Impact Assessment and Interdisciplinarity: Are we Getting Somewhere?
The field of impact assessment (IA) has long advocated the integrated assessment of different types of impacts. While the term 'integrative' is used more than 'interdisciplinary', the goals advocated in much of the rhetoric surrounding IA cross over with the field of interdiscplinary research. However, the practice of interdisciplinary IA does not yet live up to the rhetoric, with most assessments involving sets of different IA practitioners who have little, if any, connection, communication and synthesis of approach during the IA process. This paper reviews current approaches to interdisciplinary in the field of IA, including the barriers to achieving more meaningful integration of different disciplines in IA. These barriers include the regulatory requirements and voluntary certification programs that largely govern how and why IA is undertaken; the history of development of IA; and the way the methods of IA have been structured. The paper then draws on interdiscplinary theory to suggest ways forward that will enable more integrated assessments while also meeting the practical needs of IA on the ground.
Keywords: Impact Assessment, Interdisciplinary
Research Fellow, Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University