Interdisciplinary Study for Urban Sciences

Interdisciplinary Study for Urban Sciences

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3683-3.ch004


Behavior of an urban system is dependent on many factors. These factors may be characterized by a different set of parameters. And understanding the complexities of an urban system would not be complete without having knowledge of these parameters. However, they may have associations with different disciplines. Therefore, there is a need to go beyond the boundaries of a discipline to understand the other aspects of a system. It would help in establishing relationship between different aspects of it. That would be significant in developing an understanding to view urban events from the angle of system sciences. However, that is not possible without interdisciplinary studies. Hence, this chapter explains the significance of interdisciplinary study in the context of urban sciences along with the challenges associated with it. Having read this chapter, it is hoped that need of interdisciplinary approach in urban sciences would be clear to the readers.
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The behavior of an urban system is determined by the presence of different attributes. These attributes are characterized by factors which may have different dimensions. Knowledge about these dimensions will enable an urban planner to devise robust urban policies which can monitor and contain the irregularities of a city. In addition, each dimension or attribute of an urban system may be composed of factors possessing varying characteristics. The way these attributes combine each other defines the evolution of a city. So, if we wish to understand the principle which is primarily responsible for evolution of a city, then there should be a sincere effort to understand the characteristics of the factors which is responsible for shaping the characteristics of these attributes. Understanding about the characteristics of these factors would be helpful in identifying the contexts which is responsible for a certain combination of factors. We need to understand that if the pattern of combination of factors changes then the way a city behaves would also change. And there should be some principle which decides about the way factors combine with each other. There should be some principle which is followed by the factors for their interaction with each other. However, without having knowledge about the characteristics of different factors, it would not be possible to understand the principle responsible for their interaction. It also needs to be highlighted at this stage of discussion that lack of knowledge about the principle which drives their interaction process will prevent the idea of sustainable development from becoming a reality. Sustainable urban development can be a possibility if different attributes of an urban system which have significant role in functioning a city can be balanced. Balancing them will require a comprehensive understanding about the factors on which these attributes are dependent. But as mentioned earlier, these attributes are characterized by factors which may have different dimensions. So, it is not possible to understand the complexities of their interaction using a linear approach. Meaning of linear approach in the present context is an attempt to view a situation using the concepts of only one discipline. In fact, it is not possible when there are different factors responsible for shaping an event, and the characteristics of these factors are significantly different from each other. In that case, if the perspective of only one discipline is considered then it suggests that the presence of other factors is ignored. Now, that would be completely faulty approach to study an urban event. So, there is a need of breaking the barriers of disciplines as it would help in understanding the role of different factors in shaping the characteristics of a city in a clearer way.

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