People talk about interdisciplinarity, but will we ever really do it?

Posted in Research on November 1st, 2016 by steve

Scotland“During my first year as a lecturer in 1981 I attended a workshop on ‘the protection of academic disciplines’. The event had been organised by a group of academics from various subject areas who wanted to draw attention to the risk, as they saw it, of scholarship and knowledge being put at risk by an obsession with interdisciplinary studies and research …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 31 October]

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On Interdisciplinarity

Posted in Research, Teaching on April 3rd, 2014 by steve

“On perusing some documentation in advance of a staff meeting recently, I noticed a suggestion that interdisciplinary degree programs should be used as an ‘output’ in their own right …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 3 April]

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Interdisciplinary research: why it’s seen as a risky route

Posted in Research on February 19th, 2014 by steve

“‘So, what subject’s your PhD in?’ It’s a normal enough question in social situations: people just trying to make conversation and ask an obvious question with an easy answer. For me, though, there’s usually a bit of an awkward silence while I try to come up with a short and not-too-confusing response …” (more)

[Sarah Byrne, Guardian Professional, 19 February]

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Why Disciplines Are Becoming Less Important

Posted in Research on July 23rd, 2013 by steve

“Are disciplines becoming less important? I think they are. Universities are gradually changing how they operate as disciplines become less central to the construction of knowledge …” (more)

[Nigel Thrift, Chronicle of Higher Education, 23 July]

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Making Research Matter: The Academy Versus Real-World Problems

Posted in Research on September 5th, 2012 by steve

“… the disciplinary structure of the academy largely excludes the kinds of collaborations that are needed to produce research that matters. While attempts at interdisciplinarity have prompted many advances, the cumulative impact on how much our research matters beyond the gates of our own campuses is underwhelming …” (more)

[Patricia Leavy, Huffington Post, 4 September]

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CAO and the like

Posted in Teaching on August 31st, 2012 by steve

“There has been a lot of heat around this summer, not climatically – at least here – but in the media regarding points, skills acquisition, language, appropriate degrees etc. Long used to there been a proliferation of expertise regarding such matters in my own field of criminal justice, I am somewhat bemused to hear Morning Ireland journalists and others now quite adept at conversations regarding the merits of project maths …” (more)

[Caroline Fennell, creative Head space, 31 August]

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Teaching on an interdisciplinary degree program

Posted in Teaching on January 15th, 2012 by steve

“For all my career I’ve taught on an interdisciplinary degree program – the BSc in Biotechnology at DCU. Our program  contains about 35% mathematical material (chemical engineering and maths) and the rest is biology of all kinds. Getting the level of material right is a recurring challenge for the lecturer …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 15 January]

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A refreshing interdisciplinary experience

Posted in Research on September 7th, 2011 by steve

“… I am not making a groundbreaking observation here, but jargon is the true barrier between disciplines. Yes, there are different methodologies, different texts, different aims. But the real problem when approaching academic work outside your discipline is vocabulary. If someone would provide a dictionary of literary criticism and theory perhaps there is one then I might stand a chance …” (more)

[Juliana Adelman, Pue’s Occurrences, 7 September]

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Living and learning between disciplines

Posted in Research on June 9th, 2011 by steve

“But what would we make of Leibniz today? Would we admire his eclectic scholarship, or would we suspect him of dumbing everything down? Would we see him as the typical modularisation project, with all its benefits and risks? One of the key questions in higher education over the past decade or two has been about the desirability or otherwise of academic interdisciplinarity …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 9 June]

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Academic themes

Posted in Research on August 5th, 2009 by steve

Ireland“At a recent diplomatic reception that I attended a senior public servant offered the following comment to me: ‘You guys [and I think he meant academics] are so caught up in your abstract studies and disciplines that you can’t really say anything useful to the rest of us.’ Well, of course I didn’t agree with him, but whether his comment had any merit isn’t my point here. Rather, I wonder whether perhaps we need to make it more obvious that we do concern ourselves not just with interesting but obscure abstractions, but also with precisely the issues that will determine economic prosperity and social stability …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 5 August]

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Multidisciplinary research – an essential driver for innovation

Posted in Research on June 27th, 2009 by steve

Australia“For 2000 years, the advancement of knowledge in western civilization has taken a path of increasing specialization. We have approached understanding our world by deconstructing it into smaller and smaller fragments creating the disciplines and subdisciplines in order to be able to predict, or at least to explain, behaviour in nature, individuals, and society. In today’s knowledge landscape there are powerful drivers for multidisciplinary research …” (more)

[Jill Trewhella, GlobalHighEd, 26 June]


Restructuring Universities and the Two Cultures

Posted in Governance and administration on June 3rd, 2009 by steve

USA“A bit over a month ago, Mark C. Taylor – chair of the Religion Department at Columbia, and one of the most prominent philosophers of religion in the US – published an Op-Ed for the New York Times titled ‘The End Of The University As We Know It’. The essay created a buzz on the blogosphere (unfortunately almost only there) and produced different reactions, from complete agreement to hostile opposition. The core of the essay has been summarized well by Dan Coleman at Open Culture Blog: ‘Taylor proposes six ideas: 1) Getting rid of free-standing academic departments and making academic work cross-disciplinary, 2) developing multi-disciplinary programs that focus on “real” problems …’…” (more)

[Hypertiling, 3 June]


Does interdisciplinarity destroy academic freedom?

Posted in Research on April 24th, 2009 by steve

Ireland“Here’s an interesting item: Thomas Docherty, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Warwick, has trained his guns at what he describes as the ‘new fashion’ of interdisciplinarity. Well, I suppose it all depends on what you consider to be ‘new’. As I argued in one of the early posts in this blog, you could say that in earlier ages almost all scholarship was interdisciplinary; and a spectacular example of an intellectual devoting himself to interdisciplinarity was Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, born 362 years ago. In fairness, I think that Thomas Docherty has a more specific target …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 24 April]

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OECD: Head attacks university ‘conservatism’

Posted in Governance and administration on April 5th, 2009 by steve

EU“Traditional university faculties are too conservative and are standing in the way of progress as Europe’s education system struggles to become more innovative, the head of the OECD’s Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, Professor Dirk Van Damme, told a European Policy Centre debate last Tuesday. Van Damme said the current system of dividing knowledge into faculties should be broken up if Europe was to move to a new education system capable of equipping students with critical skills. ‘We should abolish faculties in universities. Faculties are the most conservative bulwarks against change. Europe must move to a radically different trans-disciplinary approach. Most of the interesting things happen on the boundaries of the discipline,’ he said …” (more)

[University World News, 5 April]

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Who’s Your Academic Buddy? New Study Suggests How Fields Are Intertwined

Posted in Life on March 18th, 2009 by steve

USA“University leaders often talk about the need to break down academic silos on campuses, but they don’t necessarily have a good road map for doing it. A study led by researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory may have now provided them with one. The researchers tracked the usage patterns at thousands of online scientific journals to see when a reader looking at an article in one academic field moved over to an article in another academic field. The researchers then compiled that data to make a detailed graphical chart showing the interconnected relationships between the various academic fields …” (more)

[Paul Basken, Chronicle of Higher Education, 17 March]