Interdisciplinary Approaches in Solving Riverine Environmental Insults

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Urban and agrarian communities have for centuries depended upon rivers for sustenance, power, crop health, cooling, and as an outlet for waste. The irony is that the sustaining resource was also the recipient of debris, organic byproducts and toxins. The resulting degradation sometimes reflected short term financial gain with little respect for nature and long term consequences. Industry and government, occasionally influenced by grass-roots action, often intervened too late or too little. The end result often left impasses between economists, lawyers, politicians, sociologists, scientists, environmentalists, and the community. These differences often played out in courts and the political field, with arguments about rights, environmental justice, health, and fiscal responsibility. In most cases results yielded long delays in taking corrective action and deeper divisions between concerned parties.

It seems logical that approaches to remedy environmental issues follow an approach bringing industry, government, community and academia together with a longer term goal of sustainability, and economic and community health. Within this approach must be an equally represented subset of disciplinary expertise. Extant contamination and future remediation of our rivers can only be understood and planned for with input from scientists, sociologists, legislators, industrialists, city planners, health professionals, economists, and broad public participation. Representation of the various constituencies and disciplines should not be relegated to a final hearing with “expert witnesses” but instead during earlier multidisciplinary considerations of approach, well before a legal hearing. All too often lines are drawn and separate impacts (read as individual disciplinary responses) are debated. Environmental degradation and solutions will not be found in silos. Instead, formal interdisciplinary discussions must be the core of proposed solutions. It must also be recognized that solutions for problems that have sometimes taken centuries to emerge and have broad impacts across applied disciplines, will take time to resolve, repair, and reveal benefits.


Keywords: Environment, Rivers, Interdisciplinary Solutions
Stream: Natural, Environmental and Health Sciences
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Robert Prezant

Dean, College of Science and Mathematics, Montclair State University
Montclair, New Jersey, USA

Dr. Robert S. Prezant is Dean of the College of Science and Mathematics at Montclair State University holding joint Professorships. His research focuses on marine and aquatic ecology and biodiversity with particular interests the influence of environmental health and its influence on benthic (bottom) invertebrates. His publications have appeared in Journal of Zoology, Science, Marine Biology, Journal of Freshwater Ecology, and many other outlets. He served as President of the American Malacological Society and serves on the New Jersey Marine Science Consortium Board of Directors, the New Jersey Sea Grant Advisory Committee, the Passaic River Institute Steering Committee, and the Liberty Science Center Learning & Teaching Advisory Committee. He also served as Chair of the Habitat and Living Resources subcommittee for the Coastal Research Agenda Coordination and Implementation Committee of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. He was founding editor and for over 10 years served as Editor-in-Chief of the American Malacological Bulletin and has been Editor of several other works.

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