Interdisciplinarity: How to Catalyse Collaboration

An urgent push to bridge the divide between the biophysical and the social sciences is crucial. It is the only way to drive global sustainable development that delivers social inclusion, environmental sustainability and economic prosperity. Sustainability is the classic ‘wicked’ problem, characterized by poorly defined requirements, unclear boundaries and contested causes that no single agency or discipline is able to address. It is crucial to understand, then, why so many well-meaning attempts at interdisciplinary collaboration fail to deliver tangible outcomes — and why others succeed. Here we offer an unapologetically personal answer by reflecting on how, working across multiple faculties of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, we have built a team of disciplinary experts that delivers integrated and sustainable water management across multiple cities. We have now grown this interdisciplinary team to incorporate other institutions nationally and internationally. At the same time, we acknowledge that substantial transaction costs come with interdisciplinary research — it takes extra time and effort to make it work.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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