Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

100 'Global Minds' Who Have Crossed Subject Frontiers

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

100 'Global Minds' Who Have Crossed Subject Frontiers

Article excerpt

An Italian dean has created an A to Z of interdisciplinarity. Matthew Reisz writes

A new book celebrates 100 of the academics, artists and activists who have been boldest in crossing disciplinary boundaries.

The project is the brainchild of Gianluigi Ricuperati, dean and creative director of the Domus Academy in Milan, a private postgraduate school of design that describes itself as "a living laboratory, an incubator of talents and a springboard for interdisciplinary adventures".

In today's world, he told Times Higher Education, "the most exciting ideas come in the liminal and interstitial spaces between disciplines. The digital revolution forces us all to think in terms of numbers, pictures and words. That is why the world, including the academic world, has become less rigid."

To compile the list that forms the basis for 100 Global Minds: The Most Daring Cross-disciplinary Thinkers in the World, Mr Ricuperati asked a number of young people with a deep interest in arts and culture to offer their suggestions. All were under 25, he explained, so that they had fewer "links to the professional world and could offer a pure choice based on observation and free judgement".

Mr Ricuperati added some ideas of his own but also enlisted the help of Francesco Vaccarino, a mathematician teaching at the Polytechnic University of Turin, as the book explains, to "design an algorithm that was able to detect the number of times that a name is mentioned on the internet in an environment different from their own". This enabled them to assess each of their thinkers in relation to 10 separate subject areas - arts and humanities, architecture, business, education, engineering, law, life sciences, medicine, physics, mathematics and social sciences - and "calculate the probability distribution of finding a link associating their name with each of the disciplines". …

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