Sneak peek of the interdisciplinary guide for the AYA magazineAYA Magazine #2
Interdisciplinarity is currently a major hype in academia. A large proportion of funding calls, new shiny projects and education programmes mention interdisciplinarity in one way or another. In Amsterdam, many academic and nonacademic research and education initiatives seem to incorporate interdisciplinarity. But what is it, what is it good for and how do we put interdisciplinarity into practice? Very little hands-on guidance is currently available, particularly for those starting out with interdisciplinary research or teaching. Because of the lack of information available, we decided to develop a guide on interdisciplinarity.
Through our interdisciplinary lunch events, the Amsterdam Young Academy learned that many researchers want to incorporate more interdisciplinarity into their work, but have little information on the resources available. This probably applies to any interdisciplinary newbie in the world. While discipline-specific information is widely available online for each institute and department, it is the cross-domain and cross-institute initiatives and opportunities in particular that are difficult to google. When looking for information outside your main field, the keywords you are familiar with might have a different meaning or you may simply not know the keywords to use. And how often have you found out that someone a couple of floors up is working on the same topic, but from a different perspective? In Amsterdam, we have the added complexity of harbouring two universities and two academic medical centres. Moreover, we found that ideas on how to shape the practical aspects of interdisciplinary research can be sourced from different viewpoints and different disciplines. Every interdisciplinary collaboration is different, but interdisciplinary researchers often share similar attitudes and interests. In the guide, we use interviews and discussions to reflect on the ‘interdisciplinary identity’. Moreover, researchers also regularly encounter similar organisational and infrastructural hurdles, such as the lack of clear career perspective for interdisciplinary researchers.
The guide offers the opportunity to learn from the shared personal experiences of several stakeholders, ranging from PhD candidates to department heads, and from educators to journal editors. Through this guide, the Interdisciplinarity group hopes to inform and inspire those interested in (starting up) interdisciplinary research and teaching. The guide will likely be published before the end of 2021. Keep an eye on our website and social media pages to stay updated.