Interdisciplinarity

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

We are living into “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 communication

    Multi-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 from what the traditional educational organizations are producing and what the society requires. In order to equips 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 organization. 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 gathers 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 arised three “shared narratives”

A narrative of the barriers

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A narrative of conditions that facilitate interdisciplinarity

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A narrative of interdisciplinary attitudes and skills

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A great resonance in the study  group emerged around the idea that interdisciplinarity in STEM education implies not only managing tensions between belonging-nonbelonging, defining-negotiating meaning, going in-out a comfort zone, zooming in-zooming out (from details to big pictures and vice versa). It also entails managing a particular kind of equilibrium that we called "between sense-making skills (systems, critical, analytical thinking) and strange-making skills (creative, imaginative, anticipative thinking)."

Despite the insufficient logistic context, an incredibly rich bunch of ideas emerged. Framed 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 have been inspired by the Gaelic word "meitheal", the performances of Gandini Juggling, and by The city of Euphemia by Calvino (The invisible cities).

In this virtual context, we explored the multi-dimensional roles of disciplines, the barriers they create, and their pros in structuring reasoning and mediating the interaction. 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, let’s meet at city of Euphemia (Italo Calvino - The invisible cities), 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

setting up a safe and emotionally positive trading zone and designing a methodology to facilitate embracing the ambiguity of interdisciplinarity, 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 relating interdisciplinary experiences with value to society.

Key recommendations to policy makers and institutions

fostering the creation of locations and institutional contexts that can act as spaces that do not belong to any disciplinary context, promoting a cultural change in educational institutions aimed to overcome a “binary perspective” (disciplinarity vs interdisciplinarity), merging new professional identities that are based on interdisciplinarity and auditing organisational processes, in particular, human resource management practices to detect gaps creating paradoxes and discouraging 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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