Monday, 23 June 2014

The nexus needs research across disciplines – but how?

STEPS co-director Andy Stirling addresses the challenges of working across disciplines in a new blogpost for the Guardian. The ‘nexus’ is the latest buzzword intended to lure researchers out of their disciplinary comfort zones and get them working together on the big challenges of the day. But how easy is it in practice?

There is a crucial distinction between multidisciplinarity and interdisciplinarity. Both seek to transcend narrow agendas, but true interdisciplinary research is designed to go beyond particular theoretical prejudices, privileged methods or favourite solutions – important in the face of big, interconnected challenges like water, energy and food.

The barriers to achieving this include organisational structures within research institutions, the reinforcing power of metrics, citation counts and the Research Excellence Framework (REF). Social science – which examines not only at the ways in which resources and systems are managed and changed, but also the way knowledge is framed and constituted – plays an important role in the search for interdisciplinarity.

Read the full piece: