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E&S Home > Vol. 23, Iss. 4 > Art. 38 > Abstract Open Access Publishing 
Harnessing local knowledge for scientific knowledge production: challenges and pitfalls within evidence-based sustainability studies

Johannes Persson, Department of Philosophy, Lund University
Emma L. Johansson, Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science, Lund University
Lennart Olsson, Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies, LUCSUS


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The calls for evidence-based public policy making have increased dramatically in the last decades, and so has the interest in evidence-based sustainability studies. But questions remain about what “evidence” actually means in different contexts and if the concept travels well between different domains of application. Some of the most relevant questions asked by sustainability studies are not, and in some cases cannot be, directly answered by relying on research evidence of the kinds favored by the evidence-based movement. Therefore, sustainability studies must also harness other forms of knowledge, based on forms of practical experience. How to integrate these two sources of knowledge is one of the most fundamental epistemological and practical problems society is facing. Identifying what kind of practical experience and research evidence we need to integrate is another challenging question. We draw on examples from our research in the Global South and suggest an efficient principle, problem-feeding, for harnessing practical experience within an adapted version of evidence-based sustainability studies.

Key words

evidence-based conservation; evidence-based policy; indigenous knowledge; local knowledge; participatory art; problem-feeding; sustainability studies

Copyright © 2018 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087