Inter-Disciplinary.Net was founded in 1999 by Dr Rob Fisher, following on from his work with two former companies, Conference Connections and Learning Solutions, organisations that explored contemporary educational models and methods.
At the time of starting Inter-Disciplinary.Net Rob was Course Leader for Theology and Head of Philosophy at Westminster College, Oxford. For Rob working in higher education was not a job – it was more akin to a vocation – something one did because of a love of learning and the excitement of being with others, guiding and helping them to think for themselves. However, that vision of higher education gradually died in the changing climate of higher education and Rob took voluntary redundancy from his position. Inter-Disciplinary.Net grew in part out of a growing sense of disillusionment with the state of higher education and in equal part with a commitment to inter-disciplinary dialogue as the only credible way forward for research.
The sense of disillusionment sprang from the introduction of managerialism, the growing loss of collegiality, dwindling and competitively allocated resources for research, the inappropriate but nevertheless wholesale uses of business models in the education system, and the consequent transformation of Higher Education (teaching, research and learning) into a fundamentally consumerist activity.
The sense of passionate commitment to inter-disciplinary work is a reaction to the sense of frustration many people feel when faced by the narrowness of subject disciplines and the inability of subject specialists to raise their eyes above or beyond the horizons of their own territory. Dialogue and engagement with people from varied areas of interest can throw fascinating, stimulating and poignant insights into one’s own thinking and research. There is nothing more refreshing than looking at one’s own work through the eyes of another, or being able to share perspectives with people from other professions who are working in similar areas. The possibilities for creative and innovative research are enormous.
Rob started Inter-Disciplinary.Net as both a way of working as well as a place where such conversations could be encouraged, nurtured, developed and supported. Over the past ten years, Inter-Disciplinary.Net has grown into a global network of scholars and professionals from all contexts and backgrounds who share the same vision of what research and education can be and who appreciate the exciting potential of having the chance to talk and engage with people from areas other than their own.
Over time, a group of Inter-Disciplinary.Net supporters has emerged to become the core leadership and administrative network of our organisation – people who want to get involved at a deeper level with the various projects being developed and who have become ‘bitten’ by the inter-disciplinary ‘bug’!
In 2005 ID.Net formally and legally came into existence as a not-for-profit network, constitutionally ‘limited by guarantee’. The phrase is deliberate, for the following reasons;
a) Inter-Disciplinary.Net is founded on the time-honoured motto: knowledge for knowledge’s sake, education for education’s sake. These are worth pursuing because they are inherently valuable, not they may be ‘useful’ in some way.
b) It is a not-for-profit network. Our entire surplus resources are wholly reinvested and directed toward maintaining existing projects and/or starting and growing new projects. No-one receives a salary: expenses for travel and accommodation are defrayed from surplus income that may be generated from projects and where specialist services are required, these are engaged on a self-employed basis.
Inter-Disciplinary.Net is founded on the vision of self-generating, self-sustaining communities of dialogue. In turn, this visions informs it’s core principles and philosophy.