Development is a human problem and is aimed at changing man and his economic, social, ecological environment. Throughout history, man has acquired new knowledge to shape his future. As human needs multiplied and became more complex, science and technology – processes of systematic inquiry for acquisition and application of knowledge – have been exerting increasing influence on human life, society and the environment. To address the complexity and multiplicity of problems, scientific research has been divided into disciplines by problem areas, and into basic, strategic, applied or adaptive depending on whether the objective is to search for new horizons in knowledge or to adapt a known technology in a different situation. This has facilitated division of labour in knowledge production and application, and contributed to phenomenal increase in output, income and human welfare. In this paper, the limitations of disciplinary research to solve complex problems and the potential role of transdisciplinary research to overcome them are illustrated with the experience of a project.


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