professionals who are strongly grounded in a particular discipline and, having satisfaction in terms of scientific curiosity and recognition by their peers, have become adventurers • professionals who are strongly grounded in a particular discipline and might like to stay in it, but who feel forced to get involved in other disciplines because their own discipline is becoming obsolete and non-marketable • people who had some rather superficial training in one or more disciplines, who now find that they can get work and consequent recognition as generalists • people who have moved into managerial, sales or other essentially bridge positions, but have not been prepared to fulfil a bridge role. He concludes that the first category professionals will tend to be the most active and creative. Category 2 will be less enthusiastic. Category 3 is best used in organisation or marketing rather than project generation or management. Category 4 tend to become “the most serious obstacles” in interdisciplinary research. Strathern (2005) speaks of the current hype surrounding interdisciplinarity and the present requirement in research funding of having to write in interdisciplinarity. She calls this “a perversion of something that could be valuable”. Academics’ interest and energy are “based on hope, based on expectations, on anticipation, and these are all incredibly important human attributes” (p. 134). One of the ways in which innovative research is expected to be possible is by branching out and gathering from elsewhere. So a skill, hope or anticipation that is very valuable is what gets hyped. The hyped version is in consequence almost indistinguishable from the real thing.
Interdisciplinarity: a literature review 30 3.5. Summary The results of the OECD cross-national survey highlighting the origins, motives and goals of interdisciplinarity as is practised in universities were reviewed in this section. The views of other commentators on some of these topics were also discussed. Writings on people engaged in interdisciplinary work and their personal motivations were then reviewed.
Interdisciplinarity: a literature review 31 4. Interdisciplinary teaching and higher education policy “The step from an appealing idea to an operational method is large indeed” (Karlqvist, 1999, p. 379). In the case of interdisciplinarity, finding the idea appealing is one thing, but transferring the idea into pedagogy and teaching requires much more than an understanding of the concept. The literature on various aspects of interdisciplinary teaching – its definition, associated problems associated, goals, curriculum development and teaching methods – are reviewed. Finally three case studies from the US, where interdisciplinary programmes are widely embedded in institutions, are presented.
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