Oxford Handbook of Interdisciplinarity. Robert Frodeman, Julie Thompson Klein, and Carl Mitcham, eds.
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Over the last century the tremendous development of disciplinary expertise – by one count, now totaling more than 4000 specialties – has bred a complementary demand for synoptic and synthesizing perspectives on knowledge. Academics, policy makers, and citizens at large are asking for methods and approaches to help organize (or limit) the incredible amounts of knowledge being produced, both within research (in problem identification as well as solution) and at all levels of education. Such activities in education have been complemented by growing emphases on collaborative processes and teamwork in the corporate sector, and in rising concern for more consensus building and networking in national and international political affairs.
The need to identify a method or logic of interdisciplinarity has, however, proven to be much easier to proclaim than to meet. The most salient characteristics of interdisciplinary studies across the last 60 years have been oscillations among
a) The announcement of the need for interdisciplinary approaches to knowledge;
b) Historically naive attempts to reinvent the interdisciplinary wheel, ending in partial accomplishment and frustration;
c) Then periods of abandonment, followed by
d) New recognition that the continued development and use of disciplinary knowledge makes interdisciplinary approaches to research and education ever more crucial.
The Oxford Handbook of Interdisciplinarity introduces a greater degree of order into the field of interdisciplinary research, education, and practice by creating a work that will become the bible for all future attempts at interdisciplinarity. Along with its review of academic work, it will also seek to draw out relations for the promotion of collaborative activities in other areas of social life, from work and business to law and government.
This handbook offers
1. a historical survey of attempts at interdisciplinarity,
2. a review of successes and failures within both research and education and across the sciences and the humanities, and
3. a set of best practices that will serve as the launching point for future explorations of interdisciplinarity.
HOI consists of 37 chapters dealing with such topics as the history of interdisciplinarity; different forms of interdisciplinarity (cross-disciplinarity, multi-disciplinarity, transdisciplinarity, antidisciplinarity, postdisciplinarity, etc.); interdisciplinarity in the sciences, social sciences, humanities, and arts; and methods and difficulties in the practice of interdisciplinarity. Because it conceives of interdisciplinarity in a broad sense, the handbook also includes chapters on teamwork, partnerships, and collaborative agreements - all of these both inside and outside the university. Interdisciplinarity is as important outside academia as within, and in fact is a primary means of bridging the university/public divide.