Being Practical?

Posted by Edward Willatt on Friday, April 12, 2013 Under: Interdisciplinary

Is being ‘interdisciplinary’ an entirely practical thing?  Conferences and books that cross disciplines aim to practice interdisciplinary.  They do not theorise but engage in interdisciplinary activities.  They find places where disciplines meet or can potentially meet in tackling a problem or thinking about an object.

There are interdisciplinary centres which seek to represent this work and challenge the pressure of specialisation which creates ever higher boundaries and exclusive domains of terminology.  These are also practical affairs which stage ‘interdisciplinarity’ through their conferences and publications.  These interdisciplinary spaces are supposedly cleared of the marks of particular disciplines, of the founding concepts of any particular field.  This means that the activity which takes place in these spaces has the potential to be radically new, to initiate conceptual shifts that arise because disciplinary concepts meet in a space that is not already marked out by the foundational concepts that give particular disciplines their shape.    

Yet how is this activity organised?  When interdisciplinary research throws up titles such as ‘Managing trust – Making interdisciplinary research teams work’ and ‘Best practice of interdisciplinary research: lessons from the history of biology’ it seems that interdisciplinary studies is concerned with managing the relations between the disciplines.  It seems to me that in seeking to be purely practical in our approach to the interdisciplinary we smuggle certain theories into the space of praxis.  Theories of management and organisation structure the spaces which are supposedly interdisciplinary.  It is this meta-discipline that dominates when we seek to clear the ground for interdisciplinary practices.

Architectonics raises the problem of the foundations (or lack of foundations) of knowledge in order to re-think, rather than simply manage, interdisciplinary activities and forms of knowledge.  It must answer its own questions about whether it structures the space of the interdisciplinary by examining its own conceptual foundations and the methods which are founded upon them.  However, its major strength in this regard is to be self-critical.  It does not to claim to be theory neutral and concerned to merely ‘facilitate’ practice like those who seek to manage the change that can occur when disciplines meet. 

In : Interdisciplinary 



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Being Practical?

Posted by Edward Willatt on Friday, April 12, 2013 Under: Interdisciplinary

Is being ‘interdisciplinary’ an entirely practical thing?  Conferences and books that cross disciplines aim to practice interdisciplinary.  They do not theorise but engage in interdisciplinary activities.  They find places where disciplines meet or can potentially meet in tackling a problem or thinking about an object.

There are interdisciplinary centres which seek to represent this work and challenge the pressure of specialisation which creates ever higher boundaries and exclusive domains of terminology.  These are also practical affairs which stage ‘interdisciplinarity’ through their conferences and publications.  These interdisciplinary spaces are supposedly cleared of the marks of particular disciplines, of the founding concepts of any particular field.  This means that the activity which takes place in these spaces has the potential to be radically new, to initiate conceptual shifts that arise because disciplinary concepts meet in a space that is not already marked out by the foundational concepts that give particular disciplines their shape.    

Yet how is this activity organised?  When interdisciplinary research throws up titles such as ‘Managing trust – Making interdisciplinary research teams work’ and ‘Best practice of interdisciplinary research: lessons from the history of biology’ it seems that interdisciplinary studies is concerned with managing the relations between the disciplines.  It seems to me that in seeking to be purely practical in our approach to the interdisciplinary we smuggle certain theories into the space of praxis.  Theories of management and organisation structure the spaces which are supposedly interdisciplinary.  It is this meta-discipline that dominates when we seek to clear the ground for interdisciplinary practices.

Architectonics raises the problem of the foundations (or lack of foundations) of knowledge in order to re-think, rather than simply manage, interdisciplinary activities and forms of knowledge.  It must answer its own questions about whether it structures the space of the interdisciplinary by examining its own conceptual foundations and the methods which are founded upon them.  However, its major strength in this regard is to be self-critical.  It does not to claim to be theory neutral and concerned to merely ‘facilitate’ practice like those who seek to manage the change that can occur when disciplines meet. 

In : Interdisciplinary 



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