reports that address a range of issues relating to science, technology, and environment. Henrik has an outstanding research record in relation multilevel environmental governance and international environmental issues. He has authored or coauthored many books in recent years on such topics as hazardous chemicals, climate change, and energy. Henrik has also published many book chapters and journal publications on a diverse range of issues. Similar to Clark, Henrik has been associated with several research institutions in the past that have focused on science and technology as well as the environment. Henrik brings a wealth of editorial experience and a diverse range of interests to the book review editorial position. I am grateful that Clark and Henrik have agreed to take on these important roles. They share my enthusiasm for the importance of book reviews. Please write to either of the new editors if you are interested in reviewing one or several books: Henrik Selin (email@example.com) or Clark Miller (firstname.lastname@example.org).