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The importance of multi- and interdisciplinarity in research has been recognised by funding institutions as well as researchers themselves in the contemporary academia. However, cooperation between disciplines clearly different from each other has its difficulties. This article aims at recognising the most common problems and also means to overcome them in the framework of Finnish scientific society and administration.  What is required by the funding agent, coordinators, researchers - i.e. what contributes to formation of interdisciplinarity?  Especially, these issues are contemplated through empirical observations by an actual multidisciplinary research programme, namely Global Environmental Change by the organisation of HENVI. The authors of this article are researchers and coordinators in HENVI.

In the first chapter, theoretical categorisation and typology of different cooperative research efforts are introduced. The second chapter introduces the sub-projects of GEC and their individualized aims and subjects. After that, recognised problems of interaction across disciplines are contemplated. Literature of interdisciplinarity in general, theoretical sense is vast and thorough, but the problem seems to lie in how genuine interdisciplinarity is actually attested and how to remove obstacles of cooperation, in motivational or systemic levels.  Finally, concluding remarks are presented.

The HENVI research programme Global Environmental Change

The Helsinki University Centre for Environment HENVI launched a interdisciplinary research programme Global Environmental Change - its Impacts, Scenarios and Control (abbreviation GEC)  in 2008. The main topic being extremely broad, the original aim of HENVI was to empower diverse research interests in as an interdisciplinary manner as possible. Funding of each sub-project is a joint funding with other participating institutions than university of Helsinki. GEC is, therefore, interdisciplinary to begin with in two ways - on the level of research and on the level of administration and funding.   

This three-year programme consists of eight projects performed by University of Helsinki in cooperation with several other institutions, namely, Finnish Forest Research Institute (METLA), Finnish Meteorological Institute, Government Institute for Economic Research (VATT), Ramboll Analytics and Agrifood Research Finland (MTT). The individual research projects are presented in the Table 1 with their topics and affiliations. These research projects relate to larger research consortiums in their home institutions.


Table 1. Global Environmental Change -research programme


The project

The researchers

The affiliations


Interlinkages between forest policies and policies regulating bioenergy and climate services from forest sector

Sepul Kanti Barua

Dept. of Forest Sciences & METLA


New particle formation in rural areas - what we know and what's still mysterious

Michael Boy

Dept. of Physics  & Finnish Meteorological Institute


Introducing Regional Climate Model REMO, Global and Regional Climate Models

Anca Ioana Heinola

Dept. of Physics & Finnish Meteorological Institute


Advanced analytical methods in the determination of xenobiotics in water samples

Joonas Nurmi

Dept. of Ecological and Environmental Sciences , & Ramboll Analytics


Greenhouse gas balance of Finnish forestry-drained peatlands

Paavo Ojanen

Dept. of Forest Sciences & METLA


The effectiveness and efficiency of traditional and new policy instruments in climate policy, while accounting for imperfect markets.

Kimmo Ollikka

Dept. of Economics and Management & VATT


Soil resources and soil microbial processes in agro-environments - Aiming at improved agricultural practices

Timo Sipilä

Dept. of Bio- and Environmental Sciences & MTT


Aggregate formation and stabilisation in a clayey soil in relation to climatic and management factors

Helena Soinne

Dept. of Applied Chemistry and Microbiology & MTT

Each sub-project is presented in more detail below in the chapter X. The descriptions of the projects include a general analysis on their impacts on the topical issue (global environmental change) and interconnections between projects themselves.  Also, they describe what kind of interdisciplinary relations would be helpful.

Theoretical background of interdisciplinarity

There are quite coherent definitions and understanding of the core concepts of interaction between disciplines. 'A field' or 'a discipline' (used interchangeably here) are defined as a community of researchers with a shared set of questions or problems, addressing some particular knowledge domain. A cognate concept is a specialty. (Huutoniemi et al., 2009: 3.)  However, maybe Klein's definition reflects better how an important issue one's own discipline may be. She defines discipline signifying

"the tools, methods, procedures, exempla, concepts, and theories that account coherently for a set of objects or subjects. Over time they are shaped and reshaped by external contingencies and internal intellectual demands. In this manner a discipline comes to organise and concentrate experience into a particular "world view". (Klein, 1990: 104.)"

'Interdisciplinarity' is widely used in a double role: it is the general concept for all types of collaboration between different fields but also a  particular type of collaboration referring to rather integrate form of collaboration. When researchers from several fields co-operate, the action can be categorised from several viewpoints. Integration of knowledge, methods and even of theoretical paradigm, i.e. terminological hierarchy (Klein, 1990: 55), can be revealed in typology from multidisciplinarity to transdisciplinarity; the scope of research varies between narrow and broad; and interdisciplinary research may have different goals on several levels, namely epistemologically or instrumentally oriented, or mixed of these. (Huutoniemi et al., 2009; Klein, 1990; Bruun et al., 2005.) In this article, we apply the familiar categorisation of integration: multidisciplinarity, interdisciplinarity, and transdisciplinarity, and also refer to the scope of research, i.e. narrow and broad. When we are referring to general interdisciplinarity of research, ID or IDR is applied. *Interdisciplinarity' means clearly the specified category of IDR integration.

Rhoten argues that it is the level graduate education and training, where researchers are prepared for IDR future work. While universities have recognised the need for "stars" (i.e.,  conventional top scientists on highly specialised fields of research), they haven't quite caught up with the need for "connectors" , meaning researchers capable of synthesizing or blending at least the basic methods and core concepts of several fields. This is what needs to be reconsidered in graduate education in universities, because graduate programmes should aim at not only educating expert scientists "in their chosen discipline but to have the broader problem-solving skills requiring learning, unlearning, and relearning across disciplines (Rhoten, 2004: 11)".  

Expertise can be analysed on a continuum from specialism to generalism. On this continuum 'a star' may be seen represents the traditional idea of expertise, specialism, mastering profound and detailed knowledge on a special branch of science. 'A connector' represents for generalistic idea of integrated knowledge from several fields and managing complex web of interrelations and point of views.   Both opposites have their pros and cons: when specialist is an accomplished analyst of a narrow field, she might at the same time be too restricted and easily disconnected from 'real-world-problems' which often  consist of multiple perspectives.   On the other hand, a generalist may understand broad interconnections and unities, but the danger lies in loosing connecting elements  - generalism leads easily to disparate point of views without connecting factors. When at its best generalism grasps the real-worlds problems and possible solutions, it might also end up to a disintegrated collection of differing views. (Cantell et al., 2009.)

Multidisciplinary research

Multidisciplinarity stands for research performed in parallel by researchers from several fields. This means, that researchers or research projects concentrate on their own field autonomously (nearly) without references to other fields - they are stars but not connectors. The only common feature of research may be, for example, a loose topical focus of research problems analysed from juxtaposed perspectives. Also collaboration, which is coordinated in a sequenced but not in a dialog way,  is defined as multidisciplinarity. Here knowledge is transferred between research modules and borrowed from one field to another. Results are integrated only after different modules have completed their tasks. In all these forms of multidisciplinarity, breadth and availability of knowledge is gained but separate voices maintained. (Huutoniemi et al., 2009; Bruun et al., 2005.)

The purpose for multidisciplinarity is that the knowledge base is broadened, even though each field reports its results in a separate way. Also, multidisciplinarity of a research project is easy to prove by pointing out different fields of studies in actual research, its results and/or methods used.


Interdisciplinarity, in turn, involves interaction and collaboration between researchers in the form of combining methods, analysing multiple kinds of empirical material and/or integrating results of several fields. Empirical interdisciplinarity combines empirical data from different disciplines in order to analyse the same phenomenon, methodological interdisciplinarity integrates different methods in a novel way to a shared research problem; and theoretical interdisciplinarity synthesizes concepts, models, or theories from several fields for developing new knowledge and tools for an analysis. As is obvious, form and depth of interdisciplinarity vary remarkably on the basis of which fields and disciplines are interacting - this aspect reflects on scope of IDR.  (Huutoniemi et al., 2009; Bruun et al., 2005; Klein, 1990.) All in all, the goal of interdisciplinary researches is to create an integrated analysis of the complex issue and shared understanding of the problem in hand. Integration aims at holistic end results, or holistic analysis of the complex issue, and logically, a need for individuals capable of holistic analysis and thinking is recognised.


Transdisciplinarity is the deepest form of interaction, breaking the barriers between fields. In the original OECD typology, a unified system of knowledge, theories and methods was denoted. As a result of successful cooperation there should be found a synthesis of several fields into one, namely,  a new knowledge framework. An example of this is Marxism or socio-biology.  (Klein, 1990: 65; Bruun et al., 2005: 30). New connotations have arisen since. For example, an interpretation of  transdisciplinarity as "multilevel coordination of education/innovation system" implicates integration so profound that conceptual and methodological unity can be reached. (Cantell et al., 2009: 7).

Transdisciplinarity takes also place when not just discipline borders have been crossed but also the division between science and society. This connotation was adopted especially in the context of sustainability research and other environmental IDR.   Usually, this also means crossing the line between scientific experts and laypersons. (Hukkinen, 2008: 67; Bruun et al., 2005: 31.) Examples of this type of transdisciplinarity are seen in public policy initiatives, or alternative-journal publications.  In addition of measures for  scientific relevance, validity and  competence, one criterion for a successful research programme is defined by the Academy of Finland as the applicability of research and importance for end-users.  Effectiveness and impact assessment of research has covered not only clearly scientific measures but societal influence as well.  Furthermore, the Academy of Finland in its recent report on the state of Finnish science emphasizes the significance of successful dialogue between scientific experts and the Finns in general - laypersons' trust, appreciation and also knowledge of science and basic research is highly appreciated and seen as a cornerstone for publicly justified and allocated research funding.  Especially in environmental issues laypersons and their role, values and expertise is recognised as meaningful as scientific knowledge and experts. +(+Bruun et al. , 2005;  Suomen Akatemia, 2009.)

Scopes of IDR

IDR varies also in relations of disciplines in questions, i.e. in its scope. 'Narrow interdisciplinarity' emerges between close disciplines with similar methods, paradigm and concepts.  IDR is naturally easier between neighbourly fields. Good examples are the research-partners of anthropology and history, or forest ecology and forest economy. 'Broad interdisciplinarity' emerges when fields are further from each other, e.g., in combining physics and forest ecology, or sociology and environmental law. Broad interdisciplinary integration is complicated because there are great differences in conceptualisation, methodology and in theoretical frameworks.  Finding the common ground for successful integration is, of course, more demanding. (Huutoniemi et al. 2009, Bruun et al, 2005.)

Interdisciplinarity in practice - the example of the research programme GEC

The individual description of the projects by the researchers are presented in this chapter.

The starting point seems to be that the programme of Global Environmental Change  take place is a multidisciplinary collection of separate, juxtaposed projects.

The following questions are raised:

- How does one researcher succeed in providing multidisciplinary research results?

- How to develop one's IDR skills?

-  Many GEC-researchers have a double role---in the department of the university but also in the affiliation outside the university.  Does this have an effect?

- How to build an interdisciplinary research program?

-  What is the experience from the HENVI GEC program regarding the needed elements for interdisciplinary environmental research?

Greenhouse gas balance of Finnish forestry-drained peatlands

Paavo Ojanen

GHG balance project has two aims: I, two improve the understanding of GHG dynamics and its variation in boreal forestry-drained peatlands and II, to estimate the current GHG balance of the forestry-drained peatlands in Finland. As the GHG balance tells how the forestry-drained peatlands act as sinks and sources of GHGs, it provides useful information for those who try to understand and model the dynamics of climate and predict future climate change. On the other hand, the understanding GHG dynamics and underlying carbon cycling are useful tools when considering how climate change will affect the functioning of the forestry-drained peatlands.

This kind of applied science research project needs understanding from several fields of more basic science. The flows of GHGs is pure physics and the many reactions that produce or consume GHGs are in the field of chemistry. The measuring and estimating of gas fluxes is physics. The understanding of sink and source dynamics is often chemistry. As the GHG dynamics of an ecosystem are driven by living things, also understanding of plant physiology and microbiology is necessary. Since climate and weather control the functioning of the ecosystem both diurnally and annually, the understanding of meteorology is valuable.

This project is not directly linked to the other sub-projects. Anyhow, this project provides information on how boreal forest ecosystem affects climate as does Michael Boy's project on the formation of aerosols. The results of this project could possibly be useful to Anca Hienola in her work with regional climate model. When we consider how the GHG balance of forestry-drained peatlands could be taken into account on national level, we come close to Sepul Barua's work on forest, climate service and bioenergy policies.

The REMO model Anca Hienola

The REgional Climate MOdel REMO is a gridpoint model, based on the German "Europa Model" weather prediction model, developed in Max Plank Institute in Hamburg, Germany.  For a more detailed description of REMO, we direct the interested reader to Ref. 1. The newest REMO version, which includes the HAM-M7 aerosol and cloud modules, aims at elucidating the importance of different aerosol and cloud processes at regional and global scales.  Although  the goal of the project might seem  relatively limited,  the possibilities the regional climate model REMO brings  from both scientific and applicability point of view are extensive and are considered  below.

Climate models, either global or regional, are fundamental research tools providing a better understanding of the past, present and future climate. A regional climate model comes as a complement to global models.  By using a finer resolution and covering a limited area, a regional model provides a more detailed study and simulation of local conditions, supplies key input to climate impact studies as well as adaptation planning, and deals with potential problems/solutions related to climate variability and change.  In so doing, regional models can be used as instruments for both research and applications.

Climate is a result of the complex interactions between the atmosphere, cryosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere, fueled by the nonuniform spatial distribution of incoming solar radiation and it varies across a wide range of temporal and spatial scales.   In principle, one needs to encapsulate the huge range of physical processes that are involved in a model, as a complex system of equations that is discretized and solved numerically.  Designing, executing and evaluating a regional climate model is not a one-man job, as it is beyond the scope of a single discipline or area of research practice. It requires bringing together separate disciplinary domains in an interdisciplinary effort that links observations, theory and complex computer-based models of different physical, chemical, and biological processes.

Regional climate models can provide data for a large range of applications: directly for fundamental climate studies (weather forecast, climate and climate change analysis) or indirectly by providing input for impact studies that are of primary interest for stakeholders, such as hydrology, energy, glaciers, agriculture, forestry, air quality, land use, spatial planning, public health. However, the latter implies an active dialog between science providers and science users, consequently enhancing the utility of regional climate models.

(Ref.1) Jacob, D., B. J. J. M. Van den Hurk, U. Andrae, G. Elgered, C. Fortelius, L.P. Graham, S. D. Jackson, U. Karstens, Chr. Koepken, R. Lindau, R. Podzun, B. Rockel, F. Rubel, B. H. Sass, R. Smith and X. Yang (2001): A Comprehensive Model Intercomparison Study Investigating the Water Budget During the PIDCAP Period. Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics, Vol. 77, No. 1-4, 19-44.

Project name: New particle formation in rural areas - what we know and what's still mysterious


Volatile organic carbons (VOCs) and their reaction products can participate in the formation and growth processes of atmospheric particles. Mass-balance-based estimates indicate that approximately half (130-910 TgC/yr) of the global emitted VOCs oxidize to low vapour pressure products and transform into secondary organic aerosols (SOA) (Goldstein and Galbally, 2007). A comprehensive study at 37 field stations in urban and anthropogenically influenced rural/remote areas all over the northern hemisphere showed that a major fraction (18-70 %; average 45 %) of the non-refractory submicron particle mass comprises of organic aerosols (OA) (Zhang et al., 2007). In this publication the authors further claimed that the representation of OA in global models appears to have an overemphasis on primary organic aerosols (POA) and a lack of explicit representation of SOA. A similar conclusion came from a study by the AeroCom (Aerosol Comparisons between Observations and Models) initiative, which compared aerosol simulation across 16 global models; they reported, among other features, that most of the OA in the models are POA and in some models SOA are completely neglected. This is due partly to the lack of understanding about secondary aerosols formed by gas-to-particle conversion and the complexities of organic molecules emitted by the biosphere. The importance of biogenic and anthropogenic precursors for SOA is a major current research topic; however, knowledge of the formation mechanism, composition, particle phase chemistry, and their role in the climate is still extremely limited. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007) concludes that aerosols remain the dominant uncertainty in predicting radiative forcing and that the development of better aerosol parameterisations is perhaps the single most important challenge for the next generation of climate models.  In this context Merikanto and co-workers (2009) presented a global modelling study showing that on a global average about half of cloud condensation nucleus originated from SOA whereas Yu and Luo (2009) even claimed that secondary particles dominate the number abundance in most parts of the troposphere (> 80%). How will future changes in nucleation and growth rates influence the CCN concentrations and, further, the direct and indirect aerosol effect requires intensive studies because of the essential role these mechanisms play in global environmental change.

The project combines several atmospheric relevant fields in a model environment and for this reason the project requires strong cooperation with scientists, who have a strong expertise in plant-biology, meteorology, atmospheric chemistry and/or atmospheric aerosols. Out of the complexity of the biosphere-atmosphere system it is crucial to work multidisciplinary and to bring scientists from different topics together. The global change of our environment can only be stopped or slowed down if we are able to understand the Earth on the whole and are willing to invest more resources in this area of research.

At this time no direct cooperation with any of the other projects funded by HENVI exists although there would be possibilities in the future. However, the connection at this stage is limited for the basic problem of resources and could only be established if new funding would come available. Most of the other projects could have a direct input in the model framework with more or less important effects on the local or global environment and the results of this project could be included to some extend in other projects like the 'Introducing Regional Climate Model REMO, Global and Regional Climate Models'. 

Goldstein, A.H. and Galbally, I.E., 2007, Environ. Science and Technology, 41, 5, 1514 - 1521

Merikanto, J. et al., 2009, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 9, 12999-13037

Yu, F. and Luo, G., Atmos. Chem. Phys. 2009, 9, 7691-7710

Zhang, Q. et al., 2007, Geophys. Res. Lett., Vol. 34, L13801, doi: 10.1029/2007GL029979

Soil resources and soil microbial processes in agro-environments - Aiming at improved agricultural practices (Project 7) Sipilä

Global environmental change has a several potentially beneficial and harmful impacts on Finland's agriculture. According to IPCC scenarios Finland belongs to global region where the climate warming is twice as fast as in average and in the future the winter precipitation is significantly increasing (IPCC Fourth Assessment Report 2007). Winter precipitation potentially leads to a higher winter time erosion rates intensifying eutrophication of waterways (Puustinen et al 2007). These predicted changes require sustainable means for adaptation of agricultural practices. Winter time crop cover in fields protects the soil surface reducing the risk of erosion and nutrient leaching, and improves soil quality by increasing soil organic matter content. However the winter time crop cover, moisture and elevated temperatures might create an optimal condition for growth of fungal pathogens causing increased risk of yield losses and spoilage by fungal toxins. Increased risk of yield lost by plant pathogens will reflect to the use of fungicides by farmers and leading to chemicalization of the agro-environment.  

In the aim of this interdisciplinary research consortium is to join efforts and knowledge of physics, computer sciences, engineering sciences, modelling, microbiology, plant sciences, ecology and soil sciences to development of sustainable agricultural practices that will aid the adaptation of farming to the global environmental change. The project starts as scientific project acquiring data and studying of different agrotechnological tilling methods and how microbial services can be implemented in to development sustainable agricultural practises. At this stage the project almost all connections in project are within natural sciences and some in the formal sciences. Latter on when the results of the project are aimed to implement to practical agriculture cooperation with other fields like social and economical sciences becomes relevant. The development of efficient tools for meditating the results of the project to the practical work of farmers and how to make them change their behaviour for desired social impact should be done in cooperation with social scientist (Economics, Sociologists, Informaticians, etc.). The successful implementation of the project aiming to study and improve agricultural practices will benefit cooperation between several fields of science due to the nature of agriculture that is closely bind to both human culture and nature. For example economical (costs and equipments), natural factors (soil type, plant type, pathogen pressure) and cultural factors (cultivation traditions) will effect to the farmers choice of soil tilling method that further on has a effect on environment.

The Henvi global change program has promoted a novel cooperation between two agrotechnology projects within the program (Project 7 and 8, Table 1). These two projects have a common goal to study and invent sustainable ways to prevent agricultural soil erosion causing the eutrophication of waterways. The discussion of the best ways of cooperation is ongoing and the cooperation might involve sharing of research data, samples and experimental field sites. Potential shared interest could also be found between project 4 that is developing analytical methods for determination of xenobiotics in waters.


IPCC Fourth Assessment Report 2007 (

Puustinen M, Tattari S, Koskiaho J, Linjama J (2007) Influence of seasonal and annual hydrological variations on erosion and phosphorus transport from arable areas in Finland. Soil & Tillage Research 93: 44-55


One of the current concerns in Finland is the increasing risks of nutrient delivery from agricultural fields of southern Finland during wet and warm winters. Nutrients are carried from the fields dissolved in runoff water or detached to eroded soil particles. In structurally unstable soils, soil aggregates may disperse into colloidal-size particles and be transported away in runoff water carrying nutrients. Thus, stability of soil aggregates is the most important property governing soil erodibility. The knowledge on the effect of changing environmental conditions on soil erodibility is important when planning mitigation options for nutrient leaching.

In report reviewing existing information on the interrelations between soil and climate change (ClimSoil 2008), the erosion rates are expected to increase if precipitation becomes more intense and frequent. Furthermore, in the boreal zone, increasing winter temperatures may further increase the potential for erosion because of shorter duration of soil frost and snow coverage. Soil aggregates are formed as a result of physical, chemical and biological processes taking place in soil. In addition to changes in weather conditions, the global environmental change may increase the potential for erosion through changes in biological activity, biomass production and organic matter decomposition. Similarly, soil management practises such as fertilisation, tillage intensity and crop coverage affect soil erodibility. Therefore, the knowledge on the development of agricultural management practices and agricultural policy are also relevant for this study.

The knowledge of the mechanisms behind the aggregate formation and detachment of colloids from aggregates are the key to erosion control. From the start, this research focused mainly on environmental and management induced changes in chemical and physical properties of soil aggregates. However, soil microbiological properties, especially soil fungi, have been found to play an important role in the aggregate formation. The HENVI research program "Global Environmental Change" provides a possibility to collaborate with soil microbiologists working on "Soil resources and soil microbial processes in agro-environments". Combining chemical and physical analyses on soil properties with microbial analyses would increase our knowledge on soil aggregate formation and on the mechanisms behind soil erosion. Sampling from the same experimental fields would produce a wide range of chemical, physical and biological data that would enable formation of more comprehensive concept of the effect of different management strategies on soil properties.

Joonas Nurmi:

Advanced analytical methods in the determination of xenobiotics in water samples

The significant increase in economical welfare during last twenty years has enhanced the use of chemicals tremendously as a part of industrial production, agriculture and everyday life. Term chemicalisation indicates the increased use of chemicals and environmental pollution happening in consequence of that. According the Finnish Environmental Institute over 100 000 chemicals are currently globally used. Since 1960's, attention has been paid to the health effects of chemicals. In addition to impacts on human, chemicals may also harm environment. In recent years especially newish emerging contaminants have gained a lot of interest in the field of environmental research [1-3]. These chemicals are in a way or another related to human activities and many of them are globally used in great amounts. Despite previous research, the knowledge of the concentrations of organic compounds in environment is still limited to few compounds and for even smaller fraction of compounds reliable results of ecotoxicological research are available.

When environmental samples are analyzed, often only certain beforehand chosen regulated compounds are measured. This pre-targeted approach may lead up to very biased information about the general view of sample and the other components of sample remain unknown. Thus, it is most probable that novel contaminants end up environment all the time. To increase worldwide knowledge about pollutants in environment, regular non-targeted measurements need to take place in different locations of the world. Also when novel pollutants are locally found, they should be added to priority lists of potential hazardous compounds and screened in wider surrounds using existing methods.

Objectives of this GEC-subproject is to screen different water samples and identify novel emerging organic pollutants, to develop qualitative and quantitative instrumental tools to analyze these organics in water and to assess the effects of organic pollutants on water system with ecotoxicological research methods. Research concentrates especially on such emerging contaminants which have not yet been studied in Finland.

The methodology of the research is mainly based on the principles of environmental chemistry, strictly speaking environmental analytical and organic chemistry. However, theories of the methods are also strongly bound to physics and mathematics. The chemical analyses itself do not require interdisciplinarity, but if the reasons for the occurrence of chemicals or their fate in environment are studied, chemistry alone cannot answer these questions.

Consequently, when the compounds have been identified and their concentrations are known, the next step is to experimentally assess the potential adverse effects. That for one's part requires ecotoxicological methods and expertise. Without connection between the data measured by chemists and real effects on environment pointed by ecotoxicologists, value of the results will remain insignificant. On the other hand, research of e.g. bioavailability is fairly powerless without the environmental chemistry. So this linkage between chemistry and ecotoxicology definitely needs further strengthening and collaboration between researchers.

In general, environmental analytical chemistry benefits most studies in the field of environmental sciences e.g. remediation, environmental engineering and environmental toxicology. A successful interdisciplinary research related to emerging contaminants would in the future enable the use of the outcomes of the research for example in the fulfilment of acquirements of the REACH-regulation (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) which entered into force on 1st June 2007. It streamlines and improves the former legislative framework on chemicals of the European Union. At this level, in addition to natural sciences even science of law and politics come in on discussion.


1. Richardson SD, 2009. Recent Advances in Environmental Analysis. Anal. Chem. 81: 4601-4622.

2. Derek CG, 2006. Are there other persistent organic pollutants? A Challenge for environmental chemists, Environ. Sci. Technol. 40: 7157-7166.

3. la Farré M, 2008. Fate and toxicity of emerging pollutants, their metabolites and transformation products in the aquatic environment, Trends in Analytical Chemistry 27: 991-1007.

Kimmo Ollikka

The effectiveness and efficiency of traditional and new policy instruments in climate policy, while accounting for imperfect markets.

Refering Wictionary[1|], economics is the study of resource allocation, distribution and consumption. Designing the international and national climate policies it has to be decided, inter alia, what is the target for the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and how much emissions must be reduced (resource allocation) and by whom or in what schedule the reductions must be done (distribution and consumption). Solutions to the great climate change puzzle have features from multiple disciplines from natural and social sciences, also including economics. The field of this sub-project is environmental economics. The research focuses on environmental policy instruments and especially on emissions trading. It is the instrument which aims to distribute the valuable allowances to emit greenhouse gases in the most efficient way, minimising the total cost burden of emission reductions. Emissions trading creates markets for rights to use the clean air, or rights to pollute. But like any market, it may not function as it has planned to. Uncertainty and imperfect competition, for example, can endanger the efficient allocation of resources. The research in this sub-project concentrates on the behaviour of the industrialized firms under the emissions trading and what are the implications for emissions markets of, for example, different market structures (imperfect / perfect competition), market designs (auctioning / free distribution of initial allocation of the emission allowances), connections with other markets (e.g. electricity market) and different aspects of uncertainty.

It is not only the emissions from industry that matters in climate change, it is the total concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This is influenced of course by agriculture, forestry, transport and emissions from urban area. In Global Environmental Change -research programme there are several other projects which are linked with the topics of this project. The discipline of the sub-project by Sepul Kanti Barua is forest economics. However, it is not only the same economic language, the research on these two sub-projects have also connections with substances. The forest policies and policies regulating bioenergy and climate services from forest sector influence the supply of clean fuel substitutes in electricity generation and hence have effect on emissions trading. On the other hand, the carbon credits from different Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) projects can be linked directly to emissions trading markets and the supply of these credits may also influence the behaviour and price development of emissions markets.

The language of economics is money. What are the prices of different goods or what is the value of scarce resources used in different utilizations? The environmental economics itself is an interdisciplinary field. One of its tasks is to translate the value of environmental commodities to the language of the economic system. Sometimes the translation is good enough, sometimes all the relevant attributes of complex ecosystems can not be translated properly. Even if the language (or discipline) in other GEC-programme sub-projects is different from economics, still the climate modelling, new particle formation in rural areas, emissions from forestry-drained peatlands or soil management practices in agriculture have all connections with knowledge about the climate change. This, in turn, has implications for the allocation of emission reduction targets in different sectors in society. And again, in there we find the role for economics in solving the puzzle of climate change.

Interlinkages between forest policies and policies regulating bioenergy and other climate services from forest sector

Sepul Kanti Barua

Climate change is considered as one of the main threats to the earth's environment and humankind. The role of forests in mitigating this phenomenon is being increasingly recognized in national and international policies. This research project adopts a comprehensive approach to analyze the impacts of forest policy tools from the perspective of evaluating forest sector's role in contributing to climate change mitigation and the development of renewable energy sector. The purpose and the contribution of this research are to analyze climate and forest policy impacts together to provide information on possible conflicts and controversial directions of impacts. In a sense, it can be said that this research project aims to connect two fundamental elements of global environment, viz. climate and forests as well as one of the most important and serious changes in it, the climate change. This illustrates the importance of the research project from the point of view of global environmental change.

Further, this research project is important for the very purpose given for it in the preceding section. It can be explained a bit further through the following example. In the Proposal for Climate Action on the Promotion of the Use of Energy from Renewable Sources[2|], the EU aims to set a binding targets of 20% renewable energy use in its overall energy consumption and a 10% binding minimum target for biofuels in transport to be achieved by each member state by 2020. Since forest based biomass together with agricultural biomass constitutes 65% of EU's total renewable energy sources (Summa 2007), those targets cannot be met without a substantial input and contribution from the forest sector. Within Europe there are countries, such as Finland, which will have to rely on forest sector even more heavily than others in trying to meet the climate and energy policy requirements. In this light it is evident that worldwide and especially in EU countries like Finland, the demands for evaluating and strengthening forest policies will be required. Forest policies have to be regarded more and more in relation to policies governing other sectors, most notably the climate (e.g. Valsta 2007) and energy sectors.

This research project focuses on two sets of policies, the forest policies, and the bioenergy and climate policies. It aims to find how these two sets of policies are interlinked with each other, how they could complement each other or if there is any conflict between them in achieving their respective goals. In doing so it looks at the things first from the forestry sector point of view and then from climate and bioenergy point of view. Therefore, it requires understanding from forestry, climate and energy sciences under the broad umbrella of policy and national decision making process.

As evident from above discussion, this research stretches over three major disciplines of education and research, viz. social, life and physical sciences.  The first one comes into play through economics, while the rest two through forestry, and climate and energy sciences, respectively. Although it is a research on economics and policy studies in the end, it has a deep root in natural sciences like forestry and physical sciences like climatology and energy science. Hence it can very much be considered as an inter-disciplinary research, which needs information and collaboration from various disciplines.

This research project has a direct connection to another HENVI-GEC research project of title the effectiveness and efficiency of traditional and new policy instruments in climate policy, while accounting for imperfect markets, which is being carried out by Kimmo Ollikka. Both research projects have one thing common, the climate policy. Further, it could be made connected to another HENVI-GEC research project on variation of total and heterotrophic soil respiration and CH4 and N2O fluxes in Finnish forestry-drained peatlands, which is being carried out by Paavo Ojanen. The connection could come through determining the economic feasibility of draining Finnish peatlands for forestry purposes and analyzing the economics of CH4 and N2O fluxes from them.


[2|] Proposal for a _Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources. Council of the European Union, Brussels 1 January 2008 (2008/0016 (COD)).

Proceeding from multidisciplinarity to interdisciplinarity

Both Rhoten (2004) and Hukkinen (2008) argue that universities are "talking the talk but not walking the walk". Though IDR is appreciated and highly valued in a rhetorical level and new ID labels are adopted, the actual systemic structures or formal requirements of traditional disciplines (e.g.  degree requirements) are neither updated or reformed. On one hand, the prevalent structures are disincentive, if not straight forwardly hindrances for IDR, and on the other hand, new knowledge domains or creative results are harder to achieve without re-designed and IDR supportive structures.  The following reasons for unsuccessful interaction between fields are recognised (Rhoten, 2004: 6):

1. The lack of IDR funding - extrinsic attention

2.  The indifference / hostility of scientists towards working across established boundaries - intrinsic motivation

3. the incompatibility of university incentive and reward structures with interdisciplinary practices - systemic implementation

Rhoten's results show that the first two explanations are often overestimated while the third is underestimated.  Extrinsic attention such as funding has improved remarkably during last years, and also intrinsic motivation of students and researchers toward IDR has strengthened when they have recognised the need and relevancy of IDR. The core problem lies in systemic implementation such as management and structures. (Rhoten, 2004: 9-10.)

Another relatively common error in organizing IDR is that collaborative affiliations are chosen in the phase of research proposal, instead of interacting with those parties who are actually found necessary along the research process.  (Rhoten, 2004: 10.) One type of experiences from HENVI is, that multidisciplinary research funding forms an initiation for actual interdisciplinarity. This relates also well with findings of HERC cooperation (Sorvari et al., 2009). When the first multidisciplinary period of funding (for one research topic) has concluded, it has created the grounds for getting individual researchers to know other fields and other researchers, and only after this step, genuine interdisciplinary ideas are borne. Maybe in this phase, new interdisciplinary research ideas and applications could take place. However, the reality of scientific applications is often the other way around: 

Rhoten's conclusions and implications for fertile interdisciplinary ground include not only   providing long-term funding but  "to have an independent physical location and intellectual direction apart from traditional university departments". This, however, seems rather excessive and costly requirement for most of IDR programmes. Regularly held and participated workshops, series of meetings and other, also partly informal activities might serve this purpose well without excessive extra-funding.  Nevertheless, informal face-to-face communication has observed to have very positive implications when working across disciplines, both nationally and internationally

Concluding remarks/elements

-  Conclusions for practical recommendations: activities etc. Some of the text above may be copy-pasted here?

"The universities that successfully reform themselves to meet the challenges presented by interdisciplinary research will find themselves at the center of what some observers liken to a second scientific revolution. Those who fail will find themselves watching from the sidelines. (Rhoten, 2004: 11)"



Bruun, H., J. Hukkinen, K. Huutoniemi & J. T. Klein (2005) Promoting Interdisciplinary Research: The case of the Academy of Finland _(_Helsinki : Edita Oy).

Cantell, H., J. Pietikäinen, R. Willamo, M. Laakso, S. Nurmi & L. Sjöberg-Tuomi (2009) 'Tieteiden integraatio yliopisto-opetuksessa - esimerkkinä ympäristöalan monitieteinen sivuainekokonaisuus', PedaForum 1: 6-19. In Finnish.

Hukkinen, J. (2008) Sustainability Networks: cognitive tools for expert collaboration in social-ecological systems (London: Routledge Studies in Ecological Economics, Routledge).

Huutoniemi, K., J. T. Klein, H. Bruun & J. Hukkinen (2009) 'Analysing interdisciplinarity: Typology and indicators' Research Policy doi:10.1016/j.respol.2009.09.011

Klein, J.T. (1990) Interdisciplinarity. History, Theory, and Practice (Detroit: Wayne State University Press).

Rhoten. D. (2004) 'Interdisciplinary Research: Trend or Transition', in  Items and Issues (Social Science Research Council)  5: 6-11.

Sorvari, S., P. Tikka, J. Niemelä, K. Raivio & K. Korhonen-Kurki (2009) 'Breaking the boundaries - multidisciplinary environmental research at the University of Helsinki' Boreal Environment Research 14(A): 1-4.

Suomen Akatemia (2009) Suomen tieteen tila ja taso. Suomen Akatemian julkaisuja. [The state and quality of scientific research in Finland 2009 - a summary].

Summa, H. 2007. Bioenergy-EU policy framework and implications for agricultural markets. In: M. Savolainen (ed.). Book of Proceedings. Bioenergy 2007: 3rd International Bioenergy Conference and Exhibition.3-6 September 2007, Jyväskylä, Finland. pp. 17-21.

Valsta. 2007. Sequester or Harvest - the Optimal use of managed forests to mitigate climate change. Research Report No. 46. Department of Forest Economics. University of Helsinki. 23 p.


Our attached files(lightbulb)

  File Modified
Microsoft Word 97 Document First WIKI_version.rtf This attachment is the first Wiki-version of our article. I wanted to save it if relevant piece of information was lost in the second version. 2009-12-28 by Marjukka Laakso
Microsoft Word Document Intstructions for writing.docx The e-mail on instructions for researchers by Kaisa 2009-12-08 by Marjukka Laakso
JPEG File Lammi_GEC.jpg 2009-12-09 by Janna Pietikäinen
JPEG File Lammi2_GEC.jpg 2009-12-09 by Janna Pietikäinen
PDF File Viikki_Workshop_1.pdf 2010-02-02 by Janna Pietikäinen
PDF File Viikki_Workshop_2.pdf 2010-02-02 by Janna Pietikäinen
PDF File Viikki_Workshop_3.pdf 2010-02-03 by Janna Pietikäinen
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  1. Dear all,

    I just attached a new, modified version of our article. It is a bit shorter than the previous one and hopefully more coherent after some minor changes.

    Today is my last day working for HENVI - thank you for all your ideas and cooperation with this article. I am sure we'll be in touch in future, through emails in minimum.(smile)

    All the best,


  2. Dear All,

    Thanks for your papers! I added your writings into middle of the Introductury text, in a chapter Interdisciplinarity in practice - the example of the research programme GEC. Everybody understands that your chapters and the whole text requires now a lot of  revision and re-writing in order to make a paper coherent. We also need to think if the paper is answering the questions given in the begining etc. Although a lot has been done, a lot needs to be done, we are in the middle of the process : ) 

    I recommend you to print this all and read it. You can add your preliminary ideas here in wiki and edit the text if you wish. We will see on 2.2 and continue together !



  3. These were the questions posed:
    From the point of view of global environmental change, why is your  research
    important? Does it improve understanding of global
    environmental change, and if so, how? Why it is important to study
    this specific issue that you are doing?
    - Which fields are the most important links with your research?
    Where and why do you need other fields of sciences in your research?  From which fields would you need more information and/or collaboration of researchers?
    - What are your connections to other sub-projects in this program
    (if there are any, if not, then do not write on this)

  4. Tapaaminen Arppeanumissa 6.5.2010


    -haastatellaan varttuneempia monitieteilijöitä esim. Timo Vesala, Janne Hukkinen

    -haussa vielä monitieteilijä-emeritus/emerita

    -Kaisa tekee kysymykset etukäteen nähtäväksi


    -Kaisa karsii introa

    -Marjukka ja Janna käyvät läpi GEC-tutkijoiden kirjoitukset ja analysoivat

    Marjukka: monitiederyhmän luominen, toiminta, ohjaaminen

    Janna: monitieteisyyden oppimisprosessi

    Nämä pyritään tekemään toukokuun loppuun mennessä.