Improving pathways between Interdisciplinary Research and the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Activity: Academic talk or presentation typesOral presentation


In Europe, and more widely, interdisciplinary research (IDR) has been iden1fied as an important contribu1on made by researchers to tackling complex issues such as climate change, an1-microbial resistance and health inequalities. Explicitly modelled on the successful American mobilisa1on of science and technology to land on the moon (OECD, 1972), such understandings of interdisciplinarity see collabora1ve research between different disciplines as a means of producing the technoscientific knowledge required for successful policy interven1ons in these key areas. Using our analysis of recent policy literature on IDR for the Horizon 2020-funded SHAPE-ID project (“Shaping interdisciplinary prac1ces in Europe”), we discuss the different narratives of IDR and its implica1ons contained in publica1ons produced by funding agencies, learned and professional socie1es, and research organisa1ons. We argue that ideas of ”mission-oriented” research have become deeply embedded in the routine activities of these organisations. They are related to a “problem-solving” discourse as opposed to critical or philosophical ones (Klein, forthcoming), more in tune with Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences perspectives. We will demonstrate how, despite their focus on collabora1on, mission-oriented instrumental approaches to research prioritise particular kinds of technoscientific expertise at the expense of other kinds of expertise. This privileging occurs in the ways in which funding calls are designed, research questions are framed, evidence is evaluated and research impact is assessed. Finally, we will argue that less hierarchical and more flexible understandings of research and research collaboration are required in order to successfully undertake IDR, and in the process, perhaps, create useful new knowledge.
Period16 Feb 2021
Event titleMultiple Matters: From Neglected Things to Arts of Noticing Fragility: Swiss Association for the Studies of Science Technology and Society 5th Annual Meeting
Event typeConference
LocationZurich, SwitzerlandShow on map


  • interdisciplinary research
  • collaboration
  • research funding
  • research evaluation
  • arts, humanities and social sciences