Mapping Interdisciplinary Expertise

Learning to co-create knowledge across disciplines
A research program investigating how research communities create interdisciplinary knowledge, how interdisciplinary teams learn, and what it takes for individuals to tackle interdisciplinary challenges.

Complex real-world problems do not align neatly with academic disciplines.

Many advances in knowledge production and application depend on high-trust interdisciplinary collaborations requiring sustained interactions between academic researchers and the many other people and organisations involved in designing, making and testing systems, services and products.

Working across disciplinary boundaries is very challenging, requiring capabilities that are often ill-defined and learnt by trial and error.

Our goals

With a focus on research in Multidisciplinary Research Centres, this project seeks to better understand:

  • What exactly constitutes the expertise needed to work across disciplinary boundaries
  • How researchers and university students learn to work across disciplines and develop this expertise
  • How to better support the development of interdisciplinary expertise in research teams and university courses

What we do

We study interdisciplinary work and learning holistically at three interconnected levels:

  • At macro sociocultural level we investigate how interdisciplinary cultures form and function
  • At meso socio-material level we study how interdisciplinary teams co-create shared practices and environments for joint work
  • At micro socio-cognitive level we research how individual team members develop the personal resourcefulness needed to contribute productively to interdisciplinary work

This project builds on our earlier work researching professional learning for knowledgeable action and innovation—the outcomes of which were summarised in the book “Epistemic Fluency and Professional Education”.

We also use innovative co-design methods to co-create, test and disseminate practical resources that capture successful practice.

Funding and support

This research has been funded by the Australian Government through the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Project  “Developing interdisciplinary expertise in universities: Learning to co-create knowledge across disciplinary boundaries in laboratories and courses" (DP200100376), 2020-2024. This research is also part of Sydney Nano Catalyst projects.

Project lead

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