In an increasingly discordant and fractured world I care about creating things which have meaning, inherent value and interdisciplinary purpose. I passionately believe that being interdisciplinary gives people the tools they need to live their lives more effectively and to cope a little better with making sense of the experiences they wrestle with on a daily basis.
Rob Fisher – Network Leader
Every day, people live interdisciplinary lives. In the daily routines and tasks of living in the world we blend knowledge with experience, merge skills with talents, adapt and innovate in forming and applying practices to achieve whatever it is we are doing. Our capacity to live our lives in interdisciplinary ways can be found at the heart of who we are and how we live with each other, what we do and what we might become.
Inter-Disciplinary.Net is based on an inclusive understanding of what interdisciplinarity is and consequently on what this means for doing interdisciplinary work. Labourers, tradespersons, professionals, practitioners, academics, vocational and volunteer workers are engaged in their own areas of activity, each area having its own discreet and often specialist methods, rules, skill-sets, practices, ways of learning and sharing forms of knowledge and experience appropriate to those areas and activities.
Over the past decade there has increasingly been a widespread rise of interest in interdisciplinary work. This has happened primarily in the context of academia in what has become formally known as ‘Interdisciplinary Studies’. Consistent definitions of what this amounts to are notoriously vague, not helped by the fact that the language of ‘multidisciplinary’, ‘transdisciplinary’ and ‘interdisciplinary’ is sometimes used loosely and even synonymously. Broadly speaking, however, it has come to denote work which involves and pools the methods, approaches, knowledge and skill sets of at least two or more disciplines or areas of knowledge. It is work which is carried out literally ‘inter’ or ‘between’ these ‘disciplines’.
We believe this ‘exclusive’ understanding of interdisciplinarity is certainly useful, but doesn’t go far enough. It is too narrow and in the end too blinkered to fully equip people with the tools they need to live their lives more effectively in the modern world.
Interdisciplinary work takes place simultaneously in local, national, international and global contexts. Inclusive interdisciplinarity recognises that life is constantly lived at the interface of all these contexts, which are fluid, dynamic and ever changing areas of activity and ways of living. As people in global communities we have become creative centres where experiences, knowledge and practices mingle, merge and are re-made on a daily basis. We are drawn to explore what is happening at the interface of these contexts and we are compelled to probe the boundaries of all these areas of activities. Assessing how they work internally and how they can work together, merge, blend, learn and adapt involves assessing the critical historical and contemporary issues and narratives which lie at the heart of each.
We are committed to creating accessible interdisciplinary spaces where, regardless of status, title or position, people are invited to meet and engage in a spirit of equality, respect and trust. Interdisciplinary dialogue cannot begin, continue or grow without genuinely mutual respect: if you speak and are heard you have a reciprocal responsibility to also listen and respond. The interdisciplinary encounter is an exchange of ideas, an interaction of points of views, a sharing of knowledge, experience, research, stories and performances. In the encounter with people from differing contexts, disciplines, trades, professions, and vocations, you are lifted beyond the confines of what you normally experience and share in perspectives that are new, challenging, creative and richly rewarding. This kind of dialogue often illuminates one’s own area of work, is suggestive of new possibilities for development, and creates exciting horizons of truly global understandings for future conversations with persons from a wide variety of national and international settings.
The spaces we nurture, the activities in which we invite people to become involved and the results which follow from participation and engagement are creative, innovative and novel. The promotion of global understandings, their unique grounding and implementation within communities and societies, evolve and become the bedrock of the next stage in the conversations which in turn foster and create further pathways for growth, development and collaboration.
Somewhere along the way, the realisation dawns that interdisciplinarity is a way of living in the world and being interdisciplinary is a way of transforming the lives of people. Welcome to the interdisciplinary life. We look forward to being fellow travellers and companions on the journey ahead.
© Inter-Disciplinary.Net 2014