Synthesis in Provence

Published by timdean on

Sacrebleu! I’ve had an abstract on interdisciplinarity and Synthesis accepted for the International Journal of Arts & Sciences conference in Aix-en-Provence in southern France.

It goes a little something like this:

Most would agree that interdisciplinary research (IDR) is oft lauded but relatively little employed in contemporary academia. While the benefits of IDR are widely recognised – such as it yielding new questions, approaches and insights by combining the findings and methodologies of multiple specialist disciplines – there are considerable barriers to effective IDR. These include inherent difficulties in communication between specialist disciplines, challenges securing funding, a lack of journals dedicated to non-specialist research and cultural clashes and power struggles between individuals and departments within institutions and between disciplines. These challenges are compounded by the lack of an overarching framework guiding how IDR is conducted. In this paper, I propose the formation of just such a framework. Where traditional IDR is conducted in a bi-lateral manner, this new framework represents a multi-lateral approach, analogous to a United Nations of IDR. Under this framework, IDR would be driven by specially trained specialist-generalists who are able to communicate and translate between individuals from multiple disciplines, raise new questions to be investigated, bring individuals from disparate disciplines together, help secure funding, and facilitate IDR, outputting it to both specialist journals as well as new journals dedicated to IDR. Such an approach could encourage greater IDR, thus liberating many insights locked away within specialist disciplines to be shared more broadly.

It was a somewhat off-the-cuff initiative, sending an abstract in. But I’ll be in Latvia early May, Turkey for a week after that, goodness knows where for a week after that (attempting to complete a production deadline on Australian Life Scientist remotely), and then this is just after. Figured I’d pop in.

It’s a part of my ongoing sub-obsession with interdisciplinarity and my mad dog idea of how to improve it called Synthesis.

In fact, I had a very motivating meeting with some other interested individuals, including John Wilkins from Evolving Thoughts, on how to make the idea of a massively-interdisciplinary meta-discipline work. I’ll be posting something soon on what was discussed at that meet, and where we’re going next.

So, if you’re in France in the first week of June, do drop in to the conference. I’ll be the chap with the beard and antipodean accent rambling on about having all disciplines hold hands around a tree and cry together, then go get a grant.



Troy Camplin · 4th April 2011 at 9:43 pm

I wish I could be in France for the conference. I think interdisciplinarity is very important. I have written about it here:

And of course on my blog, Interdisciplinary World:

Tim Dean · 6th April 2011 at 11:55 am

Hi Troy. Read that Pope Center piece – great stuff. Seems like we’re on a similar riff.

Troy Camplin · 7th April 2011 at 4:43 am

You might find the interdisciplinary work of Frederick Turner (Natural Religion, The Culture of Hope) and J.T. Fraser (Time, Conflict and Human Values) of interest. Also, Alan Repko wrote a good textbook on interdisciplinary studies.

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