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Paradigm -- philosophical and theoretical framework of a scientific school or discipline within which theories, laws, and generalizations and the experiments performed in support of them are formulated; broadly : a philosophical or theoretical framework of any kind (Merriam-Webster online dictionary)
Philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn gave this word its contemporary meaning when he adopted it to refer to the set of practices that define a scientific discipline during a particular period of time. Kuhn defines a scientific paradigm as:
what is to be observed and scrutinized,
the kind of questions that are supposed to be asked and probed for answers in relation to this subject,
how these questions are to be structured,
how the results of scientific investigations should be interpreted.
Alternatively, the Oxford English Dictionary defines paradigm as "A pattern or model, an exemplar". Thus an additional component of Kuhn's definition of paradigm is:
how is an experiment to be conducted, and what equipment is available to conduct the experiment.
Paradigm shifts tend to be most dramatic in sciences that appear to be stable and mature, as in physics at the end of the 19th century. At that time, physics seemed to be a discipline filling in the last few details of a largely worked-out system. In 1900, Lord Kelvin famously stated, "There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement." Five years later, Albert Einstein published his paper on special relativity, which challenged the very simple set of rules laid down by
In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), Kuhn wrote that "Successive transition from one paradigm to another via revolution is the usual developmental pattern of mature science." (p.12) Kuhn's idea was itself revolutionary in its time, as it caused a major change in the way that academics talk about science. Thus, it caused or was itself part of a "paradigm shift" in the history and sociology of science.
Philosophers and historians of science, including Kuhn himself, ultimately accepted a modified version of Kuhn's model, which synthesizes his original view with the gradualist model that preceded it. Kuhn's original model is now generally seen as too limited.
Adaptive management through information exchange wherein forest practitioners work more closely with forest researchers.
Transnational collaboration as well as transdisciplinary collaboration may be required.
The Northwest Environmental Forum is being designed as a collaborative meeting and work space to bring together decision makers and stakeholders to apply scientific and policy information to address critical environmental and natural resource management issues. Potential users will include resource and environmental agencies; energy, forest, agriculture, and real estate interests; and land conservancies, environmental groups, tribes, and NGOs. Five core functions describe the Forum:
Decision Making. Stakeholders and decision makers can discuss complex and often contentious issues in a neutral and science-rich setting. The flexible meeting spaces will support breakthrough discussions with scientists, decision support tools, presentation and data visualization technologies, and groupware. Clients will be able to compare ideas and alternative solutions, better understand and weigh trade-offs, and move toward resolution of complex issues.
Collaborative Analysis. Scientists and policy staff will collaborate on research and analytical work that supports decision making. Spaces and tools will be arrayed so workers can organize their ideas and thoughts. Experts from diverse organizations will be able to participate directly and use advanced analysis and data displays and sophisticated information modeling tools.
Information Repository. Complex projects need access to multiple databases and other information that often exist at dispersed locations. By providing on-line access to information, the Forum will be a centralized information access site to enable teams and individuals to acquire, process, and store information. Quick and virtual access to information will enable scientists and policy makers to question, analyze, and identify potential solutions.
Educational Observatory. Forum space will have access for classroom interaction and student participation and work. Virtual access to environmental and natural resources projects will provide teaching, research, and project opportunities. Collaborative work by participants will afford new learning space and opportunities for innovative teaching and research applications.
Research Aimed at Long-Term Solutions. The collaborative working partnership will integrate knowledge into political deliberations. Information gaps and research needs for future decisions will be identified. Research and teaching opportunities will quickly emerge.