Interdisciplinarity: What, Why, How and Who?
IDN was established in 1999 with one aim: to reinvigorate interdisciplinary dialogue. After several successful years of fostering interdisciplinarity through the organization of conferences and research projects, IDN is now turning its attention and experience to another aspect of the same work: exploring the nuts and bolts of the processes of interdisciplinarity.
We need to delve into the distinctions between inter-, multi-, cross- and trans-disciplinarity. In medicine, for example, “multi-disciplinary team meetings” are an important aspect of patient care, but all the disciplines involved have a medical focus – spiritual and/or emotional care, including art and self-expression, are considered outliers in the healing process. In academia, on the other hand, “trans-disciplinarity” often holds the connotation of being neither fish nor fowl – the significance of its scholarly concentration or application is often unclear and imprecise.
This project, which is central to the organization as a whole, is envisaged as a multi-year venture. During the first year, we will begin to work towards definitions of the topic and the development of research methodologies. The second year will build on the first, and then extend its exploration into the topic of interdisciplinary teaching and learning. The third year will begin to look at applications of interdisciplinary thinking in a more global sense. For example, how might an interdisciplinary mindset affect and bring about social transformation?
The 1st Global Conference on Interdisciplinarity will investigate the topic from a broad spectrum of methodological approaches. Interdisciplinarity is too complex a phenomenon to be defined in a prescriptive manner. Therefore, we are putting out a Call for Presentations from practitioners, academicians and professionals working in:
• Education at any level (primary through tertiary and post-graduate; vocational training)
• Health care (including mental health, chronic illness, elderly care, end-of-life care)
• Care of people with disabilities (including special needs children)
• Government and NGOs
• Economics and business
• Religion and spirituality
We have identified several questions for this preliminary set of discussions. This gathering will have a primarily dialogical cast. Participants are required to submit an abstract of 500 words outlining a specific topic or line of inquiry. Rather than presenting papers, participants will be chosen in terms of developing a comprehensive blend of interdisciplinary intersections for examination and review. Our aim is to extend our reach as widely as possible.
Accordingly, we are particularly interested in abstracts that address the following issues:
• What does interdisciplinarity mean?
• How is it to be understood as distinct from trans-disciplinarity, multi-disciplinarity, cross-disciplinarity?
Questions of Value
• How can we ‘make the case’ for interdisciplinary research: to our colleagues, our institutions, within our own disciplines, to funding sources?
• How can interdisciplinary work be validated in terms of tenure, publications, presentations, annual reports, etc.?
• How does one present to an interdisciplinary group?
• How does one present inter-disciplinarity to a group that is not used to inter-disciplinarity?
• How does one establish an interdisciplinary mindset within one’s own context?
• Demonstrating success stories highlighting the value of interdisciplinary work
Inter-Disciplinary Methodologies: How To…
How to do interdisciplinary research
• How is research done in different disciplines: a comparative guide
• Why do different disciplines do research: what is the motivation for each discipline, what is the goal or perceived gain?
• General how-to techniques/strategies/processes/projects
• How to build bridges between academia and practitioners
How to do Interdisciplinary Reviewing
• How to establish methodologies, frameworks, quality standards and assessment guidelines for evaluation of interdisciplinary work
a. Retaining the quality of discussion: maintaining both “rigour and vigour”
• How to foster a formal dialogical component in inter-disciplinary studies
Delving Questions (to get at the methodological issues)
• How to deal with different premises/conceptual assumptions/cultural relativism when working across disciplines?
• What does ‘history’ mean from the standpoint of different disciplines? A ‘historical analysis’ has often meant looking at a concept from the standpoint of economics or sociology (for example). Is history an explanation, an analysis, a critique, a linear overview, a matter of perspective and/or privilege, or ?
• How do different disciplines deal with questions of ethics?
• For different disciplines, how might each begin to move away from academic dominance: how to build bridges beyond the academy, fostering or balancing involvement between academicians and practitioners
Managing Interdisciplinary Conflict
• Combatting territoriality
• How to avoid domination by any one discipline
• Looking at intersectionality: how different forms of oppression/privilege/bias intersect and affect research
• Re-valuing anarchy: allowing a certain amount of methodological anarchy to enliven old structures of thought
• Letting academia and practice be infused by the spirit of art: what is ‘interdisciplinary art’? [Analogy to how art is often multi-media]
The Future(s) of Interdisciplinarity
• How to widen the scope for interdisciplinary output: beyond print-based media; looking at more media-rich vehicles/venues
• Finding a metaphor for inter-disciplinarity
Call for Cross-Over Presentations
The Interdisciplinary Research Methods project will be meeting at the same time as a project on Torture. We welcome submissions which cross the divide between both project areas. If you would like to be considered for a cross project session, please mark your submission “Crossover Submission”.
What to Send
300 word abstracts, proposals and other forms of contribution should be submitted by Friday 9th October 2015.
All submissions be minimally double reviewed, under anonymous (blind) conditions, by a global panel drawn from members of the Project Team and the Advisory Board. In practice our procedures usually entail that by the time a proposal is accepted, it will have been triple and quadruple reviewed.
You will be notified of the panel’s decision by Monday 19th October 2015.
If your submission is accepted for the conference, a full draft of your contribution should be submitted byFriday 5th February 2016.
Abstracts may be in Word, RTF or Notepad formats with the following information and in this order:
a) author(s), b) affiliation as you would like it to appear in programme, c) email address, d) title of proposal, e) body of proposal, f) up to 10 keywords.
E-mails should be entitled: Interdisciplinary Research Methods Abstract Submission
Where to Send
Abstracts should be submitted simultaneously to both Organising Chairs:
Nancy Billias: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rob Fisher: email@example.com
This event is an inclusive interdisciplinary research and publishing project. It aims to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore various discussions which are innovative and exciting.
All papers accepted for and presented at the conference must be in English and will be eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook. Selected papers may be developed for publication in a themed hard copy volume(s). All publications from the conference will require editors, to be chosen from interested delegates from the conference.
Inter-Disciplinary.Net believes it is a mark of personal courtesy and professional respect to your colleagues that all delegates should attend for the full duration of the meeting. If you are unable to make this commitment, please do not submit an abstract for presentation. Please note: Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence.
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