British Academy calls for evidence for new interdisciplinarity project

19 May 2015

The British Academy has today, Tuesday 12 May 2015, launched its call for evidence for a new project on interdisciplinarity in research and higher education.
The call for evidence will ask individual academics, university management, funders and publishers about their experiences of engaging with interdisciplinarity, the success stories and the challenges.  The project will investigate:
• how interdisciplinary research is carried out
• the demand for interdisciplinary research and research skills
• how academics can forge interdisciplinary careers 
• whether the right structures are in place to support interdisciplinarity across the research and higher education system. 
While the focus is on research, it will also investigate the relation between interdisciplinarity in teaching and research, from the undergraduate level up. And while the focus is on universities, the project will be concerned with the relation between interdisciplinarity in universities and in the wider economy. 
This project is guided by a Working Group, chaired by Professor David Soskice FBA, who said:
“Understanding interdisciplinary research is crucial, as is interdisciplinarity more generally in higher education. The way in which disciplines interact and evolve over time in response to changing questions needs to be better understood, as does the impact this process will have on individuals’ careers and the structure of the academy. There is also increasing awareness of the relevance of interdisciplinarity to innovation in the wider economy, and there is a real need to understand the contribution of the interdisciplinary university to this. I hope this project can shed light on appropriate ways to support interdisciplinarity for everyone’s benefit.”
Interdisciplinary research is of increasing prominence in UK universities and internationally. A greater interest in creating impact from research, not least driven by the recent inclusion of impact in the REF2014; a sense that research should contribute to practical challenges in society; and a need to get value from public money, all contribute to the emergence of research work that crosses disciplines or draws on the work of a multidisciplinary group of research teams. The issue of interdisciplinarity is timely for the major funders, for universities, for academics, and more generally for relations between universities and the high value-added innovative sectors of the wider economy. 
The Working Group membership for this project is:
• Professor Graeme Reid, Chair of Science and Research Policy, UCL 
• Professor Colette Fagan, Deputy Dean (& Associate Dean - Research), University of Manchester 
• Professor Barry Smith, Director of the Institute for Philosophy, School of Advanced Study  
• Professor Julia Black, Pro Director for Research, LSE 
• Professor Tom McLeish FRS, University of Durham
• Mr Carl Gombrich, Programme Director Arts and Sciences, UCL 

The deadline for submitting evidence is 26 June 2015, and the final report will be published in early 2016. 

The questions for the call for evidence and the terms of reference for this project can be accessed on the British Academy website

Notes to editors

1. For more information please contact the British Academy press office: [email protected] / 02079695227

2. The British Academy for the humanities and social sciences. Established by Royal Charter in 1902. Its purpose is to inspire, recognise and support excellence and high achievement in the humanities and social sciences, throughout the UK and internationally, and to champion their role and value. For more information, please visit Follow the British Academy on Twitter @britac_news

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