FEDORA's main objective is to align science education with the fast-changing society and with Research & Innovation

We are living in “the society of acceleration and uncertainty” (Hartmut Rosa).
Within it, we are observing the rising of:
  • New "disciplines"Climatology, artificial intelligence, data science & computation, digital humanities...
  • New modus operandi of science research and its communicationMulti-actor, inter-multi-trans-disciplinary and open science

This brings new challenges to current forms of organization and transmission of knowledge, but our educational systems often remain rigid and do not appear able to keep the pace of change. As a result, a serious gap emerges between what the traditional educational organisations are producing and what society requires. In order to equip young people with the skills needed to address current and future societal challenges, we believe it is crucial to try and align the traditional educational institutions (both school systems and universities) with the ways R&I is produced,

identifying the limits of discipline-based knowledge organisation and proposing new ways to address them through interdisciplinarity.

To innovate science education for the era of acceleration we need to support universities and schools to recognise and break down the institutional, conceptual, social, professional, epistemological and cultural barriers to science and social innovation induced by a vertical disciplinary organisation. This way they can be able to develop, in the young generation, inter-multi-transdisciplinary thinking skills needed to grapple with the new methods and features of R&I and play an active role in our society.

What knowledge, skills, attitudes and values will today's students need to thrive in and shape their world?
How can instructional systems develop these knowledge, skills, attitudes and values effectively?

Questions launched by the OECD Future of Education and Skills 2030 project.

FEDORA has gathered inputs from a variety of voices to propose recommendations for co-teaching and open schooling. Preliminary findings came from three-part studies using literature review, interviews and interdisciplinary study groups. From this data,  three “shared narratives” arose.

A narrative about barriers and "boundary people"

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A narrative about crossing boundaries and facilitating interdisciplinarity

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A narrative about interdisciplinary attitudes and skills

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An idea that produced a  great resonance in the study group was realising that interdisciplinarity in STEM means more than managing tensions, it also considers managing balance. What are the tensions that we are talking about? Tensions between belonging and not belonging, defining or negotiating meanings, going in or out of a comfort zone, zooming in and zooming out -from details to big pictures and vice versa. 

By managing balance, we mean managing a particular kind of equilibrium between what we call “sense-making skills” -systems, critical, analytical thinking- and “strange-making skills” -creative, imaginative, anticipative thinking.

Informed by the papers of Akkerman and Bakker on boundary crossing and objects, and by the Family Resemblance Approach, developed by Sibel Erduran, Zoubeida R. Dagher and colleagues, we framed the space where we started our exploratory journey. 

We got inspired by the Gaelic word "meitheal", which means the spirit of cooperation and sharing between neighbours which is that wonderful mixture of downright common-sense and imaginative understanding, by which communities survive and thrive.  Also by the performances of Gandini Juggling company and by the city of Euphemia, described by Italo Calvino in his book “The invisible cities”.

By exploring the multi-dimensional roles of disciplines, the barriers they create, and their pros in structuring reasoning and mediating the interaction, we reached a deepened understanding of each role. We then challenged ourselves by wondering what attitudes and skills are needed to accept the risk of crossing boundaries and have an authentic experience as “boundary people”. 

Let’s “experience the boundaries” together, let’s melt our experiences, and let’s meet at the city of Euphemia, where the merchants of seven nations gather at every solstice and equinox.

"...summoning up your memories one by one, your wolf will have become another wolf, your sister a different sister, your battle other battles, on your return from Euphemia"

Key recommendations to the Open Schooling networks and the instruction designers

  1. Setting up a safe and emotionally positive trading zone;
  2. Designing a methodology to facilitate embracing the ambiguity of interdisciplinarity;
  3. Developing the skills needed to accept the risk and managing the equilibrium between sense making and strange making skills in a common coined language, and
  4. Relating interdisciplinary experiences with value to society.

Key recommendations to policy makers and institutions

  1. Fostering the creation of locations and institutional contexts that can act as spaces that do not belong to any disciplinary context,
  2. Promoting a cultural change in educational institutions aimed to overcome a “binary perspective” (disciplinarity vs interdisciplinarity),
  3. Merging new professional identities that are based on interdisciplinarity, and
  4. Auditing organisational processes, in particular, human resource management practices to detect the gaps that create paradoxes and discourage interdisciplinarity.
FEDORA, Future-oriented Science Education to enhance Responsibility and Engagement in the society of acceleration and uncertainty, is a 3-year EU-funded project. It started in September 2020 and will deploy its activities until August 2023. It gathers 6 partner institutions from 5 European countries.
FEDORA has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement no. 872841
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