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Book part
Publication date: 8 November 2010

Martin Davies and Marcia Devlin

In higher education, interdisciplinarity involves the design of subjects that offer the opportunity to experience ‘different ways of knowing’ from students’ core or…

Abstract

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.

Details

Interdisciplinary Higher Education: Perspectives and Practicalities
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-371-3

Book part
Publication date: 8 November 2010

Paul Blackmore and Camille Kandiko

An investigation into the leadership behaviours of academic staff undertaking interdisciplinary research and teaching drew on interviews with 10 senior members of staff at…

Abstract

An investigation into the leadership behaviours of academic staff undertaking interdisciplinary research and teaching drew on interviews with 10 senior members of staff at two research institutions, in the United Kingdom and Australia, in order to illuminate the nature of interdisciplinary leadership. Key terms are defined: disciplinarity, interdisciplinarity, identity, leadership and learning. A model is developed, based on an analysis of the interview data, drawing on Adair's three-part model of leadership, modified for the context. It is proposed that interdisciplinary leadership can be understood as being at the intersection of identity, discipline and learning, and requiring an understanding of all three for effective practice. The model also includes areas of activity: need and opportunity, co-ordination and direction, communication and motivation. The implications for the support of academic staff in such roles are considered. It is suggested that there is value in conceptualising interdisciplinary leadership as the leading of learning.

Details

Interdisciplinary Higher Education: Perspectives and Practicalities
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-371-3

Book part
Publication date: 8 November 2010

Sarjit Kaur and Gurnam Kaur Sidhu

Interdisciplinary higher education is becoming more important in learning across subject boundaries. This is occurring in global, national and institutional contexts. In…

Abstract

Interdisciplinary higher education is becoming more important in learning across subject boundaries. This is occurring in global, national and institutional contexts. In Malaysia, interdisciplinarity is clear in the country's National Higher Education Strategic Plan (2007). While varying interpretations of interdisciplinary learning and teaching exist, there are also commonalities. These common elements address complex problems and focus questions by drawing on the disciplines. They also integrate insights and produce new understandings of complex problems. In this chapter, 21 senior administrators (deans, deputy deans and program chairs) from three public universities in Malaysia were surveyed, and 10 respondents were interviewed to determine their views on their use of the interdisciplinary approach: that is, their level of awareness, their perceptions of interdisciplinarity, and their self-reported level of knowledge of what interdisciplinarity means. The findings showed that 76% of the respondents were aware of interdisciplinarity, and that most respondents had a ‘moderately sufficient’ level of self-reported knowledge about the application of interdisciplinarity in current courses. The interview sessions also revealed that respondents interpreted the interdisciplinary approach in different ways. The implications of the results from this exploratory study suggest that public universities in Malaysia have various obstacles to deal with before effective interdisciplinary learning and teaching can be implemented.

Details

Interdisciplinary Higher Education: Perspectives and Practicalities
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-371-3

Book part
Publication date: 8 November 2010

Tai Peseta, Catherine Manathunga and Anna Jones

Formal programmes designed to develop university teaching and learning are often assumed to be spaces for interdisciplinary learning and exchange. Because such programmes…

Abstract

Formal programmes designed to develop university teaching and learning are often assumed to be spaces for interdisciplinary learning and exchange. Because such programmes bring together academics from a range of different disciplines to learn about university teaching and learning as an academic development activity, it would seem feasible to argue that these spaces for learning, and the learning which results from them, can be characterised as ‘interdisciplinary’. Academic development itself is often thought to be a project that fosters an interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning. This chapter offers a narrative of the way academic development programmes support academics to adopt an interdisciplinary approach to their learning about university teaching and learning. We take graduate certificate programmes in university teaching and learning as the vehicle for our analysis. In doing so, the chapter makes three points. First, that academic development has the potential to be a ‘critical interdisciplinary space’. Second, that it is important for academics to see and experience the Graduate Certificate as an opportunity to develop interdisciplinary learning outcomes. The evidence at present reveals that interdisciplinary learning outcomes for academics feature more as an absent-presence rather than as a conscious decision about curriculum design. Third, the curriculum of graduate certificate programmes needs to have a coherent and theorised account of interdisciplinary teaching and learning embedded in the philosophy and approach of the course.

Details

Interdisciplinary Higher Education: Perspectives and Practicalities
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-371-3

Book part
Publication date: 8 July 2021

Rebecca Bednarek, Miguel Pina e Cunha, Jonathan Schad and Wendy K. Smith

Interdisciplinary research allows us to broaden our sights and expand our theories. Yet, such research surfaces a number of challenges. We highlight three issues …

Abstract

Interdisciplinary research allows us to broaden our sights and expand our theories. Yet, such research surfaces a number of challenges. We highlight three issues – superficiality, lack of focus, and consilience - and discuss how they can be addressed in interdisciplinary research. In particular, we focus on the implications for interdisciplinary work with paradox scholarship. We explore how these issues can be navigated as scholars bring together different epistemologies, ontologies and methodologies within interdisciplinary research, and illustrate our key points by drawing on extant work in paradox theory and on examples from this double volume. Our paper contributes to paradox scholarship, and to organizational theory more broadly, by offering practices about how to implement interdisciplinary research while also advancing our understanding about available research methods.

Details

Interdisciplinary Dialogues on Organizational Paradox: Investigating Social Structures and Human Expression, Part B
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80117-187-8

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 8 November 2010

Meaghan Botterill and Barbara de la Harpe

Working in interdisciplinary teams is recognised as fundamental to contemporary workplaces in the knowledge economy. Current research across the disciplines clearly shows…

Abstract

Working in interdisciplinary teams is recognised as fundamental to contemporary workplaces in the knowledge economy. Current research across the disciplines clearly shows that working successfully in interdisciplinary teams is associated with increased productivity, improved outcomes, higher levels of creativity and enhanced personal fulfilment. But why is there a perception that it is hard to work in such teams in higher education contexts, and what does it take to work successfully in an interdisciplinary team? In this chapter we use embedded intergroup relations theory as a way of conceptualising the tensions and complexities that exist within interdisciplinary teams in universities. We draw on the constructs of group membership, parallel processes, group boundaries, power differences, affective patterns, cognitive formations and leadership behaviours to deconstruct why working in interdisciplinary teams often challenges academic identities, cultures and contexts. We then consider the core factors that underpin successful interdisciplinary teams, based on a synthesis of the work in the fields of social sciences, organisational behaviour, education, health and psychology. Understanding the complexities of working in interdisciplinary teams within universities provides insights into how to facilitate positive outcomes for all involved in interdisciplinary teamwork.

Details

Interdisciplinary Higher Education: Perspectives and Practicalities
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-371-3

Book part
Publication date: 4 December 2012

Dorte Madsen

Purpose — The chapter discusses the challenges of developing a three year bachelor's programme in information management. The argument focuses on creating a programme that…

Abstract

Purpose — The chapter discusses the challenges of developing a three year bachelor's programme in information management. The argument focuses on creating a programme that (1) facilitates cooperation with the business community, (2) represents a coherent whole that fosters student identity and (3) provides an explanatory framework for information management.

Design/methodology/approach — A model for curriculum development is presented which takes its starting point in the business community's perception of the graduates’ future practice. Interdisciplinary theory, and its continuum of integration from multidisciplinarity to interdisciplinarity to transdisciplinary is applied as the backbone of the programme structure, and its role in creating progression is discussed, together with the importance of problem-oriented work, and the interplay between problem-based and discipline-based elements of the programme. The information management programme distinguishes between ‘information management’ as an umbrella term for the whole programme and ‘information management’ in a more narrow and discipline-specific perspective rooted in information science.

Findings — It is shown how the programme elements (projects, internship, semester themes and courses) are combined so that each single element contributes to gradually build up a holistic view of information processes and practices in organisations. The underlying structure of the programme contributes to a coherent, theoretically based explanatory framework for information management.

Practical implications — The chapter describes benefits and challenges of interdisciplinary curriculum development and may be provide inspiration for curriculum developers.

Originality/value — Interdisciplinary theory may be useful to respond to the challenges of engaging several disciplines in the information management field. It is suggested that multidisciplinarity may be supplemented or replaced by more interdisciplinary approaches in the future.

Details

Library and Information Science Trends and Research: Europe
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78052-714-7

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 5 February 2016

Séverine Louvel

This paper analyses French and US universities’ organizational responses to the more or less explicit pressures they face to go interdisciplinary. Defining universities as…

Abstract

This paper analyses French and US universities’ organizational responses to the more or less explicit pressures they face to go interdisciplinary. Defining universities as pluralistic organizations, I show that the implementation of interdisciplinary research does not result in well-integrated institutional strategies, but rather combines initiatives from the scientific community and from university leaders. Based on case studies conducted on the development of interdisciplinary nanomedicine in five leading French and US research universities, I identify three settings where the implementation of interdisciplinarity involves shifts in organizational structure – in principal investigator-based research teams and scientific networks, in departmental boundaries, and in institutional structures, and question issues of governance, leadership and resource allocation arising from those shifts. We see similarities between the two countries in terms of how initiatives by “entrepreneurial academics” – searching for funds for interdisciplinary research – and by the university leadership – also searching for funds, and redefining institutional projects around interdisciplinarity – complement each other. We also identify one major difference – with French pro-interdisciplinary university policies being strongly influenced by a political impetus from the French ministry of higher education and research.

Article
Publication date: 21 December 2021

Lykke Brogaard Bertel, Maiken Winther, Henrik Worm Routhe and Anette Kolmos

Problem-based learning (PBL) has been suggested as an approach to education for sustainable development (ESD); however, the integration of interdisciplinarity is…

Abstract

Purpose

Problem-based learning (PBL) has been suggested as an approach to education for sustainable development (ESD); however, the integration of interdisciplinarity is continuously challenged as it requires transfer and collaboration across disciplinary boundaries, as well as integration into an often already-overflowing curriculum. Even in formalized PBL universities emphasizing student responsibility for defining relevant problems, envisioning sustainable solutions and developing transversal competences, interdisciplinary collaboration is still often “relocated” to extra-curricular activities. This paper aims to explore Aalborg University (AAU) Megaprojects as a case for systematically integrating principles of ESD, and particularly interdisciplinarity, into PBL at scale.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper proposes a framework for analysing potentials and challenges concerning interdisciplinary framing and facilitation in large-scale projects based on PBL- and ESD-related research and presents findings from a case study on the first three rounds of megaprojects at AAU in 2019 and 2020.

Findings

The findings indicate that interdisciplinary megaprojects have the potential to motivate students to engage in sustainable development; however, they require systematic framing and guided facilitation, particularly in the early stages, for students to take ownership, prioritize collaboration and see the contribution to and connection between disciplines. They also need prioritization at all institutional levels to succeed as an institutional strategy of ESD.

Originality/value

The paper provides insights into the potentials and challenges of framing and facilitating large-scale megaprojects as an approach to integrate the SDGs and interdisciplinary collaboration into higher education. Hence, it aims to provide new insights, concepts and practices for ESD and PBL for sustainability.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 23 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 3 August 2021

Shiji Chen, Yanhui Song, Junping Qiu and Vincent Larivière

This study explores whether interdisciplinary components' citation intensity (ICCI) affects papers' scientific impact. In this study, the term “interdisciplinary

Abstract

Purpose

This study explores whether interdisciplinary components' citation intensity (ICCI) affects papers' scientific impact. In this study, the term “interdisciplinary components” refers to the disciplines that are different from the discipline to which the target research belongs. The citation intensity is the degree of density or sparseness of the paper citation network for a discipline. Previous studies have shown that the scientific impact of interdisciplinary research is influenced by interdisciplinarity and its properties, namely, variety, balance and disparity. However, the effect of ICCI on scientific impact has not been comprehensively explored.

Design/methodology/approach

This study is based on the entire publication database of the Web of Science for the year 2000, where the authors provide an indicator to measure the ICCI of each publication. A tobit regression model is used to examine the effect of ICCI on scientific impact, controlling for a range of variables associated with the characteristics of the publications studied.

Findings

The results show that ICCI has a positive effect on scientific impact. The authors’ results further point out that ICCI displays a curvilinear inverted U-shape relationship with scientific impact. It means that including more citation-intensive interdisciplinary components can increase the scientific impact of interdisciplinary research. However, excessive use of citation-intensive interdisciplinary components may reduce the scientific impact of interdisciplinary research.

Originality/value

This study shows that, in addition to interdisciplinarity, the scientific impact of interdisciplinary research is also affected by the citation characteristics of interdisciplinary components, namely ICCI.

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