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The charachter of interdisciplinary research

There are considerable benefits in encouraging interdisciplinary research, particularly where the objective of the research is to achieve useful economic, social, environmental or cultural outcomes. The real world does not always present its problems and opportunities conveniently aligned with traditional academic disciplines so mechanisms are needed to facilitate interactions and collaborations between researchers working in widely different fields.

Supported by the ARC Linkage Learned Academies Special Projects Funding this project addresses two outstanding problems: the application of interdisciplinary research to the broad, problem-based research and how to use this understanding to find effective ways of approaching the array of challenges confronting Australia. 

The project comprises four components over three years:

  1. Critical Examination of Interdisciplinary Research in Australia and abroad, was completed in February 2013 resulting in Strengthening Interdisciplinary Research – what it is, what it does, how it does it and how it is supported. The report made a series of recommendations, which formed the basis for the next phase of the project.
  2. Interdisciplinary Research Applications for Sustainable Resource Utilisation
  3. Sustainable Growth – Interdisciplinary Research Applications for Economic, Social and Cultural Prosperity were merged to deliver The character of interdisciplinary research (this report)
  4. Lessons Learned for Interdisciplinary Research: Good Practice

A complex array of disparate but interlinked phenomena such as: population growth, the security of water and food supplies, energy use, urban infrastructure development, social harmony, and even refugee policy (with further complexity arising from the variability that may be induced by climate change) requires the integrated application of knowledge and understanding from all branches of academe (the natural sciences and technology, engineering, humanities, social sciences and the arts) to achieve workable solutions that will contribute to a sustainable future for Australia.

Read the full report here >>