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Conference addresses interdisciplinary organizational structure in universities

by Flávia Dourado - published Jul 22, 2015 11:25 AM - - last modified Aug 03, 2015 04:39 PM
Contributors: Translation by Carlos Malferrari

Peter Weingart - Perfil
Sociologist Peter Weingart

Interdisciplinarity and the New Governance of Universities is the subject of the conference that sociologist Peter Weingart, professor at Bielefeld University (Germany) will give on July 28, at 3:30 pm, at the IEA’s Events Room. The exposition will be in English, with simultaneous translation. The event will be broadcast live on the web.

Weingart will discuss the challenges to developing interdisciplinary courses at universities. It will focus on two major epistemological obstacles related to the nature of disciplines: deeply institutionalized forms of producing knowledge; and rigid organizational structures, enclosed in departments and faculties.

According to Weingart, interdisciplinarity is seen by academics and public policy makers as a response to super-specialization of science. However, very little has been done in terms of changes in the organization of universities or in the actual behavior of professors and researchers.

“But now there are signs that this may change,” he says, noting that universities have launched pioneering initiatives to transform their organizational structure to “facilitate and encourage intellectual exchange and cooperation across disciplinary boundaries.”

In his lecture, Weingart will discuss the scope and limits of these initiatives. Toward this end, he’ll present cases of universities committed to modifying their organizational structures as a way to optimize responses to new problems facing science and society.

Among the topics that will be discussed are: Will the efforts to establish new interdisciplinary fields outside departments and disciplines be successful? Will the movement toward interdisciplinary organizational structures in universities lead to the replacement of disciplines as the dominant form of producing knowledge?

The lecturer

Peter Weingart is professor emeritus of Sociology, Sociology of Science and Politics of Science at Bielefeld University, where he was also director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research and of the Institute for Research in Science and Technology. He conducts studies on the public perception of science and technology; the relationship between science, media and politics; bibliometrics, research evaluation and development of indicators; the dynamics of knowledge production; political, scientific and media discourse on global warming; and the knowledge society.

Photo: Personal archive

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