Academic journal article European Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies

Interdisciplinary Research in Action. the Case of the University "Constantin Brancoveanu" of Pitesti

Academic journal article European Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies

Interdisciplinary Research in Action. the Case of the University "Constantin Brancoveanu" of Pitesti

Article excerpt

1. Introduction: Interdisciplinarity vs. trans-, cross-, pluri- and multi-disciplinarity

Interdisciplinary thinking is rapidly becoming an integral feature of research as a result offour powerful "drivers the inherent complexity of nature and society, the desire to explore problems and questions that are not confined to a single discipline, the need to solve societal problems, and the power of new technologies.

(Stehr N., Weingart P., 2000)

The roots of the "interdisciplinary" concept lie in a number of ideas that resonate throughout the modern discourse: the ideas of a unified science, general knowledge, synthesis and the integration of knowledge. In the XXth century, interdisciplinarity was reinforced by the demand of universities to renew themselves; in respect to this, OECD called an international conference on interdisciplinarity and presented its own definition over it in 1972: "Interdisciplinary - an adjective describing interaction among two or more different disciplines. This interaction may range from simple communication of ideas to the mutual integration of organizing, concepts, methodology, procedures, epistemology, terminology, data and organization of research and education in a fairly large field. An interdisciplinary group consists of persons trained in different field of knowledge - disciplines - with different concepts, methods and data and terms organized into a common effort on a common problem with continuous intercommunication among the participants from different disciplines" (apud. Lattuca R. Lisa, 2001).

To Romanian professor George Väideanu we should recognize the merit of distinguishing between related concepts, in a paper published under UNESCO in 1985: * Transdisciplinarity is a state of complete balance of influence between all relevant participating disciplines at the highest possible level of coordination. * Interdisciplinary is somewhat weaker than transdisciplinarity in coordination or cross-communication. The balance of influence, however, of the respective disciplines, is upheld. The overall impact of the quantitative and qualitative elements in not strong enough to establish a new discipline. * Cross-disciplinarity deviates from interdisciplinarity in both the qualitative and quantitative senses. One discipline dominates the others and is the one that establishes all important premises. * Pluri-disciplinarity is characterized by the fact that communication takes places between various disciplines, but the contact may be weaker or more sporadic than in cross-disciplinarity. * Multi-disciplinarity is the least developed form of interdisciplinarity. The communication between disciplines is reduced to a maximum. Projects are often complementary to each other. To conclude, interdisciplinarity is a form of cooperation between disciplines to solve problems that can be solved only through the convergence and prudent combination of different points of views. It implies a certain amount of integration between different areas of knowledge and between different approaches and the development of a common language so as to enable conceptual and methodological exchanges to take place" (Väideanu G., 1985).

Although interdisciplinarity is somewhat weaker than transdisciplinarity in coordination or cross-communication, its level of complexity is also very high because equilibrium between disciplines should be maintained on a continuous basis. On the other hand, any interdisciplinary project should find a common language that all participants should be able to use. The task of the manager of an interdisciplinary project is doubled by the obligation to create harmony between participants in the team. That is why specialists recommend the identification of possible barriers as the starting point in any interdisciplinary research project (Birnbaum M., Rossini F., Baldwin D., 1990): i. "disciplinary" barriers (participants in interdisciplinay teams have, in most of the cases, a disciplinary affiliation, they tend to protect against possible "rivals". …

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