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Enabling university educators to equip students with inter- and transdisciplinary competencies

Antonietta Di Giulio (Program Man-Society-Environment (MGU), Research Group Inter-/Transdisciplinarity, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland)
Rico Defila (Program Man-Society-Environment (MGU), Research Group Inter-/Transdisciplinarity, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 3 July 2017

Abstract

Purpose

Inter- and transdisciplinarity are core concepts in almost all education for sustainable development (ESD) competence frameworks and curricula. To equip students with inter- and transdisciplinary competencies is highly demanding for educators. Educators must not only know how to teach students such competencies, but need to be experienced in inter- and transdisciplinary research and must have some technical knowledge about inter- and transdisciplinarity. This paper aims to show how university educators can be supported in their teaching.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is a case study based on research and on experiences in interdisciplinary teaching and in supporting educators in their interdisciplinary teaching.

Findings

The paper presents a competence framework of interdisciplinary competencies to guide university teachers that has been developed, implemented and refined in interdisciplinary study programmes belonging to the field of ESD. It shows how the professional development of educators could be addressed referring to the experiences in these programmes. The measures presented consist for one thing of interdisciplinary processes among the educators and of measures directly supporting educators in their teaching for another thing.

Originality/value

The case study the paper refers to is of special value, first, because the experiences are based on long-standing research and on two decades of experiences. Second, because considerable efforts were made to deliver coherent and consistent interdisciplinary teaching in which interdisciplinarity was not only a teaching subject for the students but showed by the educators as well so that the educators involved did not only talk about competencies for inter- and transdisciplinary collaborations but also set an example in their own doings.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their most valuable comments on the paper.

Citation

Di Giulio, A. and Defila, R. (2017), "Enabling university educators to equip students with inter- and transdisciplinary competencies", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 18 No. 5, pp. 630-647. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-02-2016-0030

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited