The traditional disciplinary boundaries that are cemented in the academic world are regularly questioned by the “real world”. The social, environmental and economic challenges confronting academics, policymakers and other stakeholders do not come in neat packages. For example, the stresses of transnational migration present questions for international lawyers, transport experts and conflict analysts alike, and the impacts of water scarcity equally call on civil engineers, anthropologists, natural hazard specialists and policy makers.
Integrating the specialisations of different academic disciplines brings many challenges—not least organisational, bureaucratic, methodological, and cultural. For instance, traditional academic research assessment practices can incentivise approaches to research that lack the interdisciplinary flexibility to engage with pressing societal challenges. Nevertheless there are today many emerging examples of innovative and impactful interdisciplinary collaborations, with interdisciplinary practices becoming a given in many areas of enquiry.
This article collection is dedicated to exploring these challenges and realities, focusing on the concept, mechanics, and processes of 'interdisciplinarity'.
Papers are invited that consider, but are not limited to, the following ideas:
- Evolving definitions of interdisciplinarity, and related concepts like ‘transdisciplinarity’
- Different perspectives on the need to drive for interdisciplinary collaborations
- The place of interdisciplinarity in shaping policy, such as in relation to the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals
- The mechanics and processes that take place in order for interdisciplinary research to happen in practise
- The place of interdisciplinarity in educational institutions and assessment exercises (e.g. REF in the UK)
- The challenges, pitfalls and hurdles that face those seeking to bring disparate disciplinary practices and communities together
- Lessons learnt from interdisciplinary projects and collaborations and how these can be applied in other contexts
This is a rolling article collection and as such submissions will be welcomed at any point up until December 2020. To register interest prospective authors should submit a short article proposal (abstract summary) to the Editorial Office in the first instance. Read our related editorial.