- 1 Protocol for interdisciplinary research
- 2 Introduction
- 3 Methodologies
- 3.1 Methodologies to enhance interdisciplinarity
- 3.1.1 Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Research Methodology for Sustainability
- 3.1.2 From Disciplinary Methodology to Methodology of Fields of Action
- 3.1.3 Action Clusters and Methods
- 3.1.4 Transdisciplinary Methodology and Social Responsibility: “Responsible Innovation and Science”
- 3.1.5 Methods and Ethics
- 3.2 Research Methodologies
- 3.2.1 Disruption Methodologies
- 3.2.2 Transformation Methodologies
- 3.2.3 Affect-based Methodologies
- 3.2.4 Performative Methodologies or Methodologies of Performativity
- 3.2.5 Processes
- 3.2.6 Framing Methods
- 3.2.7 Co-Creation Methods
- 3.2.8 Integration Methods: Reflective Practice and Analysis
- 3.2.9 Mediation – Translation
- 3.2.10 Dissent (or Conflict)
- 3.2.11 Community
- 3.2.12 Instituting Competencies
- 3.2.13 Standards
- 3.1 Methodologies to enhance interdisciplinarity
- 4 Value of interdisciplinary research and evaluation indicators
- 4.1 Outcomes
- 4.2 Assessment, Indicators, Reporting, Dissemination
- 5 Economy on knowledge transfer in interdisciplinary researcher
- 6 Scenarios
- 7 Appendices
- 7.1 6.1. Appendix 1: List of participants in the writing of the Protocol
- 7.2 Appendix 2: General reference Texts, examples of methodological critique
- 7.3 Appendix 3: Examples of interdisciplinary (art/design) projects
- 7.4 Appendix 4: Some examples of interdisciplinary sustainability projects, Living labs, citizen science, studies of embodied practices, etc.
- 7.5 Appendix 5: Full texts of the Writing Group on Interdisciplinary Research and Knowledge Transfer - WgIRKT
Protocol for interdisciplinary research
The Protocol for Interdisciplinary Research has the objective to provide useful references and guidelines to institutions, funding organisations, individual researchers and interdisciplinary research groups. The document considers a great number of experiences and perspectives about interdisciplinary work and it is an open document in a constant process of review and discussion.
The document is the outcome of the exchange of experiences and the theoretical discussion among the participants in three workshops.
The first draft was edited by Simon Penny and is based on the participant’s contributions in the workshop about interdisciplinary research called Synergies (Hangar. 28th - 30th June, 2013) and with emphasis on work done by Roc Parés, Mara Balestrini and Swen Seebach.
The second version was edited by Tere Badia and Marta Gracia and is based on the participant’s contributions in the workshop about interdisciplinary research and knowledge transfer WIRKT (Hangar. 10th - 12th July, 2014).
The third version was written by Irene Lapuente, Pau Alsina, Roc Parés, Ramon Sangüesa, Laura Benítez, Stella Veciana, Reimund Fickert, Mariona Moncunill, Anna Moreno, Jara Rocha, Vanina Hofman, y Josep Perelló. The writing process took place using writing collaborative methodologies under booksprint format (Hostalric, 16th - 17th April 2015) and under the coordination of Swen Seebach, Tere Badia and Marta Gracia.
With the support of:
Hangar is a centre for art research and production, offering support to artists since 1997. Hangar’s mission is to support the visual artists and creators during the different phases of their art production processes as well as to contribute to the best development of their projects. For doing so, Hangar facilitates them equipments, facilities, production assistance and a suitable context for experimentation and free knowledge transfer. The centre offers an array of services and a framework that allows for the research and development of art productions in their entirety, or partially. Hangar follows up on the results by including the projects in various networks and platforms, or by detecting possibilities for their incorporation within other fields.
At an international level, Hangar has carried out more than 50 artists exchanges with other centers around the world. Since 2007 it participates as a partner in several European cooperation projects, most of them in the frame of the former Culture programme and in the field of new technologies applied to art and creativity.
Moreover, since 2010, Hangar has developed different contexts and methodologies for the transfer of knowledge, methodologies and results between different disciplines. This has been done in the framework of the project Grid_Spinoza (www.gridspinoza.net) and some European cooperation projects such as Soft Control (www.softcontrol.info – still ongoing).
Arguments for interdisciplinary research
Interdisciplinarity has two main areas of value, one is pragmatic, the other epistemological.
The pragmatic aspect lies in solving complex real-world problems, minimising unintended side effects and creating new narratives to observe a phenomena. The complexity of situated problems requires diverse input.
Interdisciplinarity is generally recognized as a key technique for generating new knowledge and solving hard problems in emerging and changing technological, environmental, social contexts, such as global communications, ubiquitous computing, emerging digital cultures and their legal and political aspects, global warming and sustainability problems.
As with the pragmatic aspect, in the epistemological aspect, interdisciplinarity helps to solve boundary problems and has a mediating function between disciplines. The epistemological aspect involves negotiation of the relationships between disciplines and interrogation of the coherence of assumptions and methods.
Interdisciplinarity encourages reflexive consideration of disciplines. Philip Agre called this Critical Technical Practice. It reveals operational metaphors and methodological errors and exposes hidden assumptions of disciplinary cultures by denaturalization and interrogating operational metaphors and structuring narratives. It can help find disciplinary lacunae and extend disciplinary research scope/paradigms. It allows mediation between disciplines and helps get into the gaps between the so-called ‘silos’. The ‘silo’ metaphor, commonly deployed in commentaries in English, sees disciplines as rising like columns over time. As they get higher, they both reinforce their own conventions and cross communication between silos is reduced. Niklas Luhmann explained interdisciplinarity in terms of the cybernetic notion of the observer of the second order. Someone who does not see just the object through the eyes of the discipline but who, thanks to his distance, sees and can reflect on the object, the discipline, and on the bonds between them, which may transpire to be questionable.
Interdisciplinarity in this case would mean to create a position beyond disciplines. Roland Barthes identified a similar condition when he said - “In order to do interdisciplinary work, it is not enough to take a 'subject' (a theme) and to arrange two or three sciences around it. Interdisciplinary study consists of creating a new object, which belongs to no one.”
Applying the methods of one discipline to the material of another can produce valuable productive outcomes or results of interdisciplinary research. In his work Cognition in the Wild, Ed Hutchins’ approach to distributed cognition opened up cognitive science by challenging its methodologies to account for problems outside the normal problem set. In the social sciences, mixing methods from anthropology, social psychology and sociology has contributed to important epistemological turns.
Academic research (often characterised as the ‘Ivory Tower’) is perceived to be isolated and not responsive to real (public, citizen) problems. “Real life” is about real life problems which may not stop at disciplinary boundaries. Interdisciplinarity opens inquiry to diverse participation, as indicated in the concerns of citizen science initiatives.
Disciplines as cultures
The ‘Silo problem’ is a way of describing the self-defining and self-justifying quality of disciplinary formations. It also draws our attention to the inaccessibility of the spaces between the silos.
Disciplines are not absolute, they are historically contingent, they arise and decay. The existence of Interdisciplinarity is a symptom of disciplinarity (and their lacunae). Disciplines emerge out of interdisciplinary initiatives. Examples in recent decades include women’s studies and gender studies; science and technology studies, media studies, game studies, software studies, computer science and informatics. We can also see interdisciplinarity as historically prior. The Greeks worked with geometry, physics, biology, in an interdisciplinary and applied way. Disciplines are platonic ideal types, which support increased specialisation and abstraction but also detach research from worldly questions.
Methodologies which are standard in one discipline are often unknown in another. For instance, Grounded Theory, Discourse Analysis, qualitative interview, methodologies from social science are not taken seriously in ‘harder’ sciences, even in economic studies.
Knowledge and practices are discipline/domain specific. The very act of transferring ‘data’ or ideas from one discipline to another often results simplistic interpretations due to the shift in disciplinary cultural references. An example might be the use of J. J. Gibson’s notion of Affordance in Design and HCI. Of course, such ‘misinterpretations’ which occur as terms drift across epistemological territory are often themselves generative.
Difficulties and challenges encountered in interdisciplinarity
a) Trust. Trust concerns to the need to be able to trust in the continuation of a project in which you invest, but it also concerns to trust in the other participants of the project. What sacrifices am I/is my discipline ready to make? What moral setting can we agree upon? Furthermore trust has to do with the fairness of the distribution of resources and the benefits.
b) Mutual recognition. It takes time and effort for people from different disciplines to understand each other's ways of seeing. People from different disciplines make assumptions about what the other disciplines are about, think they understand their languages. A possibility is accepting ignorance and being humble about knowledge on other arenas.
c) Legitimacy of all participants and balanced participation. Interdisciplinary projects imply finding strategies to include a diverse number of people from different disciplines. This however, demands on the one hand side communication and negotiation processes that are reconised and seen as legitimate by all participants, a balanced and open participation of actors from various sectors, and possibilities for renegotiating at least some of the established rules, norms and demands according to new participants and shifting needs. It is evident that the needs and demands to settle in concrete demands, aims and goals are different from actor to actor.
d) Problems of communicating across disciplinary boundaries. Virtues for participants in interdisciplinary projects include humility, reflexivity, diplomatic skills and general goodwill. Participants who are committed to the world-view of their own discipline will struggle and will create impediments for the group.
e) Problems of commitment and continuity. How can continuous engagement be guaranteed? This depends on the type of interdisciplinarity and on the organization within such a project – hierarchical, symmetrical, collaborative.
f) Problems of funding and support. Dependent on the project type there are different funding issues.
g) Milestones, benchmarks and evaluation criteria. Criteria for evaluation and even completion which hold in disciplinary contexts may not hold in the interdisciplinary realm. Continuous negotiation of goals and criteria is a necessary aspect of an interdisciplinary project.
h) IP and appropriate credit. Participants in interdisciplinary projects should accrue the kinds of rewards which are of value in their worlds, personal and professional.
i) Institutional support. Funding bodies and institutions actively (though not intentionally) impede interdisciplinary projects by ascribing value to only certain kinds of outcomes – a grant, a peer reviewed paper. Allowing credit for an exhibition, a film, or a protocol they contributed to would encourage interdisciplinary work.
Approaches for interdisciplinary projects
Some approaches for interdisciplinary projects are: - Problem driven approaches, driven by government agencies, NGOs, foundations, patrons. - Open exploration - emergent goals. - Community identified goals. - Interdisciplinary subcontracting. In some large scale scientific research grants, the public education and dissemination pieces are subcontracted to artists, curators, bloggers or citizen organisations. Such an approach is pragmatic and effective but may not contribute to negotiation of disciplinary world-views etc.
Common goals without common ground. It is possible to imagine that intelligent people of goodwill can come together to achieve a goal which they share, and for which they are motivated to work, both because they believe in the goal and because they will depart with a reward in a currency they can use. The solution to such a problem is not the subjection of all participants to one disciplinary worldview, nor the assumption of the possibility of universal language that will undergird the enterprise, but rather the recognition that knowledge and experience are fundamentally heterogeneous and that common languages must be negotiated.
The process itself can stimulate interdisciplinary action. Make the process itself pleasant. Personal bonds and shared experiences can be a good basis for working together, as well as the satisfaction of working with a community. Shared experiences often contribute to working together. Shared events, research trips, shared humour and myths contribute to the building of community coherence.
Challenges for institutions and funding bodies
Some challenges for institutions and funding bodies are:
- Provide opportunities for open-ended creative experimentation which may have no short term market application.
- Foster investment not only in technical infrastructure or in traditional, ‘content‘, but also in media projects that create access and participation.
- Make small-scale and short-term project funding available.
- Provide for long-term structural support.
- Create structures that support projects based on methodology as opposed to subject.
- Promote “cross bridges” between university departments, research labs etc.
- Recognize non-traditional outcomes – such as public manifestations, documentaries, etc.
- Support and fund applied to science labs in universities (support actively interdisciplinary work), give accreditation for interdisciplinary contributions, pay extra-money for interdisciplinary contribution in universities (courses, presentations, lab work).
- Support investigation within the “wild”.
Practical tips for survival, success and sustainability
People who have had deep experience or education in two or more particular disciplines or arenas may be of value in facilitating interdisciplinary activity or at least in understanding some of the challenges.
Humility in accepting one’s own lack of understanding in an area is key. Tied to this is the problem of commonly held prejudices or distrust in other principles. Scientists may assume that art is simply trickery (which, even if it was, might not be a bad thing) or artists may assume that scientists think simplistically or mechanically about the world and are incapable of lateral thinking.
Confrontation as well as agreement should be expected and permitted. There should be a means of encouraging critical discussion without taking it personally.
Dangerous tendencies and recommended solutions:
- Communicate early and often – face to face.
- Communicate at the beginning via metaphors and visualizing language.
- Try to make assumptions and expectations explicit at the outset.
- In all research steps ensure that you agree: what is the issue, problem?.
- Create shared experiences with others, despite the project itself: e.g. being in one building, working on one table, creating shared events.
- Diplomacy - manage and nurture relationships.
- Be humble - avoid disciplinary hubris.
- Mutual respect - Don’t be patronising. Sometimes encountered when ie engineers and computer scientists ‘speak down’ to artists, but just as often the opposite.
- Share work, rewards and recognition.
Methodologies to enhance interdisciplinarity
An interdisciplinary approach is a key component of the sustainability of any sector. However, there are considerable barriers to implement interdisciplinary projects.
One of the problems trying to define a successful methodology of interdisciplinary research is to confuse this with:
- Methods/methodologies to stimulate interdisciplinary research
- Methods/methodologies to create communities
- Methods/methodologies to invite actors from different communities and to keep open to new influences
- With methods
A method is a systematic process that allows us to reach a specific objective, while a methodology is a series of methods, or a comparative study of different methods. Transdisciplinary research is practice-based-research, developed by actual researchers. Transdisciplinary research processes are thus inextricably linked to researchers.
Therefore, research methodologies are often defined as experimenting, and gaming. While interdisciplinary research is growing there is no common glossary, no focused communication platform and no commonly shared research framework. Interdisciplinary research utilizes a broad, but not clearly defined set of methods for knowledge production. But interdisciplinary research must be clearly framed, including the use of a common terminology and the development of a broad suite of appropriate methods.
However, a discussion on interdisciplinary research methodologies might sharpen the difference between disciplines i.e between artists' methods (open processes) on one and scientist's methods on the other (clearer methodologies).
An experimental methodology: the experiment in the laboratory/experiment in the wild.
Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Research Methodology for Sustainability
For the full version of the original text go to Methodologies for Interdisciplinary Research by Stella Veciana.
Over the past few decades, a section of leading-edge science has been trying to go beyond traditional scientific methodology, by means of transdisciplinarity. The term transdisciplinarity was first used in the seventies in the context of a reassessment of the university education and research model. There is currently no single definition of transdisciplinarity, a concept that is constantly under discussion and subject to change. The sociologist Thomas Jahn sums it up as follows: “transdisciplinarity is a reflexive research approach that addresses societal problems by means of interdisciplinary collaboration as well as the collaboration between researchers and extra-scientific actors; its aim is to enable mutual learning processes between science and society; integration is the main cognitive challenge of the research process” (Jahn et al. 2012, 4). Transdisciplinary research takes into account three kinds of knowledge that are key to science geared towards sustainability: the analysis of the knowledge of the system, the attempt to reach an agreement on the desired target knowledge, and the required transformation knowledge (Becker/Jahn 2000). The transdisciplinary approach can be described as
- the systems knowledge that contains knowledge about the needs and challenges facing societies, and about the structures and contexts that they emerge from. This means considering questions that have to do with sustainability, such as: what is the relationship between local challenges and global challenges such as planetary limits, the non-sustainable use of the environment, poverty and social injustice? How can we guarantee that future generations will be able to survive and meet their needs? To answer these questions, researchers begin by studying the complex links between the social, ecological, economic, and cultural dimensions of the problem. The analysis of the context clarifies the current state of the problem and its specific conditions. The analysis also looks at the aspects of uncertainty in the problem in question. As such, it helps researchers to understand what knowledge is missing, to define socio-technological innovation, and to assess the possible consequences of innovation and of social actions.
- the target knowledge that makes it possible to integrate many different types of knowledge into a joint vision. For the research team, this can mean questioning pre-conceived ideas in order to arrive at common approaches in a non-hierarchical, intercultural dialogue. This involves pooling the targets of the collaboration between researchers and social actors. Based on the analysis of the current state of particular social problems, researchers study “the situation that should or should not be”. They also consider the desired impact of the project, which can result in laying the groundwork for future regulations, or to proposing sustainable lifestyles. Other challenges are linked to the process of transdisciplinary research itself.
- transformation knowledge refers to knowledge about methods and concepts that can be implemented as possible solutions to the problem in question. Based on this knowledge, researchers specify the personal training, resources, and social interventions required to reach the common objective. Transformation knowledge is knowledge about how to move from the current situation to the desired situation. This means that members of the research team will be required to have certain attributes during the entire transdisciplinary research process. One of these is to be open to dialogue, so as to build relationships based on mutual trust. Others are critical self-reflection, an awareness of co-responsibility, and commitment.
In interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research, participatory methodology is a key element for creating more sustainable and resilient societies. On one hand, it promotes critical self-reflection and an awareness of co-responsibility in knowledge-generation and implementation processes. And on the other, it generates non-hierarchical dialogue based on mutual trust, which allows researchers to imagine alternatives to specific problems through common approaches. Notable precursors to the participatory method include Participatory Research-Action, Agricultural Systems Research, Rapid Rural Diagnosis, Participatory Rural Diagnostics, Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation, and Participatory Analysis of Poverty. From the beginning, participatory methodologies have been widely used around the world by different actors in a wide range of sectors. These methods were initially conceived and used by small non-government organisations and agricultural research centres for the design of rural development projects. Nowadays, they are used by universities, cooperation agencies, and even the World Bank. Moreover, their use has spread to projects in very different fields, including natural resource management, conflict resolution, microcredits, and healthcare, to name a few.
Transdisciplinary methodology begins with a study that integrates different types of knowledge. It is based on the idea of a structural change in the relationship between science and society. It uses relational methodology that combines scientific knowledge and practical knowledge. Notable concepts include "Mode 2 Investigation” (Gibbons et al, 1994), “postnormal science” (Funtowic/Ravetz, 2001) and the precursor of “research-action” (Kurt Lewin, 1946).
Perhaps one of the most significant precursors of transdisciplinarity is "action-research" methodology. According to its creator, MD and psychologist Kurt Lewin, the three most important characteristics of action-research are: its participatory nature, its democratic impulse, and its simultaneous contribution to knowledge in the social sciences. During and after World War II, Lewin and his colleagues at the Group Dynamics Centre at MIT embarked on several projects in conjunction with civil servants and community leaders. Their aim was to transform theoretical principles from the field of psychology into practical recommendations for solving social problems such as interracial conflicts (Lewin, 1948). The key ideas behind the participatory aspect were “group decision-making and commitment to improvement”.
Another important forerunner is the “postnormal science” methodology developed by the mathematicians Silvio Funtowic and Jerome Ravetz. This approach aims to resolve social or environmental situations, for example, in which "facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high, and decisions urgent," (Funtowic/Ravetz, 1991). The uncertainty of the system and the consequent decision-making risks are particularly high in the case of major challenges such as climate change. The complexity of these problems requires preemptive, participatory legislation in order to prevent irreversible change. This means an “extended community of peers” promoting civic participation in order to provide multiple, constructive perspectives on such complex and controversial scientific and political issues.
From the nineties onwards, theorists such as the sociologists Helga Nowotny and Michael Gibbons began to make a distinction between the development of “mode 2 applied research” and “traditional mode 1 science”. Research problems in mode 1 arise exclusively from internal disciplinary scientific interests, while research lines in mode 2 seek “robust solutions” to social problems in a particular context. In order to increase the robustness of solutions, a deeper knowledge of the context is required. For example, the appropriate design and materials for a robust building will depend on whether the site on which it will be built is earthquake prone. Meanwhile, scientific quality in mode 2 is bound to social responsibility. The added value is the “integrated social value”, or in other words, the fact that it considers the social consequences of scientific production. Nowotny also proposes open communication between science and society, and advocates setting up an “agora” in which to discuss the knowledge required for the robust solutions that we need.
From Disciplinary Methodology to Methodology of Fields of Action
Go to the full version of the original text on Methodologies for Interdisciplinary Research by Stella Veciana.
See the recently published SEAC study Steps to an Ecology of Networked Knowledge and Innovation. Enabling New Forms of Collaboration among Sciences, Engineering, Arts, and Design
Action Clusters and Methods
The concept of “action clusters” discussed in this protocol was developed in the publication "Steps to an Ecology of Networked Knowledge and Innovation. Enabling New Forms of Collaboration among Sciences, Engineering, Arts, and Design". This study is framed within the STEM to STEAM movement that grew out of a renewed interest in how the arts, design, and humanities can contribute to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and how it can help to set up new kinds of collaborations for resource-sharing, education and innovation projects, and transformative transdisciplinary initiatives. Action clusters are groups of activities, key processes, and implementation processes. The idea of “clustering” is a way of going beyond the concept of disciplines as delimited sets of knowledge. The action clusters identified in the study are:
- translating (problem-driven connections among academic, commercial, and civil societies; project formation and translational value)
- convening (overcoming transdisciplinary thresholds)
- enabling (sustained balanced SEAD relationships forming safe, productive environments for hybrid individuals and practices)
- including (spurring innovation through the diversity of communities addressing global issues and local solutions)
- situating (an emerging ecology of creative spaces; “alt spaces”)
- sense-making (multimodal knowledge and ways of knowing; integrating understandings through the STEAM perspective)
- documenting (recording and transmitting: capturing, publishing, curating, archiving)
- sharing (tapping into the passion and creativity of lifelong curiosity and learning)
- collaborating (working across disciplines, organisations, individuals)
- thriving (ethics and values, well-being)
Basically, the method for approaching new forms of collaboration is based on action clusters that do not arise from the branching of the “tree of science” but from “knowledge networks” based on structures with multiple relational connections. The protocol describes action clusters as accessible spaces that go beyond the notion of disciplines and can be used, for example, to investigate conflicts and make the value of dissent visible, etc.
- From STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics), which includes art
Transdisciplinary Methodology and Social Responsibility: “Responsible Innovation and Science”
Go to the full version of the original text on Methodologies for Interdisciplinary Research by Stella Veciana.
Transdisciplinary Methodology and Social Responsibility: “Responsible Innovation and Science”
At the European level, the idea of social responsibility applied to science is currently discussed under the concept of “responsible innovation and science”, particularly in the framework of the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme. In scientific research, “responsibility” originally referred to the professional ethics of scientists in regard to the accuracy of their results, to guaranteeing the safety of those directly affected by their studies, and to the management of the public funds made available to them. Now, however, responsible science also refers to the social consequences of research and of the publication or results: this includes destructive, unpredictable repercussions, the lack of control, and conflicts with the society’s values, as in the case of genetic engineering for example.
There are currently different notions of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). The RRI Tools Project funded under the Framework Programme FP7 aims to develop a set of digital resources for the community of practice. This project understands RRI as “a shift in responsibility: the shift from thinking in terms of individualist and consequentialist notions of responsibility to thinking in terms of collective and distributed responsibility and processes.” This means that it “specifies both outcomes and process requirements of the responsible research and innovation process.” This protocol suggests taking into account the methods developed by the project, including its repercussions, as a commitment to create the appropriate conditions for a responsible action process. At the same time, it raises questions about how, from what context, and who (co-)decides on the distribution of responsibility.
- “As far as process requirements for RRI are concerned, we agree that RRI should have four integrated dimensions: anticipation (envisioning the future and understanding how present dynamics of promising shape the future), reflexivity (which occurs as first-, second- and third-order learning), inclusion (the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders, such as users, NGOs, etc. in the early development of science and technology) and mutual responsiveness (responding to emerging knowledge, perspectives, views and norms). In addition, we suggest adding another three process requirements in our conceptualization of RRI: diversity (key criterion for the evaluation of interactive policy-making processes), meaningful openness (rephrasing transparency) and adaptive change (describing how an RRI process must leave room to adaptation)”. See RRI Tools: http://www.rri-tools.eu/about-rri
Methods and Ethics
Go to the full version of the original text on Methodologies for Interdisciplinary Research by Stella Veciana.
The concept of “responsible science and innovation” covers different aspects of the relationship between science and innovation and society: ethics, gender equality, free access, citizen participation and scientific education.
The history of large-scale engineering is littered with projects which get the right answer to the wrong problem. Any interdisciplinary project must begin with an analysis of the ‘Big Picture’, to ensure the right questions are asked. Who sees the big picture? Global Economic/Social/Environmental/Political contextualization. Importance of involving ‘Big Picture people’. Appropriately chosen artists can often play a key role due to the professional formation of artists as interdisciplinary integrators and discerners of cultural and environmental patterns. They serve as observers of the second order and as nodes (in Castells sense).
Some methodologies for interdisciplinary research are:
- Mixed methods approach
- Action research
- Grounded theory (anthropology says its really just anthropology)
- Critical design
- Participatory design
- Actor network theory
- Pickering’s Mangle – performative and representational modes
- Activity theory
- Process ontology
Mike Michael argues for the “idiotic method”, wherein the idiot as a revealing and critical role, asking the right uncommon questions.
Go to the full version and original texts Methodologies for Interdisciplinary Research by Laura Benítez and Methodologies for Interdisciplinary Research by Ramon Sangüesa.
Disruption methodologies are participatory methodologies that call into question preconceived ideas as a starting point from which to enable transcultural, non-hierarchical dialogue among different fields of action. Ideally, this non-hierarchical dialogical structure favours the generation of new action clusters, in which forms of contact-experience break down the boundaries of specialisation: their opacity, abstraction, fetishism and mystification. Disruption methodologies are participatory methodologies that destabilise the role of the existing distribution system, which makes a clear distinction between professional-experts and non-experts or amateurs, and supports hegemonic and thus hierarchical narratives in a collaborative but not transversal process. These methodologies should allow for the possible termination or interruption of a project at any time, both the action clusters and the structure, and should thus include replicability.
An example of a disruption method
The Free Range Grain project carried out by the Critical Art Ensemble with Beatriz da Costa and Shyh-shiun Shyu in 2003-2004 was a participatory performance that promoted information exchange and access to information. The project consisted of a portable lab that allowed users to test food and find out whether it had been genetically modified. In other words, it offered the public information that the State denied it about the product purchased. The process involved DNA tests based on the interaction with the bacteria serratia marcenses, and results were available after a period of 72 hours.
Transformation methodologies are participatory methodologies that allow for the non-linear continuation of disruptive processes that generate spaces for implementation and, in turn, implement resignification processes. Resignification becomes a springboard for the transformation of the language coding that defines regulatory meaning.
The condition of possibility of these implementation processes (and thus, of transformation) is the critical sense of self reflection that, in turn, helps to create a vacuum of meaning.
Transformation methodologies are participatory methodologies that break into narratives and promote the reconfiguration of pre-defined, pre-existing standards.
An example of a transformation method
Affect-based methodologies are participatory methodologies that start out trying to identify, by means of an RRI, the parties that will or may be affected by the research being carried out. Once this has been done, it may be appropriate for the affected parties to participate in developing the research project, which would also lead to breaking down the distinction between expert and amateur.
An example of an affect-based method
Palle Nielsen. The Model. A Model for a Qualitative Society. In 1968, Palle Nielsen approached the Moderna Museet in Stockholm with a proposal for turning the museum into an adventure playground. For a month, his “Model for a Qualitative Society” offered a space exclusively for children, without parents or educators, to build their own playground.
Performative Methodologies or Methodologies of Performativity
Performative methodologies are a set of participatory methods that allow transparency in research processes and when it comes to communicating their findings. These processes should be accessible and transactive, offering co-creation spaces in which all participating agents are active, and not simply receivers or interpreters.
Performative methodologies are participatory methodologies that should organise forms of contact-experience that enable collective knowledge production through the integration of multiplicity as a common knowledge-generation tool.
An example of a performative method
Jordi Ferreiro makes no distinction between art and education. His projects are an investigation in which both “disciplines” are conjoined by way of play, to construct spaces of knowledge through the elements of joy and surprise. Jordi uses formats traditionally understood to be educational and transforms them into hybrid projects, such as performative tour guides, interactive audio guides, and games: The Emperor’s New Clothes, A Conversation with the Museum or A Performance to Be Performed, The Presence or Another Story/Another Occasion. Performance as a form of contact-experience that enables the experience of contemporary art.
Minimum: generating the frame, co-creation, Integration Ideal: Backtrack, Integration, Reorientation
There are three inescapable stages involved in the processes that organise transdisciplinary projects. In the description that follows, it should not be assumed that there is a fixed, linear structure linking the stages discussed. Each stage should be taken as a node, or a point of support, from which to gain perspective and connect to other stages.
(1) An initial stage for framing the problem, question, or area of work. In other words, for agreeing upon and describing the problem framework that is to be tackled through the integration of two or more disciplines. Framing has its own methods, which spread over the continuum of collaboration and equality. Ideally, all participants of a project should carry out the framing process. For one group to impose its own framing is at odds with the notion of a transdisciplinary project.
(2) A co-creation stage, in which participants create knowledge together. This co-creation process is the heart of transdisciplinary research. It combines learning and research into a single action. Learning, in unexplored epistemic zones of action is the research itself. Research in these zones generates learning in participants.
(3) An integration stage. Integration corresponds to a stage consisting of reflective practice, which can either be interwoven into co-creation, or carried out after the fact. Integration gives rise to several types of knowledge. A very important one is the knowledge that emerges from actual reflection on the process that has been carried out. The corresponding analysis offers opportunities to represent and originate new forms of processes, new stages, and new methods. On another level, it makes it possible to renegotiate objectives, change the structure of the process, its forms of governance, etc. It also enables mapping the knowledge learnt in the fields of action pertaining to different participants. And, lastly, it can also establish new fields of action.
There are several types of approaches to narrowing the field of action. Some see transdisciplinarity as a means to resolve problems, some generate hypotheses that lead to new fields of action, and some generate questions.
As a guide, examples of methods of the first “colour” include all the inherently participatory and transdisciplinary methods that were developed to tackle “wicked” problems (Rittel 1973).
Examples of the second and third types include the methods developed through participatory design, metadesign (Giaccardi, 2005), and social innovation processes. An important aspect of this last case is the use of exhibitions to start the process and to generate reflective practice (which we consider part of the integration stage), (Penin, 2013):
Lastly, it is important to emphasise the methods based on producing experiences, events, or objects that generate questions – the “strange object” (Sangüesa, 2014). The problem, question, or working hypothesis eventually emerges through these discussions. In this sense, critical making (Ratto, 2011) and some speculative and critical design methods (Dunne and Rabby, 2013) that tie in with conceptual artistic practices are a good guide for finding and developing methods during this stage.
- VOICES Project
The VOICES project is primarily a consultation to discover the preferences and opinions of people from across 27 European countries in order to shape research directions that are in keeping with the interests of citizens. The framing of the problem consisted of identifying these directions, and how to connect them. In the framing process, which includes many framing and co-creation methods and techniques, workshops were held in each country in order to detect the types of problems to be studied. Some of the fields of action that emerged necessarily had to include different disciplines.
- RRI Tools Project
RRI Tools is a transdisciplinary project that brings together social sciences, technology, and policy making. It studies the basic concepts required to develop socially responsible research and innovation.
The framing of the research project involved several participatory workshops to identify the areas and ethical aspects that form the boundaries of the research... on responsible research.
- Policy Design Project
The Policy Design Project was developed by several researchers from the fields of design and political sciences with links to the urban area of Chicago. It uses a “framing kit” to detect aspects that require new policies. This kit includes practices that are variants of the conception and prototyping methods used to create new laws and regulations in the urban area.
Co-creation refers “any act of collective creativity, i.e., creativity that is shared between two or more people. The intent is to create something not known in advance” (Sanders, 2008).
Interestingly, many co-creation methods seek to place participants in a generative space of potentiality that can also give rise to new insights in regard to the activity that is being co-created. “Prototyping” would be a good encapsulation of the non-discursive, interactive approach in this activity, not in the sense of commercial prototyping but as a means to create conceptual or detailed models (Corsín, 2013), (Schrange, 1996).
The justification for these types of approaches lies in anthropological methods based on materiality as a source of knowledge (Ingold, 2013, 2007).
Lastly, there is also a whole series of co-creation methods that appeal to the body and performativity, such as “bodystorming” (Oulasvirta, 2003).
- Exhibition as a form of integrated framing and co-creation
Amplifying Creating Communities: North Brooklyn is a participatory research project that looks at new approaches to urban renewal. It combines transdisciplinary work including design, urbanism, visual anthropology, sociology, new audiovisual media, and museum practices. After collecting ethnographic information using visual anthropology methods, the researchers launched a co-creation process with residents of North Brooklyn. As a result, in the second stage, they themselves created an exhibition about their views and demands for a new urbanism. The exhibition led to the involvement of new agents and disciplines, and to a renegotiation of some of the project objectives.
- Walkshop: Urban Performative Research
Walkshops are a variation on the urban derive that draw attention to aspects of technological and information control mechanisms that are spread through the city. This activity allows participants to identify (“frame”) questions and working hypothesis. (http://www.citilab.eu/es/node/3329)
Integration Methods: Reflective Practice and Analysis
Integration methods seek to visualise the knowledge that is generated, its problems, conflicts, points of consensus, and points of dissent. The objective is to generate joint reflexion and learning among the participants, in order to decide on several aspects of the process: whether to continue or terminate a project, “forking”, new objectives, new indicators, new questions, and so on. These methods also seek to isolate new knowledge generated in the process, including process-based knowledge.
Integration methods are often based on conceptual mapping techniques and dialogue analysis. “Critical making” can also be used during this stage to elicit and explicitly identify the points of conflict that have emerged in the process. Lastly, some variants of “controversy mapping” are also useful for this purpose.
Integration can include the visualisation of new fields of action, and the transformation of the initial fields that the participants originally positioned themselves within.
- Visualisation for Critical Analysis
Co-Creation of an Innovation Ecosystem for Good Journalism is a transdisciplinary project in the framework of the Knowledge Federation. It aims to generate new journalism in the current context of globalisation, privatisation, questioning of the media, and crisis of representation.
In this project, the approach to journalistic “issues” is constantly questioned and renegotiated. The project involves the explicit mapping of concepts, debates and controversies, through processes that are shared among all participants. The discussion and ontological maps are constructions that emerge from the development of the actual project, and they are used during practical sessions for joint reflection based on these structured visual representations.
- Integrating Indigenous Knowledge and High-Tech
Eugenio Tisselli carried out the project Sauti ya wakulima in order to explore how to generate information and communication technologies that could help farmers in Tanzania to improve their agricultural practices. The project was based on the use of mobiles by farmers to share their observations and comments on their crops, weather conditions (rainfall, growth, etc.), and so on. The aim was to develop new forms of agricultural management practices and knowledge, and new ways of using technology that fit in with indigenous views.
Mediation – Translation
Methodology for a mediation-translation process in which all of the disciplines are represented. Sharing the mediation process. Replicability as a form of mediation-translation. Open Peer Review.
Mediation and translation are activities that seek to make the most of the frictions, conflicts, misunderstandings, and epistemic gaps in a project and use them for decision making and to detect new research possibilities.
Translation can be understood as the transfer or reformulation of knowledge from one field of action or one group of participants to another. It can also transform the fields involved.
Meanwhile, mediation could be considered to refer to the mechanisms that enable the creation of spaces and devices for managing disagreements, conflicts, and misunderstandings, in regard to the objects of knowledge of the fields involved or emerging fields, and also to knowledge of the actual process. In this sense, it would also tie in with reflective practice.
The fact that mediation can be explicitly set out in communicable languages and formats creates the possibility of its replicability in other transdisciplinary projects.
Mediation can either be exercised through a specific role assigned to a particular participant, or through a series of rules, regulations, and conventions that are carried out in a distributed manner.
Mediation includes the creation of opportunities and spaces for dissent and conflict. These spaces are temporary forms of institution, where certain conventions and rules defined by the group of participants operate.
- London Docks
London Docks was a project by the artist Rebecca Leeson Dunn (2007), which involved the residents of the area known as the London Docks. The best-known and most visible part of the project was a series of photo-murals displayed at six sites in the London Docks and surrounding area. The images were produced through a process of research and discussion with members of the Poster Co-op community, which included representatives of all the tenants and associations active in the port area. This activity carried out in conjunction with citizens was able to define a subject of resistance and organise mediation with the urban planning developers. In other words, the mediation process began with an artistic approach to the whole project, but led to a negotiated planning.
- Sauti ya wakulima
The project worked very well, but Tisselli, in disagreement with other members of the project team, believed that all the software and hardware had to be open source so as to ensure the replicability of the project. As the team was unable to agree on this point, the project was terminated.
Dissent (or Conflict)
Provoking dissent, remaining within ethical limits
The creation of “de-institutionalised” spaces in which conflict is possible: collective self-critical practices? Provoking dissent as a methodology by which to create fields of action
- Julian Oliver, Aspects of critical technology
- When we Live to 150
Creating process for aligning interests or discussing shared research questions. Creation of contexts of shared – and repetitive – performativity. Working together and side-by-side – caring for objectives and affects.
The community is principle and result, dynamic and static, in these types of processes.
- London Docks
- Artic Oron Catts
- Latour Citizen Science
- Latour/Lafuente Miopatías
Rotate leadership – methodology. Ongoing questioning of the structure. Taking into account the funding bodies (beyond the logo).
Pool the different standards. Situate the standards at the time and place where the project begins and grows. Renegotiate ritualised standards.
Value of interdisciplinary research and evaluation indicators
The outcomes of interdisciplinary research can be:
a) Academic outcomes
b) Non-academic, non-textual (performative) outcomes.
- Material artifacts (txtmob)
- Artworks, installations, exhibitions (non didactic)
- Civic projects (library, science shop, living lab)
- Citizen mobilization
c) Collective practices, creation of durable social bonds between researchers,
- New knowledge,
- New critical approaches (such as Actor Network Theory)
- New disciplines
- New interdisciplinary research centers.
Assessment, Indicators, Reporting, Dissemination
Some considerations regarding indicators of evaluation for interdisciplinary research projects
- There is a central conflict on whether there should be fix indicators to evaluate an interdisciplinary project or whether they should be created ad-hoc. Maybe a negotiation between the two positions would be useful, as it widely coheres with the conflict between funders (fix indicators) and receivers (flexible/ad-hoc indicators).
- There is a crucial question on when we should evaluate – pre- or post- a project, and whether the evaluation in two phases should use the same indicators. There is a crucial difference between the indicators measuring the political impact (media, size, visitors) and the scientific impact (meaning, new knowledge). Both types of indicators are different and have to be treated as different groups.
- There is a difference in how evaluators and evaluated see and understand the meaning of indicators.
- A central topic of indicators in order to evaluate projects circulates between chosen and imposed indicators. A possible way to deal with evaluation would be to combine chosen and imposed indicators, to invite evaluators to understand the self-chosen indicators at the beginning of a project. This would demand to explain the indicators that have been chosen in a way that others can understand their use value. However, the evaluation and consequently the negotiation process between chosen and imposed indicators might need to take place twice – at the beginning and at the end of the research. The researcher should have the chance to explain why he/she sees other indicators valuable for evaluating his/her research at the end.
The role of the expert
An important question is the role of the expert (who evaluates interdisciplinary research projects). Funding bodies might need to recruit new experts for new interdisciplinary research fields. However, it is not sure whether an established disciplinary evaluator might not be much milder than an interdisciplinary evaluator understanding interdisciplinarity in one way or the other.
Assesment criteria and indicators
For the full version of the original text go to Value and Indicators for Interdisciplinary Research by Anna Moreno, Mariona Moncunill and Reimund Fickert.
All the assesment criteria and indicators listed below include the following values:
- transparency and accessibility
Based on these values, each interdisciplinary research group will have to agree on their own self-evaluation indicators, which can also be used later for external evaluation. At the very least, all processes must be recorded or documented and later archived, in order to ensure that indicators can be identified and evaluated.
a) Instituent Competencies
The process of identifying and studying competencies begins by discussing the motivation for setting up an interdisciplinary project. All members need to become aware of their own style of thinking and explicitly describe it to the group. This will allow them to communicate their motivations and concerns, and the tools and standards that are their point of departure, both within the process and in its transfer.
The group can then begin to negotiate and question legitimacy (agencies), to recognise the power relations intrinsic to each discipline, and what happens to these relationships when they combine in an interdisciplinary environment. The discussion should particularly take into account situations in which academic disciplines coexist with non-academic or instrumental disciplines.
The negotiation of competencies may differ according to the origins of each initiative. For example, a horizontal initiative may link together different disciplines from the zero point of the process, while other initiatives will begin with an invitation issued by one discipline to others. Interdisciplinary projects must at the very least guarantee that leadership will be transparent and that legitimacy will be questioned from the start, and that this will be reviewable over time.
b) Representation and Visualisation
Representation and visualisation applies to languages, formats and channels, be they disciplinary or interdisciplinary, academic and non-academic.
Detection: What standards are a starting point, what standards are respected, and what standards are created from scratch? The group has to identify these standards, and study their implications. Is there a common language/jargon, or are translation strategies required?
Negotiation: The standard or standards to be used must be consciously chosen and discussed by the members of the group at the start of the process and during the transfer.
- Visualisation in various languages/formats/channels at the same time
- Distortion of existing standards at the symbolic level
- Creation of new or joint standards
All interdisciplinary projects must include a negotiated, reviewable code of ethics. Discussions must include issues such as respecting the cognitive value of each member, the individual responsibilities within the group and in regard to the context, and the dissemination of the outcomes in terms of accessibility. Members must also agree on the sharing of possible benefits, intellectual property issues, and possible subsequent uses of the research.
The standards mentioned above have to do with the process of recognition among members and disciplines of the group, and during the knowledge transfer. In terms of mediation, the standards must aspire to universality, but not to standardisation.
Mediation can be embodied in one or more individuals who perform this role within the group, or it may be distributed among all the agents, in which case the group must set aside spaces and times that favour it. Both cases require a capacity for abstraction, or the ability to “zoom out”. As a tool, mediation must enable dialogue and symmetry at all levels, and take advantage of conflicts and dissent as a source of content and a guarantee of replicability.
Team: The members of the research team should share their interests, motivations, and affects. Ideally, once they have been pooled, the group will work with them to construct scalable, common interests, motivations, and affects, without cancelling out the original ones. Returning to mediation as a tool, the group should create spaces for social interaction that favour the creation of networks and affects.
Context: The group should identify the parties concerned (individuals or collectives) and the contextual connotations of different aspects of the project, and examine them from different points of view (ethical, and transfer-related). The group should consider whether a dialogue with the context is pertinent, and whether to include members of the community as an integral part of the group and as a decisive content generator.
If we accept negotiation and reviewability as constant elements that are present throughout the process, then said process must become exhaustive, non-linear, and open in nature, and it must be based on dynamics spread through different stages. As such, we can say that it is an iterative process.
The group has to negotiate the integration of elements such as contradictions, error, failure, the unknown, and the unpredictable, into the process. “Thinking by making” leads us to see the process as a result in itself. To this end, the documentation and recording of the process should focus on making it visible. When it forms part of this visualisation process, the documentation becomes performative. We believe that performativity is an important value to be taken into account during the research process and the knowledge transfer.
Transdisciplinary research should be an iterative process of revision, analysis, learning and transformation. To this end, transdisciplinary projects should have a flexible, negotiable structure, and accept different degrees of change.
- At the personal (emotional) level.
- At the community level.
- At the disciplinary level.
- At the level of understanding other disciplines.
- At the level of transdisciplinary research itself.
The structure of the project must, at the very least, open up spaces or opportunities to detect, evaluate, incorporate, and visualise possible transformations. Ideally, the project will be permeable enough to totally transform itself, including its structure, its team, its objective, its processes, and any aspect of its content.
The group must create conditions of possibility for:
Interruption, which could be:
- Unexpected (due to the unknown, error): The group must decide whether or not to integrate an interruption of this kind.
- Provoked: The group must decide or detect whether the interruption is provoked from outside of the project (external agent, collaborator, etc), or through the process itself (due to occasional changes to the team structure, for example).
Dissent: Dynamics for contact and interaction among participants and disciplines (assumptions, presuppositions, and perspectives) can generate situations of dissent on four levels:
- Detection: Dissent can lead to changes in the recognition of the other and oneself. - Integration: Modification and generation of new action clusters and new positions. - Visualisation - Dissent as a strategy: dissent as a value in itself, which generates meaning and can be a means for its transfer.
Conflict: Unlike dissent, conflict brings into play questions of power, or reveals problems linked to the structure of the project or to transparency. Conflict must be managed through mediation in order to reach a consensus, or to determine whether the different positions can coexist on the same level without causing harm. In any case, the process must be made visible.
h) Terminating the Project and Risks
The group must contemplate the possibility of terminating the project, and create dynamics based on ongoing self-evaluation that allow its members to reflect on and define the situations or conditions in which the definitive termination of the project is inevitable and desirable (red traffic light).
The group should anticipate risks and express them verbally at the start of the project, no matter how abstract they may be, and accept them prudently, but also as a source of adrenalin. The risks to be considered include those that are intrinsic to the project, those that are related to the framing context, and those that are taken on by each member of the team, both at the professional and personal levels. Remember that identifying and evaluating these risks can be a source of content.
Some other possible assessment criteria and indicators
- Has the researcher, the project attracted further funding? (Potential of the researcher, project)
- Invites the project to co-productive practices with other disciplines, projects, civil society?
- Can the project adapt to new needs and demands that might occur in the course of research/production?
- Does the project contribute to a transformation/ metamorphosis of those who participate?
- Does it and how does it transform space?
- How does the project capture and use the experience of the visitors?
- The application of one result, knowledge or method to other contexts, which means taking something, that has a proven value in one context/discipline, in order to look at another context/discipline. A project in which the meaning of a concept of one discipline is widened/translated to one or more other disciplines is also valued positively.
- If a project allows the participants to transform a model of one discipline by means of knowledge from another discipline . Has the project the capacity to solve or to contribute to solve the problem that it raises?
- Reporting on methodological innovations
- Reporting failure
The problem with institutionally defined approaches is that the assessment criteria already define possibilities, terms on which success is defined, and mitigate against ‘surprises – ie identification of circumstances which lead to reflection, changing paradigms etc.
Economy on knowledge transfer in interdisciplinary researcher
Participation, openness and transparency might be helpful to give something back to actors involved in a research. But some questions rises from that:
Is the bazaar (the market) not hierarchic?
Is value really fairly distributed in a horizontal context?
Who will contribute to co-design practices?
Who will use open data? Everyone?
These questions shed doubt on such value distribution practices.
Even if not value in themselves, we list below five points which might be helpful in order to understand that the Value and the Economy of an interdisciplinary research project might need to be measured on various terms not just in scientific terms. Especially when political bodies fund they might be interested in other value forms, as by the help of them other non-scientific actors might become engaged.
- Community building
- Objective accomplished/achievement of the mission
- Monetary Value
- Ecological Value
Do we need new value forms in/for interdisciplinary research?
1. It might be important to understand the debate on value as a political debate and to discuss value and value production with funding bodies.
2. It might be useful to think about different forms of social organisation in interdisciplinary projects, demanding for different forms of value distribution.
3. Bonding – people from the same group, Bridging – groups with same ends, Linking – groups with other ends might be understood as valuable in itself.
From Disciplines to “Epistemic Zones of Action”
For the full version of the original text go to The Economy of Interdisciplinary Knowledge Transfer by Vannina Hofman, Jara Rocha and Josep Perelló.
Official academic knowledge production is typically structured around the model of established disciplines. This model that became widespread in the 20th century focuses reality and analyses it, and as such it led to major advances both in scientific-technical disciplines in the “experimental sciences” and “natural sciences”, and in the humanities and social sciences.
In recent times, serious doubts have been raised about this model of knowledge production. One of the cases that led to this attitudinal change is the struggle against climate change, which requires a combination of disciplines ranging from physics to economics, in order to attack the problem through scientific knowledge. The scientific community is thus increasingly tending towards “problem-oriented-research”, and funding sources are valuing more highly interdisciplinary projects with different conceptual and methodological frameworks in which actors from outside the academy play key roles. But these inter-institutional, interdisciplinary practices generate tension within universities and research centres. And the tension is intensified even further when elements from outside the academic field, such as citizens for example, are added to this interdisciplinarity. Examples such as citizen science and the emerging transdisciplinarity in transformation sciences pose a challenge to existing channels of professional recognition, prestige, and legitimation, which are often insufficiently open to hybrid practices. Within the existing academic model, interdisciplinary (or transdisciplinary, or non-disicplinary) research is under pressure insofar as the criteria used to evaluate work and productivity are not appropriate to measure the time, effort, and processes required to generate new frameworks and methods. The tension between disciplinary and interdisciplinary interests can also be seen as a clash between two different types of capital, which Lisa Garforth and Ann Kerr (2011) have called “symbolic capital” and “scientific capital”, based on the Pierre Bourdieu’s earlier study Homo Academicus. Scientific capital has to do with disciplinarity, with the identity and evolution of disciplines, and to their assessment criteria, while symbolic capital is open towards models of interdisciplinary innovation.
Interdisciplinary research projects can only be successfully carried out if many diverse interests converge in them. We should aim towards using models that lessen the tension – although not necessarily the difference – between the different types of capital. Interdisciplinarity, of course, requires disciplines in order to exist. Disciplines, in the sense of accumulated knowledge capital and in the sense of sets of practices, cannot be eliminated from the outside. Only researchers working within the practices can blur their boundaries, build bridges, and expand territories. An interdisciplinary focus cannot be imposed. What can be done is suggest means to balance the tension between them, and generate catalysts for new models of knowledge production in the different stages pertaining to education processes.
One strategy for easing the tension of the disciplinary model with a view to expanding possible knowledge-production practices, which takes into account the permeable boundaries between different forms of knowledge and their heterogeneous sources, is to introduce the notion of practices into the heart of the apparently rigid structures of disciplines and the Academy. This generates dynamism and change in situations that seemed to be defined by pre-established limits. A notion that can be extremely useful in this sense is that of the “modes of extitutionalisation” that Daniel López (2014) works with, based on Michel Serres’ notion of extitutions, in as far as it allows us to question social organisations without first having to identifying them according to pre-established typologies.
The notion of “zone” can also provide a useful approach to studying the components and functioning of knowledge production: zones of contact and of contamination, time zones, language zones that entail a specific habitability and performativity, in which everything has be constructed, and where research action takes place. Underlying the term ‘zone’ there is also a less clearly-defined space with blurred boundaries, and the need to accept more vagueness in epistemic zones. It becomes easier to organise and communicate the ideas of interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity if we imagine them not as closed, watertight spaces that have to be linked, but as interconnected zones, and as zones for knowledge production. They affect each other and are in turn affected. “Zooming” in and out even allows us to trance their coexistence, and as such their ecology, and the map the more obvious (or even the less obvious) connections in a research project or exploration. Similarly, intensifying the ideas of dynamism, process and construction, we can also think in terms of “action clusters”. Verbs.
Thinking in terms of epistemic zones changes our overall understanding of the relationships, trajectories, and mediations that emerge in interdisciplinary knowledge production projects. In regard to knowledge transfer, they allow us to question what is inside and what is outside (that which is unknown) and lead us to either make explicit or ignore that which is known. This approach leads us to question the role of technology in the change in participation structures, in the links between “inside” and “outside”, and in the capacity for diverse participation to promote a new kind of science. It requires us to accept that it is impossible to come up with certain answers unless we include or connect with other epistemic zones, and at the same time re-scales the knowledge/research outcomes with many-sided nuances depending on the zone from which the action is observed. It also allows us to go one step further and consider the possible implications of thinking in terms of connected-disconnected, instead of inside-outside, in an epistemic zone.
Thinking about the economy and interdisciplinary knowledge transfer in terms of epistemic zones and/or action clusters seeks to:
- Explicitly point out notions of inside and outside (known/unknown), instead of taking them for granted as immovable constructs. Reconfigure them, if possible, so as to move towards inclusive, rather than exclusive, territories.
- Develop situated knowledge about action clusters and dynamism.
- Detect the role of the strategies and technologies used to describe the boundaries and borders between inside and outside (or connected and disconnected).
- Include forms of knowledge that do not fit within disciplinary boundaries, on equal terms and with equal recognition.
- Visualise the circulation of different types of capital (and come up with an appropriate narrative) and their systems of legitimation. Set out the tensions and the conflicts that they may generate.
Review the specific conditions of possibility, temporalities, spaces, and trajectories of the different epistemic zones that come together in a specific project. Avoid automatically dragging in (pre)concepts learnt in the disciplinary framework, which may not be effective. In other words, recognise the limits disciplines, and accept the possibility of other forms of knowledge construction of other zones. This applies to knowledge production and also to knowledge dissemination, to the way in which the outcomes of the research results and processes will be shared (this point connects to the dissemination and transmission of outcomes).
For the full version of the original text go to The Economy of Interdisciplinary Knowledge Transfer by Vannina Hofman, Jara Rocha and Josep Perelló.
“Community” here refers to the agents who participate in a specific interdisciplinary knowledge production program. It may be useful or even necessary to include both humans and non-humans in the notion of “community” that emerges in a project. It is important to carry out the research action through the creation of a community (ideally, not a pre-existing community).
The community itself defines new inside-outsides, different to the inside-outsides of its component parts, which may be more or less permeable and may vary over time (thinking in terms of connection-disconnection). As such, the idea is to create a diverse community that is prepared to share, and to reach consensus through action. The community must negotiate its own shared code of ethics, which can be renegotiated in the course of the project. This code of ethics should be appropriate to an interdisciplinary project, and may even end up becoming one of the outcomes of the project itself, rather than just a tool. A code of ethics will generate trust and safe spaces in which to take on and share the risks of any ambitious research project.
Communities may be temporary and circumstantial, but it may be interesting to consider how a particular community can continue to exist as such beyond the occasional convergence mediated by a shared interest in a specific project. Different types of capital will come into play within the community, and the expected benefits should be explicitly stated and negotiated.
A community may also come up with frameworks and tools for negotiating competencies with other parties, such as funding bodies for example. If we start thinking in terms of zones instead of disciplines, and instead of extitutionalisation instead of institutions, we can also appraise how these funding bodies, to continue with the same example, could become an “inside”, “connected”.
In terms of economy and transfer, community poses challenges such as:
- How to produce and sustain, with changes, the ethical ties that sustain it, with a view to developing a project and communicating it, or even going beyond this.
- Increasing the number of (heterogeneous) agents that make up the community, taking into account the expectations and potentialities of each.
Minkalab is an example of a community with continuity created through an interdisciplinary project. Minkalab is based in Columbia and connects very different types of knowledge from indigenous groups, farmers, Afro-Colombian communities, and creative young people in order to develop a stable social network to create opportunities and tackle issues of local priorities in areas such as traditional and contemporary technologies, sustainable agriculture, and others that emerge in the meetings. Minkalab began in 2013 and held its third meeting this year, which was funded through a series of crowdfunding campaigns. All its activities are recorded and distributed online, in video, text, and audio format. This means that the community has flexible boundaries, and includes those who physically attend the Minkalab meetings, participants in other parts of the worlds, crowdfunding patrons, and sponsors (such as the University of Caldas).
Interruption as Continuity
For the full version of the original text go to The Economy of Interdisciplinary Knowledge Transfer by Vannina Hofman, Jara Rocha and Josep Perelló.
Our success-worshipping system does not leave much room for abandoned paths, for projects that do not attain their original objectives, for outmoded or untimely inventions. Many fields of knowledge, such as media archaeology, look back at the past in search of these cases, analyse them, and give them value, because they believe that “dead ends, losers, and inventions that never made it into a material product have important stories to tell” (Huhtamo & Parikka, 2011). Media archaeology attempts to create divergent histories that can transform the notion of history as linear progress. It recognises that research or inventions that do not appear to have been successful, or which were abandoned prematurely, may have influenced subsequent events. Or at least that acknowledging their existence can help us to construct a more complete and more complex history of socio-technical innovations, of the media, and also of art. The ongoing re-evaluation arising from the process-based dynamic of interdisciplinary projects generates spaces for reflection and renewal. For example, a community may decide to terminate the project during one of those self-valuation breaks, as long as the option was allowed for in the original negotiations. But does it make sense to simply throw away the whole process up to that point, so that the knowledge archaeologists of the future will have to reconstruct it? We need to find ways to represent and transfer knowledge related to a research project that is cut short, and to the processes leading to the termination of a project at different levels of the community and its boundaries. An unsuccessful project would then become a precedent for the community (if it continues to exist) and for other communities that try to follow similar paths. Some disciplinary traditions consider the documentation of “error” in a more positive light than others. Likewise, certain entrepreneurial sectors appear to consider the sum of previous failures to be a sine qua non for success. No matter what earlier attitudes exist, the possible interruption of the project and its conditions should ideally be placed on the table at the start of an interdisciplinary process.
An emblematic example when talking about complex systems is the Santa Fe Institute, an interdisciplinary research institute that employs very few permanent researchers, and where the first thing you are asked to do is to work in a field other then your own. This forced shift has generated supra-disciplinary methodologies, led to the application of certain disciplines in fields other than their own, and even to the invention of new disciplines. When terminating a project, it is important to consider certain aspects and the questions associated with them:
INTERRUPTION FOLLOWED BY CONTINUITY WITH CHANGES:
- Should the project be interrupted and totally discarded, or can it be recycled through some kind of “spin off”?
- Can the project be entirely or partially continued by another community?
- Can the project continue under other models (methodological and financing)?
- Is there an agreement in place about interrupting the project? Was it one of the possible scenarios negotiated at the start?
- What methods are to be used when deciding whether to interrupt and/or continue with alternatives?
- Has the community considered how to manage the costs involved in an interruption?
- Even when a project has been interrupted, is funding available for dissemination of the process and its results, even if they were not the expected outcomes?
Dissent, Dissonance, and Conflicts
In communities working on interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary projects, dissent or disagreement are likely to emerge at different points during the working process. The management of this dissent may end up taking on different overtones and it may even become a powerful strategy for creation. Generating spaces in which dissent can become creative dissonance can be a good option for some communities. But badly managed dissent can also end up turning into conflicts, which may be impossible to resolve and end up destroying the project or affecting third parties “outside” the community.
Ensuring that there is transparency in regards to what different members of the community expect for the project, and planning spaces in which to manage dissent, can be useful strategies for transforming differences into opportunities. Another option is to create highly mutable zones or spaces in which a need arises from a particular challenge, different individuals come together, collaboration and participation takes place, and then the community is disbanded. In the context of citizen science or knowledge, for example, we can think about this action-based form of science or knowledge (more like a guerrilla than an army), which is more liquid and multifaceted. This approach can involve radical experimentation with high levels of risk, but shared risk. In these cases the idea is to generate conditions that allow intense experimentation, free and without protocols, and avoid recreating the kind of laboratory that disciplines generate through their protocols.
Ethics cut through all the different spheres of interdisciplinary knowledge production and transfer. It is perhaps one of the most complex aspects. At the very least, mutual respect would be expected from all those who participate in a community. And if we consider that the community is also made up of non-human elements, this includes respecting the objects, devices, and materials that we work with, are familiar with, and operate ourselves, and those that we don't. We could call this minimum requirement the “principle of symmetry”. Other levels can then be built on this symmetry, such as showing an interest in the work of others, the need to learn, pleasure, and so on. The effectiveness of the results from the point of view of the values and expectations of each participant, which may differ, is also important. Certain values should not dismiss or belittle others. The original transparency of the expectations of the people participating in a project is essential in this sense.
A project may affect other communities, beyond the community that generates it. Each project will be different in this sense, and some will have more implications than others. These implications should also be negotiated. In any event, it is essential to build a space of trust and reciprocity, in which to take risks and produce at the same time.
Transparency and Visualisation
Transparency during the different stages of the process makes it possible to detect potential disagreements before they become unsolvable conflicts. These can include different expectations in regard to the transfer of the results of the research, for example. Transparency in processes and decisions generates trust and strengthens the community. Likewise, being aware of the grounds on which decisions are made allows participants to question them. Transparency can help to mitigate conflict and allow for creative dissonance. Participants may even have different values, which do not necessarily have to be competing.
And just as transparency is key in terms of methods and sources of data, it is also essential to disclose results (and processes, were applicable). To share data.
Transparency in validation processes is invigorating. Open peer review is an example of a participatory model that allows for interdisciplinary research.
For the full version and the original text go to Knowledge Transfer Economies by Jara Rocha.
Temporality is key when it comes to understanding and grasping the forms of knowledge that are relevant at each specific moment. As such, the research group should formulate questions in regard to the frequency and durability of these forms: - How frequently we consider reforming transfer methods and object?
Transformations can also take place at the level of recognition and legitimacy: - What are the implications of configuring a particular form of knowledge around an idea of legitimisation or delegitimisation?
Other key aspects include the dimensions of the epistemic zones, and the scales that should be used to approach them. - What remodelling mechanisms are included in a knowledge-generation project? How can we facilitate re-scaling between macro and micro zones?
Even when dimensions remain unchanged, processes of distortion may arise, so it becomes necessary to design strategies to account for them, possibly in advance, but also retroactively. For example, “track changes” in an example of a tool that keeps tabs on distortions in an onto-epistemic body. What are the motives by which each project/process accounts for its own distortions and/or the distortions of its environment?
In recent times (perhaps due to the proliferation of certain specific methods and/or tools), we have witnessed a rise in the practice of forking in knowledge-generation projects. While this can be a very useful, decisive practice in high-conflict moments, at other times it neglects the power of transformation, which can include a process of decision-making to bring about change, without going as far as a split.
Lastly, we should consider a type of transformation that takes place when knowledge is published/made explicit/released: dissemination/dispersal/information.
-Regardless of the duration, legitimacies, scales, and changes in an epistemic zone, are its means of dissemination necessarily a transformation (because of the interpretations or adaptations that take place after its dissemination)? What should be embedded in the zone, in order to facilitate, challenge, or prevent this phenomenon from occurring?
For the full version and the original text go to Knowledge Transfer Economies by Jara Rocha.
The key to understanding that knowledge is generated “on the go”, in progress, lies in accepting the process-based nature of the constitutive phenomenon of all the agents involved in the process. In identity terms, constitutive processes are the core aspect of performativity: a web of performativity develops around the identity constitutions of the agents involved. Nonetheless, this is all pointless unless there is a detailed understanding of the mechanisms and tools for negotiating these constitutive processes, and their scales of existence/affectation. So then: how do agents perform their transfers? how can this flow be perceived, up close and from afar? And, at the zoom-out scale: what transfer intersections take place, and how are the identity forms of different agents reconstituted?
In regard to the reconstitution of identity, or better still, in regard to the ongoing constitution of identity (the central aspect of performativity), there is no point in imagining clean, conscious flows. We should however consider the degrees to which the intersections are distorted, and the extent and power of promiscuous practices in an economy of based on thinking while doing in/with others.
This brings up the issue of ethics in relation to the economy of “on the go” or performative transfer: how do agents adhere to compliance with a set of gestures that are explicitly or implicitly (ideologically or hegemonically) imposed? Or how are they swept along by their path-dependence in their own thinking-learning performativity? Or, from the other perspective: how do they perpetrate disruptions or turns in this path by means of gestures that are not contemplated, inappropriate, or non-appropriable? How can we then account for compliance with and/or performative perpetration in a processual economy? What is the direction of these gestures in regard to the set of epistemic zones? Do agents voluntarily place themselves in centripetal or centrifugal channels, which move them towards the centre of pre-established ideas, or towards the margins of that which is understood?
And does performative ALWAYS mean processual? Is there room for stillness, or for “negative performativity”? Does it make sense to promote this in certain cases, in a quest for a kind of crystallisation of the system? Is this sustainable? On a scale of intelligibility of minimum objectives, is the non-transfer of new knowledge useful? Would it lead to a state of “continuing to know what we already know”?
At a certain point in the process, is there room for retroactive gestures? What about proactive gestures?
For the full version and the original text go to Knowledge Transfer Economies by Jara Rocha.
Instituting competencies are directly embedded in the conditions of possibility, but at a performative level. They refer to the capacity of each agent to form part of a transfer; in other words, they refer to “what an agent can do”.
There is a crucial characteristic: latency
openness language sustainability / durability
political conditions: autonomy / dependence / sovereignty / tyranny
Interdisciplinary Project Scenarios and Structures
- Individual - Small group informal and community driven groups - Small academic group - Large scale institutional and multi-institutional groupings - Special purpose top down instigated/funded projects – often military –ie paradigmatically, Manhattan Project.
Interdisciplinary projects can have a diverse range of organization types: hierarchical, symmetrical, collaborative. They can involve both paid and voluntary work and can be anonymous. Geographically distributed and Internet coordinated projects are increasingly common. Open source software development is a well-known case of voluntary, networked and often anonymous collaboration. This also involves development of collaborative infrastructure, ie, collaborative platforms, protocols and tools such as Codendi, Redmine, ProjectPier.
In order to find cross-disciplinary scenarios, it is interesting to look straight into the issues revolving around the individual, the collective, or the environment, leaving out the possible areas of knowledge that might contribute to solving or approaching said question.
If we set out from the idea that disciplines are not actual entities existing before humanity, we see that any subject can be approached in a cross-disciplinary manner. Conflicts emerge when we try to understand our surroundings through our own limitations and end up fragmenting knowledge according to the strategies used to access that knowledge. Such limitations have led us to create disciplines , and to try to solve our problems from the perspective of one discipline or another, giving more weight to the discipline and the strategies belonging to it than to the actual problem and/or the knowledge emerging from that problem's solution. Each discipline (and its methodology) has led to different results on any given topic, and the human obsession for results has made it difficult to establish transdisciplinarity as a natural approach.
We came up with two types of profile needed to carry out a transdisciplinary project: transdisciplinary profiles per se, and profiles from different disciplines with a strong interest, motivation, and flexibility towards other disciplines.
Those who are already in themselves transdisciplinary have, throughout their lifetime, been immersed in more than one environment which has caused a strong impact on them, making it difficult to classify them as members of a single discipline. Their knowledge is not usually focused on depth or detail, but on inter-relationships and the overall picture. These people are very useful within a transdisciplinary project because they easily act as a bridge or as “translators”, and because transdisciplinarity emerges in them spontaneously and naturally.
People who, though defending their own discipline, want to touch upon new disciplines in order to deal with a topic, must be flexible (not believe in one single reality), respectful (capable of seeing value in different approaches), and brave (have no fear of surprising results, and capable of getting past misunderstandings). These people will be able to contribute more detailed knowledge and more defined strategies. These transdisciplinary projects may or may not include the general public.
There are many types of transdisciplinary projects. We will describe and comment below on three examples in accordance with the different features discussed in this text, and during the workshops organised by Hangar.
The L_ENTES project was a proposal for a contemporary dance show, initiated and directed by the artists and dancers Iris Heitzinger and Natalia Jimenez, in collaboration with La Mandarina de Newton S.L. as scientific advisors. The project was based on the convergence of four disciplines: dance and movement -as the body's overall language-, science and maths -particularly concepts of traditional mechanics, optics, and relativist physics-, lighting -as an independent art form-, and sound.
The project originated in questions revolving around themes that in preoccupy these disciplines in one way or another: space, time, light, sound, and human perception. In all performing arts processes, the concepts of space, time, light, sound, and movement are present, usually as vehicles of expression. This time, however, the focus was consciously directed towards these concepts, turning them into the main protagonists. Physics and maths have always dealt with the concepts of time, space, light, and sound. These concepts are also present in our daily lives and generate the perception of our environment. As a result, this scenario led to the following questions: What do we perceive? How do we perceive it? Where is the border between reality and illusion? What reactions are provoked in the observer when he is invited to explore the limit between the natural and the artificial, between nature and art?
This was a transdisciplinary project with a specific starting point: the concepts of space, time, light, sound, and human perception were dealt with through different fields of knowledge interested in these concepts. Although the form each piece would take, and what would happen during the creative process, was unknown in this case (which is common in creative processes), we did expect there to be a contemporary dance piece that would fit in Barcelona's NEO Festival. From an artistic standpoint, the results were interesting, the piece was in fact nominated for the Dansacat Prizes, organised by the Association of Dance Professionals of Catalonia (ApdC), whose aim is to acknowledge, encourage, and promote the work of dance professionals in Catalonia. But perhaps what was missing was a broader component of exchange at many levels, and in particular in the area of the sciences and/or mathematics.
SCIENCE OF THE CITY
SCIENCE OF THE CITY is a multi-faceted project, with three editions so far. Its starting point has always been a video competition that hoped to bring science closer to the audience’s daily experience. The project was conceived and directed by La Mandarina de Newton, with various collaborators and sponsors such as the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT), the La Caixa Foundation, Barcelona's city council, the Tech Museum in San José, Paris-Montagne, and Arts Santa Mònica.
For the first edition, participants were invited to send music videos, for which there were three categories: discovery, questions, and experimentation. These categories echoed some of the phases in scientific methodology. An international jury and the audience’s offline votes selected the best clips. All the videos presented were analysed and categorised according to a research process open to both artists and scientists. In collaboration with the latter, an exhibition of participative ArtScience was created, produced by Hangar. It was installed at Arts Santa Mónica, La Mandarina de Newton’s space, and the space of the Regional Government of Extremadura.
The second edition experienced some changes based on the lessons learned in the first one. There were only two categories: questions and proposals. The best videos were selected in the same way as in the first edition. The questions and proposals sent by the participants were shared with various science and technology research centres. We organised co-creation workshops with researchers from the Donders Institute (Nilmegen, The Netherlands) and the winning participants. In this way, both groups defined and shared a research process that concluded with a science paper presented at a Youth Science Congress.
In the third edition, the contestants contributed with videos that, according to them, connected science or technology to their cities. Part of this material was then turned into a TV program (Science of the City) by the Xarxa de Television network in Spain.
This was a transdisciplinary project with an open and participatory outlook, which included the views of the supposed public from the start. Each edition included a collaboration with a different collective: artists, architects, designers, researchers, or moving image professionals. Although the final format had been pre-defined, the process included an element of uncertainty, and nurtured artists, scientists, moving image professionals, or science communicators. The research process, directed by Ramon Sangüesa, was framed by different fields of study, whilst its results were applied to different spaces. The dialogue process between disciplines, on the other hand, was not carried out in a single space or time, but was instead spread out in various phases so that the content, and not so much the people, travelled and mingled.
The project received recognition for best practices in the field of science communication from the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT), and was presented at numerous meetings, conferences, and congresses.
LIVE SYSTEMS. CHRISTA SOMMERER & LAURENT MIGNONNEAU
LIVE SYSTEMS. CHRISTA SOMMERER & LAURENT MIGNONNEAU was the first retrospective exhibition of this artist duo. It was inaugurated on the 1st of June of 2011 by the science department at Arts Santa Mónica, directed by Josep Perelló. La Mandarina de Newton collaborated, together with Pati Homs, in the design and execution of the educational activities associated with the exhibition. The project offered the possibility to experience, in a participatory way, works that were closely connected to the study of live systems: Eau de Jardin, Phototropy, Life Spaces II, Mobile Feelings y A-Volveré.
Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau are two of the most recognised and innovative artists within the international field of media and interactive art. Their work naturally and intuitively develops interactive interfaces that put into practice the principles of live systems theories associated with ecology, artificial life, and the study of complex systems. Ricard Solé also collaborated in the development of the scientific vocabulary needed to understand artists’ virtual ecosystems.
Fractals, It's not all in the genes, and Phototropism, were some of the proposals that attempted to bring us closer to the scientific elements hiding amongst the works of this interesting art and science exhibition. The three workshops and their numerous variations were intimately connected to the works Eau de Jardin, Life Spaces II, A-Volveré and Phototropy. The dialogue between science, art, and design, was very important during the process of creation and production.
This project originated in an artist duo who were transdisciplinary artists to begin with, and was enriched by transdisciplinary collaborators. The boundaries between areas of knowledge were blurred, and although the resulting exhibition was expected, the creative process in the workshops did shifted and evolved along the way. The results obtained reached different disciplines and inspired and nourished very different types of audiences.
There are many different scenarios within which transdisciplinary projects may take place. It is important to keep in mind the complexity and the interrelations inherent in what we wish to address. This complexity will naturally bring us closer to transdisciplinarity.
It is important, on the other hand, to look for a good hybrid team that includes transdisciplinary people, as they will act as bridges and mediators between the various fields of knowledge, but also people who will defend a specific cognitive field more incisively, but still hold values of flexibility, respect, and permeability. There is also the possibility of including users, audiences, or external participants.
Finally, it is very important to define the phases the project will have and how the different agents will connect. It is more interesting to try to choose projects with a margin of uncertainty in their final results, as well as projects that might affect, to a greater or lesser degree, more than one discipline. The maximum degree of transdisciplinarity would be to obtain not just a new and unexpected result, but to create an altogether new heuristic field made up of a combination of pre-existing disciplines. This field would then have a new language, new methodology, new practice, etc. This is what probably happened when maths, physics, electronics, engineering, telecommunications, design, etc. were combined, giving birth to computing.
- Fields of action. Discipline
- Visualisation and transparency
- Social responsability
- Transformation. Displacement
Approaching research in a cross-disciplinary manner
By Roc Parés
Approaching research in a cross-disciplinary manner involves questioning the limits of knowledge:
-The limits of different fields of knowledge, which are constantly expanding.
-The limits of unexplored spaces between various fields of knowledge, which are constantly contracting.
-The limits between research and other processes that accompany it in the chain of value; education, experimentation, production, dissemination ,and reception.
-The limits between proprietary knowledge and knowledge commons.
-The limits between academic, corporate, and independent research.
-The limits between current regulations and values developed through social responsibility.
-The limits between the standardisation of disciplinary knowledge (for example: UNESCO nomenclature for fields of science and technology) and the epistemic areas of action they are associated with.
-The limits between knowledge transferability and the market economy funding the project.
-The limits between knowledge legibility and deficits in education.
The overcoming of these limits would imply a utopian scenario, close to the principles of freedom, equality, and fraternity of the French Revolution, and of the social emancipation that, in Catalonia, has direct precursors in the Escola Moderna and the work of Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia.
Not overcoming these limits leads to the privatisation of knowledge, social exclusion, and the hoarding of symbolic capital typical of enlightened despotism.
(Non) inventory of (im)possible stages for cross-trans-multi-disciplinar-ity
by Pau Alsina
A stage delineates a zone of action and defines the limits of what will happen inside it, but it also inevitably draws up an exterior -off scene- that tends to be as, or more important than, the stage itself. Could we dare to imagine a specific stage for cross-trans-multi-disciplinary collaboration? How should that stage be? How about the outside that it delineates? What sort of stage are we talking about? Is it an Italian stage, an Elizabethan one, an arena, or does it adopt the shape of a lab or a black box? In short, what are the theatrical elements that might boost the cross-disciplinary creativity we are looking for?
The truth is that these questions open up new ones that lie hovering above them: Do stages exist before scenes, and thus shape them? Or is it the scene itself that makes and articulates the stage? There is clearly a relation of interdependence between the elements involved, and we should be able to establish which elements matter in this interrelation. If there has been such a range of stage configurations throughout history, it is because they belong to different dramatic practices and theories that draw attention to particular elements. If we were to translate this into the stage of cross-disciplinary collaboration, we would say that there are as many stages as there are practices or theories of knowledge.
After over twenty years working on projects described as “cross-disciplinary”, we have observed multiple and varied configurations of people, objects, spaces, time, contexts, and disciplines. It might be true that these could be grouped into stage types, bringing into play this or that semantic-material actor, and although this would add something to protocol, the truth is that the stages are still anchored to a space and time that produces a very specific alignment of actors, resulting in very concrete results.
One of the things that myself, and other members of cross-disciplinary projects I have participated in, have paradoxically invested most time in is in explaining ourselves in relation to others, and to our own original disciplines, in order to understand one another and make fluid communication possible. This traditional act of “giving an explanation”, always emerges at some point -sometimes explicitly, sometimes implicitly-, no matter how hard we try to avoid it and go straight into action, as a sort of saving board for the complex ins and outs of the onto-epistemology hovering above us. Every cross-disciplinary collaborative process seems to generate an unavoidable act of reflection and analysis connected to one's own production, and one's position within the framework that sustains the project under development. We could perhaps say that collaboration allows us to get to know ourselves better, or that cross-disciplines allow us to better understand the disciplines themselves.
It could be that, although some would say there is no pre-established “being” or “knowing” within disciplines and cross-disciplines, it is instead a becoming and a knowing that draws out an ethical-onto-epistemology in constant process and evolution, as if it were a structure, building itself with no beginning or end. A map does not build a territory, in cross-disciplines or in the discipline itself, because the paths to be walked are many and varied, according to starting point, time chosen, or the speed and direction taken, for example. If we look at it from a broad historical perspective, at the end of the day, what defines a discipline's borders? What are the limits of a discipline? When does one begin and another end? Which feeds off which? Or, should we reduce cross-disciplinarity to a mother discipline from which the rest of the disciplines feed off?
I recall an infinite number of bachelor or master thesis projects where a supposedly cross-disciplinary, naïve approach would transform the question itself, making it jump from one discipline to another, using a methodological excuse thanks to the complacent epistemological complex present ever present in the arts. I remember many other research projects that would apply to cross-discipline research competitions, year after year. Open calls where key words were like absolute mantras for salvation, and evaluations were based upon them. Terms such as “cross-discipline” itself, which, once used as a common cliché, lost its meaning, turned into ends in themselves regardless of the objectives or the results obtained.
I remember how during the process of questioning between artists, scientists, and technologists, the same ideas about what art, science, or technology in action were to those involved would emerge, as if they had a single, static, fixed definition that was never questioned, except when addressed by the others. The presumptions regarding the field of knowledge itself, as well as prejudices regarding others, allow us to draw out maps of conflict, consensus, or dissensus, where spaces for collaboration may be articulated. I remember the efforts made to translate basic conceptual vocabulary in order to create areas of communication between disciplines from which to think, from which to think oneself. I remember cases where cross-disciplinarity just happened, perhaps due to the lack of discipline of the disciplined, through the a-disciplinary interstices opened up by questions, or because questions don't know about disciplines, they only know about fragmented answers that might piece back together the broken mirror of knowledge.
6.1. Appendix 1: List of participants in the writing of the Protocol
- Swen Seebach
WIRKT: Workshop on Interdisciplinary Research and Knowledge Transfer
- Pau Alsina
- Roc Parés
- Arantxa Mendiharat
- Alicia Vela
- Eloi Puig
- Boryana Rosa
- Maria PTQK
- Rubén Martínez
- Laia Blasco
- Joan Subirats
- Clara Piazuelo
- Marcos García
- Maria Solbes
- Reimund Fickert
- Tere Badia
- Michael Edel
- Alfons Martinell
- Swen Seebach
- Stella Veciana
- Fernando Vilariño
- Laura Benítez
- Dan Norton
- Quelic Berga
- Andreu Belsunces
- Gerard Vilar
- Pol Capdevila
- Josep Perelló
- Irma Vilà
- Montserrat Pareja
- Marta Gracia
- Vanina Hofman
- Luz Santos
WgIRKT: Writing group on Interdisciplinary Research and Knowledge Transfer
- Ramon Sangüesa
- Irene Lapuente
- Stella Veciana
- Laura Benítez
- Jara Rocha
- Josep Perelló
- Vanina Hofman
- Roc Parés
- Swen Seebach
- Tere Badia
- Mariona Moncunill
- Marta Gracia
- Anna Moreno
- Reimund Fickert
- Pau Alsina
Appendix 2: General reference Texts, examples of methodological critique
- RESEARCH ARTS sept 2013 It includes recent papers by Penny, Parés and Seebach : What do we mean with interdisciplinarity and why do we care? By Simon Penny A physicist, a sociologist and an artist come into a bar... - What is the impact of humor on different types interdisciplinary projects? By Swen Seebach. The cultural relevance of interdisciplinarity in the context of an unsustainable technified hyper-consumeristic society. By Roc Parés.
- Hubert Dreyfus – What computers still can’t do. - Philip Agre – Lessons Learned in Trying to Reform AI - Emily Martin- The Egg and the Sperm. - Anthony Chemero - Rat behavior experiments (need ref) - Ed Vul - Voodoo correlations in FMRI studies. http://www.edvul.com/voodoocorr.php - Voodoo Correlations are everywhere http://pps.sagepub.com/content/6/2/163 "In general, paradigms can be understood as conventional setups for producing idealized, inflated effects."
- White Paper on the Interrelation of Art, Science and Technology in Spain. (Even though the economical historical context has changed a lot since the mid 90's I still suggest reading the Conclusions and Recommendations in pages 149 to 154. RP- need ref)
- ONTOLOGY AND ANTIDISCIPLINARITY Andrew Pickering in A Barry and G Born (eds), interdisciplinarity: reconfigurations of the natural and social sciences.
- ART-SCIENCE From public understanding to public experiment Georgina Born and Andrew Barry. Journal of Cultural Economy, Vol. 3, No. 1, March 2010 ISSN 1753-0350 print/1753-0369 online/10/010103-17 – 2010 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/17530351003617610
Appendix 3: Examples of interdisciplinary (art/design) projects
- Crowd memo – pampas project 
- Center for postnatural history 
- Protei 
- Crochet coral reef 
- Coal powered computer. Harwood.
Appendix 4: Some examples of interdisciplinary sustainability projects, Living labs, citizen science, studies of embodied practices, etc.
"The Cook, the Farmer, His Wife and Their Neighbour", Amsterdam, 2009.
A participatory project by the Slovene artist and architect Marjetica Potrč (b. 1953) and Wilde Westen, a group of young designers, architects and cultural producers, combines visual art and social architecture to redefine the village green.  This initiative transformed a public non-walkable green space into a common scale vegetable garden, and an unused room at Lodewijk van Deysselstraat 61 into a neighbourhood kitchen. This bottom-up organization of urban landscape gave the neighbours access to and use of public property, and therefore questioned the exclusion of access (e.g. the kijkgroen) associated with the regime of private property. The project raised the question of the commons, and of the ability of user communities to define effective access and usage rules. 
Pia Lanzinger."Petzer Freedom", 2011.
Petze, a village in Lower Saxony, experimented a development from an original farming village to a housing development in a catchment area of a large city. Car mobility and changing habits have caused a loss of communicative structures. Some villagers missed therefore an informal meeting place in the village, partly because Petze as a "street village" has never had a village square. The project "Petzer Freedom" picked up this request by initiating the design of an appropriate place. Step by step, through various events, actions and installation interventions the shape the village square became a form and was established as an open space. With a proposal for the structural transformation an additional input for further use and appropriation was given, that remain left to the residents. 
Science shops, as small entities that carry out scientific research in a wide range of disciplines – usually free of charge and – on behalf of citizens and local civil society. The fact that Science shops respond to civil society’s needs for expertise and knowledge is a key element that distinguish them from other knowledge transfer mechanisms.
Different types of interfaces exist between researchers and society, one of which are the ‘Science Shops’, organisations created as mediators between citizen groups (trade unions, pressure groups, non-profit organisations, social groups, environmentalists, consumers, residents association etc.) and research institutions (universities, independent research facilities). Science shops are important actors in community-based research (CBR). There are many differences in the way Science Shops are organised and operate, as well as some important parallels. 
The international Living Knowledge Network (LK) aims at giving citizens access to scientific research. The network is for people interested in building partnerships for public access to research. Members of the network exchange information, documentation, ideas, experiences and expertise on community-based research and science and society relations in general. 
The PERARES (Public Engagement with Research And Research Engagement with Society) project aims to strengthen the interaction between researchers and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and citizens in Europe. 26 partners from 17 countries (Science Shops, social organizations, universities and a research funder) will jointly organize transnational debates on scientific research and set up new Science Shops in 10 European cities. The project runs from 2010 until 2014.
Science Shop Bonn, WILA Bonn: "Outrage over the fact that scientists conduct their research in their ivory tower to no benefit of the public gave students and scientists the impulse to create the Wissenschaftsladen Bonn in 1984. Since then it has been our goal to bridge the gap between scientific findings on one hand and questions by the layperson on the other. With 30 employees and a turnover of about two million Euros our non-profit organization has never been this successful. In addition, it is also the largest science shop worldwide."
The Science Gallery in Dublin, - a 'science gallery' shopfront by the university. 
Machine project in LA is a grassroots organising center running workshops on everything from circuit bending to fallen fruit.
Center for PostNatural History, Pittsburgh.
"Volpelleres Library Living Lab Project"
A question to be raised within the Library Living Lab Project project would be how to find new ways to deal with the stored knowledge of libraries but also of collections and archives of scientific obejcts. "RE-VALUING ARCHIVES" of knowledge to pioneer new views on the problems of the 21st century. You can find an article about this issue here: "What does an ethnographical museum have in common with a museum of natural history? How does the methods and procedures used to examine the ‘scientific objects’ in their collections compare. The article examines scientific objects, such as stuffed animals, which have been taken out of the context of their historical archives. It also studies how ethnological artefacts, such as weapons, are liberated from the patina of their colonial past. The trend to re-evaluating archives is illustrated by two examples. Firstly, by introducing the research of visual artist Richard Schütz. His work not only alters the meaning of artefacts from collections through visual storytelling, but also encourage us to envision their future. Secondly, the innovative concept of the exhibition "Object Atlas" of the Weltkulturen Museum / Frankfurt is presented, where innovative research methods have enabled artists and museum staff to take on new roles in their research relationship. Both approaches show how collections can further develop their potential to pioneer new views on the problems of the 21st century."
a) how could we foster a library profile activating participation in sustainability issues
b) how can we add the local people stories and experiences: Volpelleres storytelling, this gives the people a possibility to make a dissemination of their local projects and to get engaged in the library project
c) how can local people get involved in political processes, into the development of a more deliberative democracy than the present representative model: Volpelleres delegates, specific people become delegates of their concerns, scientists help them to develop their problems, and mediators empower them to talk and negotiate directly with local politicians. They get a course in capacity building to look through the eyes of politicians to discuss for instance sustainability issues and conflicts, to develop their own view on political policies.
A key goal would be to link the Library Living Lab Project to the UAB Campus: how could we foster a library profile capable of translating the public demands on research and to make scientific results accessible to questions raised by the civil society.
"…Encyclopaedia of Handling shows my artistic research as a part of the working process. In the course of this long-term project I am thus building up an archival collection in order to show the current and future working and production conditions that determine social practices."
Phil Niblock THE MOVEMENTS OF PEOPLE WORKING, 1974 
Niblock’s films and videos play an important role in his presentations. His films portray human labour in its most elementary form. Construction work, harvesting, planting and fishing – physical exertion, with the help of basic tools. They are scenes of people in non-industrialized communities doing manual labour involving continually repeated movements, while their faces are often kept outside the frame.
Appendix 5: Full texts of the Writing Group on Interdisciplinary Research and Knowledge Transfer - WgIRKT