Creating interdisciplinary education within monodisciplinary structures: The art of managing interstitiality

Katrine Lindvig*, Catherine Lyall, Laura R. Meagher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The literature on interdisciplinary higher education is influenced by two overall trends: one looks at the institutional level of specially designed interdisciplinary institutions, while the other assesses individual interdisciplinary educational activities. Much less attention is given to the processes of creating interdisciplinary education initiatives within traditional monodisciplinary universities. In this study, we thus explore how interdisciplinary education and teaching emerge and develop within universities that have little or no established infrastructure to support interdisciplinarity. Using qualitative data from a multi-part case study, we examine the development of diverse interdisciplinary educational efforts within a traditional faculty-structured university in order to map the ways in which interdisciplinary educational elements have been created, supported, challenged or even strengthened by pre-existing monodisciplinary structures. Drawing on theories from economics, literature studies and sociology of education, we conclude that creating interdisciplinary education in such settings demands skills that we define as the ‘art of managing interstitiality’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-360
Number of pages14
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Issue number2
Early online date21 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


  • interdisciplinary activities
  • faculty-structured university
  • higher education
  • managing interstitiality
  • student pathways


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