Researching Tourism to the Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia, or how the Social Sciences can Collaborate in Researching Complex Problems
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There is an increasing recognition that development can bring with it complex problems, particularly when social and natural systems interact. This paper explores research methodologies that address such problems by utilising and integrating expertise from a number of different disciplines, and discusses how the social sciences can contribute. It does this by firstly analysing existing research methodologies and then through a detailed discussion of a research project that addresses sustainable tourism planning to the Ningaloo Coast, a remote tourist destination in Western Australia whose major attraction is a 300 kilometre long fringing coral reef. The paper identifies four features that are likely to become widespread within research projects that address issues of sustainable development: a common understanding of the dynamics of systems aimed at addressing complexity; an encouragement of group learning through collaboration; a pragmatic approach that aims to address problems facing managers and affected groups; and the incorporation of different disciplines as needed to address problems. The paper concludes by identifying how the social sciences can both be equipped to engage with large research projects that integrate a number of disciplines and strengthen such research approaches
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