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Chapter 1 Interdisciplinary higher education

Interdisciplinary Higher Education: Perspectives and Practicalities

ISBN: 978-0-85724-371-3, eISBN: 978-0-85724-372-0

Publication date: 8 November 2010


In higher education, interdisciplinarity involves the design of subjects that offer the opportunity to experience ‘different ways of knowing’ from students’ core or preferred disciplines. Such an education is increasingly important in a global knowledge economy. Many universities have begun to introduce interdisciplinary studies or subjects to meet this perceived need. This chapter explores some of the issues inherent in moves towards interdisciplinary higher education. Definitional issues associated with the term ‘academic discipline’, as well as other terms, including ‘multidisciplinary’, ‘cross-disciplinary’, ‘pluridisciplinarity’, ‘transdisciplinarity’ and ‘interdisciplinary’ are examined. A new nomenclature is introduced to assist in clarifying the subtle distinctions between the various positions. The chapter also outlines some of the pedagogical and epistemological considerations which are involved in any move from a conventional form of educational delivery to an interdisciplinary higher education, and recommends caution in any implementation of an interdisciplinary curriculum.


Davies, M. and Devlin, M. (2010), "Chapter 1 Interdisciplinary higher education", Davies, M., Devlin, M. and Tight, M. (Ed.) Interdisciplinary Higher Education: Perspectives and Practicalities (International Perspectives on Higher Education Research, Vol. 5), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 3-28.



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