Odum calls not for an interdisciplinary approach but for a new integrative discipline (what he calls “New Ecology”). He argues a holistic approach is as needed as a reductionist one except much more attention has been devoted to the latter. He reasons a reductionist approach is insufficient since as in hierarchical organizations “components are combined to produce larger functional wholes, new properties emerge that were not present at the next level below” (following the Aristotelean dictum that the whole is larger than the sum of its parts—the first working principle of ecology in Odum’s words).
Subsequently Odum calls for greater integration with the social sciences (he cites his father’s work on “regionalism” as a first take on this problem), and between Ecology and Economics (“If subjects were organized according to the derivation of their names, then ecology and economy would be companion disciplines since the words are derived from the same Greek root, with ecology translating as :the study of the house” and economics as “the management of the house.” The disciplines remain poles part on college campuses as well as in the mind of the general public as long as each restricts itself to only a part of the house, nature’s and man’s part, respectively.”) and Ecology and Politics.
His own summary: “To achieve a truly ecosystemic approach, not only ecology, but other disciplines in the natural, social, and political sciences must emerge to new hitherto unrecognized and unresearched levels of thinking and action.”