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Hi Paul.

One way of accomplishing this kind of work may be through a concept mapping exercise. It is useful as a methodology for creating a common vision without imposing a monolithic explanation. It is a constructivist methodology for identifying common and
dissimilar issues surrounding a given topic. There has been quite a bit of work done at Cornell on the development of concept maps. A web site I pulled off google (http://users.edte.utwente.nl/lanzing/cm_home.htm) offers this explanation:

What is Concept Mapping ?
Concept mapping is a technique for representing knowledge in graphs. Knowledge graphs are networks of concepts. Networks consist of nodes (points/vertices) and links (arcs/edges). Nodes represent concepts and links represent the relations between
concepts.

 Concepts and sometimes links are labeled. Links can be non-, uni- or bi-directional. Concepts and links may be categorized, they can be simply associative, specified or divided in categories such as causal or temporal relations.

 Concept mapping can be done for several purposes:
        *        to generate ideas (brain storming, etc.);
        *        to design a complex structure (long texts, hypermedia, large web sites, etc.);
        *        to communicate complex ideas;
        *        to aid learning by explicitly integrating new and old knowledge;
        *        to assess understanding or diagnose misunderstanding.

 The concept mapping technique was developed by Prof. Joseph D. Novak at Cornell University in the 1960s. This work was based on the theories of David Ausubel, who stressed the importance of prior knowledge in being able to learn about new concepts.
Novak concluded that "Meaningful learning involves the assimilation of new concepts and propositions into existing cognitive structures".

My belief is that the literature in each of the areas you've suggested often have a number of scholars who debate the particular specification of their perspective on this topic. A process of concept mapping would allow you to identify where the
commonality exists at the concept levels, rather than simply debating particular words.

Have fun and good luck. You can always email me if you'd like to continue this conversation as I'm sure I can find an article or two on the use of concept mapping as a technique to build consensus over a complex/wicked problem.



Timothy R. Huerta, Ph.D.
Faculty of Medicine, Department of Health Care and Epidemiology
University of British Columbia
Initiative for the Study and Implementation of Systems (ISIS)
Centre for Clinical Epidemiology & Evaluation
Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute
725 - 828 West 10th Avenue
Vancouver, BC, V5Z 1L8
Tel: (604) 875-4111 ext 68878
Fax: (604) 875-5179
Email: [log in to unmask]

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