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The Challenges of Interdisciplinarity

March 14 2011



Seminar Room 2
Ground Floor
School of Social and Political Science
The University of Edinburgh
Chrystal Macmillan Building
15A George Square

Time: 2.30-5pm

To register - please email or call 0131 650 9113

Organised by:

Innogen at The University of Edinburgh.

Video Capture:
Both talks will be recorded and then made available to view on this website a few weeks after the event.

Abstract for Prof Wyn Grant:

Policy challenges in today's world require political science to work effectively with other disciplines. Our second RELU project was more challenging than the first one because of the diverse mix of disciplines involved. Politics as a junction subject is open to collaboration with other disciplines and there are particular affinities with biology. In some ways it is easier to cooperate with the natural sciences because there is less fear of capture. Nevertheless, there are some challenges. Attitudes towards public engagement differed in the two disciplines, but perhaps the greatest challenge has been writing together.

Abstract for Dr Andrew Barry:

A more-than-social science

What are the challenges posed by interdisciplinary collaboration between social scientists and natural scientists? In this paper, I focus on two related sets of questions. The first concerns the relation between existing forms of disciplinary practice and the practice of interdisciplinary collaboration. How is it possible to carry out interdisciplinary research in a way that yields something more than the sum of distinct disciplinary contributions? And how can this additional contribution be evaluated? The second concerns the challenge posed by the need to reconceive what the object of social research is. What is the object of what I will call a ‘more-than social science’? The paper draws upon a series of examples, including my own research in the pharmaceutical industry and on interdisciplinary climate change research, and Sarah Whatmore’s interdisciplinary research on flood modelling.,24204,en.t4.html