By Gabriele Bammer
In a recent special issue of the journal Nature on interdisciplinarity (17 September 2015, p313-315), Rick Rylance criticised “arcane debates about whether research is inter-, multi-, trans-, cross- or post-disciplinary”, opining “I find this faintly theological hair-splitting unhelpful.” Does he have a point?
Rylance was discussing these distinctions in the context of research funding, especially relating to effective funding and evaluation of… well, what are we talking about and what are we going to call it? That’s the nub of the problem. For now, let’s stick with the term used by Rylance, namely “interdisciplinarity”.
Rylance also introduced a current project of the Global Research Council, which is comprised of the heads of science and engineering funding agencies from around the world. The Global Research Council has selected interdisciplinarity as one of its two annual themes for an in-depth report, debate and statement between now and mid-2016.