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Transdisciplinarity. Said Al- Abadi Sultan Qaboos University. Table of Contents. What’s New? Role of technology Example References. What’s New . relatively young approach emerged seven centuries later than disciplinarity Jean Piaget coined "transdisciplinarity"

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Said Al-Abadi

Sultan Qaboos University

Table of contents

Table of Contents

  • What’s New?

  • Role of technology

  • Example

  • References

What s new

What’s New

  • relatively young approach

  • emerged seven centuries later than disciplinarity

  • Jean Piaget coined "transdisciplinarity"

  • deals with relevant, complex societal problems and organizes processes of mutual learning between agents from the scientific and the non-scientific world

  • concerns between the disciplines, across the different disciplines, and beyond all discipline(eg research on effective information systems for biomedical research

  • goal ► holistic understanding/unity of knowledge


  • provides tools to understand reality & to confront changes

  • develops a new vision and a new experience of learning . 

  • yield a deeper understanding of the problem being studied “as a complex dynamic system”

  • - disciplinary and transdisciplinary research are complementary.


  • tackles complexity in science and it challenges knowledge disintegration

  • knowledge production is characterized by its hybrid nature, non-linearity and reflexivity, transcending any academic disciplinary structure

  • accepts local contexts and uncertainty ► context-specific negotiation of knowledge

  • implies intercommunicative action.

Role of technology

Role of Technology

  • Accelerates race of innovation (joint problem-solving)

  • Needed in fields of major technical development ( nuclear/bio-technology/genetics)

  • Enhances tools of information technology and nanotechnology

  • Role of technology ?

Example a case study of teaching and learning transdisciplinarity

Example (A case study of teaching and learning transdisciplinarity)

  • The Institute for Sustainability and Technology Policy (ISTP)/founded 1988 / Western Australian Government

  • funding ceased 1992 ►Institute is now an independent School within Murdoch University's Division of Arts

  • has experienced continued growth over this period and is now an active research, learning and teaching centre


  • teaching staff and the students have been drawn from a range of disciplines, practical backgrounds and cultures and themselves possess diverse interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary skills

  • The Institute's learning, teaching and research cover 6 key areas:

  • Sustainable Cities: eg city policy, urban planning, transport, water and waste.

  • Sustainable Regions: eg natural resource management, regional Western Australia.

  • Sustainable Futures: eg advancement and critique of innovation and technology.


  • Sustainable Energy and Third World Development: eg renewable energy, population policy, grassroots development, women and development.

  • Sustainable Politics: eg social justice, environmental justice, globalisation, policy development, participatory democracy, social movements.

  • Sustainable Selves: eg personal identity, education, spirituality, environmental and social ethics, eco-philosophy, ethical dimensions of technology and sustainable development.


  • These key areas are between the disciplines, across the disciplines and beyond the disciplines

  • Most of the postgraduate degrees and research topics cross over two or more of these key areas

  • main aim► to enable teaching and learning within the four pillars of education in the context of transdisciplinarity for sustainability.

  • The quality of learning is inseparable from the quality of teaching within a higher education system



Kessel, F. & Rosenfield, P. (2008). Toward transdis­ciplinary research: Historical and contempo­rary perspectives. American Journal of Preven­tive Medicine, 35(2S), S225-S234.

Mitrany, M. & Stokols, D. (2005). Gauging the transdisciplinary qualities and outcomes of doctoral training programs. Journal of Plan­ning and Education Research, 24, 437-449.

Lawrence, R.&Despres, C.(2004). Futures of Transdisciplinarity. Futures. 36(4). 397-405.

Nicolescu, B. (1997). The transdisciplinary evolution of the university condition for sustainable development. Presented at the 'Universities' Responsibilities to Society', Bangkok: Chulalongkorn University.

Morin, E. (1999). Seven complex lessons in education for the future. Paris: UNESCO Publishing.

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