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CCIG Forum 34 - Methods on the line

Thursday, 23 October 2014, 10:30 - 16:30

The Open University, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA (Christodoulou Meeting Room 11)

Enactments / Psychosocial

This CCIG forum, co-organised by the Enactments and the Psycho-Social research Programmes aims at exploring how transdisciplinarity works at the level of methods.

The boundaries between the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences are being reconfigured in multi-disciplinary, cross-disciplinary and inter-disciplinarity activities. At the same time, the boundaries between institutions of knowledge production (like universities) and their wider social environments (including private enterprise, state systems and NGOs) are being reconfigured in practices associated with public engagement and socio-economic impact. As this happens, so the concept of transdisciplinarity emerges as a key political, economic, social and scientific preoccupation (see Barry and Born, 2013, Pohl & Hirsch Hadorn, 2007).

Disciplines are cultural formations that function as agencies for the production, dissemination and application of specialist knowledge. They supply those who are trained in them with disciplined practices, socially recognized forms of authority (capable, for example, of annexing resources), distinct forms of professional identity, and so forth (Stenner, 2014). Disciplinarity frees up resources for specialization, but it has long been recognized that specialization comes at the price of institutionalized limitations with respect to authorized questions, methods and other practices. Interdisciplinarity and the family of terms closely associated with it are part of a theoretical and practical desire and effort to move beyond the limitations of disciplines, and this effort can be marked by the word transdisciplinarity. CCIG, for example, encourages transdisciplinarity to the extent that its members strive to integrate a concern with governance, regulation and politics with a concern with identity, subjectivity and experience.

Since discussion of transdisciplinarity often takes a rather abstract and idealized form, this forum focuses on techniques and explores transdisciplinarity at the level of methods: how is transdisciplinarity done?

By using the word technique we do not restrict ourselves to a limited notion of method as a specific procedure (such as discourse analysis or analysis of variance). Instead we include a range of questions concerning, for example, the skills required to become a transdisciplinary researcher (Klein, 2008), the methodological challenges faced by those who engage in what they call transdisciplinary research (Pohl and Hirsch Hadorn, 2008, Ison, 2008), the practices that are actually engaged with in the name of interdisciplinary research and activity (Barry and Born, 2013), or the ‘devices’ that are emerging in critical transdisciplinary circles (Lury and Wakeford, 2012). A common feature of transdisciplinary techniques at each of these registers is the problem of how to manage the complexity, uncertainty and liminality associated with the crossing and blurring of boundaries. It is this feature that we draw attention to with our main title: methods on the line.

Confirmed Speakers:

Celia Lury (University of Warwick) -- The problem spaces of transdisciplinarity: questions of collaboration and critique

Johanna Motzkau (OU) -- Transdisciplinary matters: Reflections on researching practice as process

Martin Reynolds (OU) -- (Critical) systems thinking as praxis for transdisciplinarity



10:45-11:00: Welcome Director CCIG and introduction to the forum by Paul Stenner and Jef Huysmans


Celia Lury (University of Warwick): The problem spaces of transdisciplinarity: questions of collaboration and critique

Chair: Jef Huysmans

Discussant: Paul Stenner

12:30-13:30 Lunch


Johanna Motzkau (OU): Transdisciplinary matters: Reflections on researching practice as process

Chair: Kesi Mahendran

Discussant: Des Fitzgerald (Kings College London)

14:30-15:00: Coffee and Tea


Martin Reynolds (OU): (Critical) systems thinking as praxis for transdisciplinarity

Chair: Paul Stenner

Discussant: Jef Huysmans

16:00-16:30: Concluding remarks and questions: transdisciplinarity and CCIG



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