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Current Drivers of Interdisciplinarity: The What and the Why

Current Drivers of Interdisciplinarity: The What and the Why
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Author(s): Julie Thompson Klein (Wayne State University, USA)
Copyright: 2018
Pages: 15
Source title: Promoting Interdisciplinarity in Knowledge Generation and Problem Solving
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Mohammed Nasser Al-Suqri (Sultan Qaboos University, Oman), Abdullah Khamis Al-Kindi (Sultan Qaboos University, Oman), Salim Said AlKindi (Sultan Qaboos University, Oman) and Naifa Eid Saleem (Sultan Qaboos University, Oman)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3878-3.ch002


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Calls for interdisciplinarity abound across science and technology, social sciences, humanities, and arts. They also populate reports from professional societies, educational organizations, and funding agencies. Definitions of “what” interdisciplinarity is are entangled with justifications of “why” particular practices are important in a semantic web of purposes, contexts, organizational structures, and theoretical constructs. Citations to earlier literature appear throughout the chapter, but it is the first publication to present insights from the latest authoritative accounts in the 2017 edition of The Oxford Handbook of Interdisciplinarity. The chapter begins by describing four major drivers identified in a 2005 report on Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research and the current ascendancy of transdisciplinarity. It then examines controversies and problematics in three major faultlines of debate: the relationship of disciplinarity and interdisciplinarity, the status of interdisciplinary fields, and tensions between instrumentality and critique. The conclusion reflects on future directions and recommendations, noting patterns of increase alongside continuing challenges.

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