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Interdisciplinary leadership as leading learning

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Presentation on theme: "Interdisciplinary leadership as leading learning"— Presentation transcript:

1 Interdisciplinary leadership as leading learning
Paul Blackmore Camille B. Kandiko King’s Learning Institute, King’s College London

2 Outline of presentation
Project and methodology Defining disciplines and leadership Leadership as leading learning Findings Conclusions






8 The project Increasing calls for interdisciplinarity But Structural
Socio-cultural Epistemological differences Some leaders engage - why and how?

9 Methodology Literature review
Ten in-depth semi-structured interviews of interdisciplinary leaders at KCL and Melbourne Appreciative inquiry why engage? what works? principles for effective practice

10 Practices: Administrative, discursive, episodic
Framework Jarzabkowski’s (2005) activity-based strategy as practice method Practice: Interdisciplinarity as a situated, socially accomplished flow of organizational activity Practices: Administrative, discursive, episodic Practitioners: Skilled, knowledgeable actors inside and outside the university

11 A discipline “ any comparatively self-contained and isolated domain of human experience which possesses its own community of experts” (Nissani, 1997) Knowledge, methodology, community

12 Interdisciplinarity “a means of solving problems and answering questions that cannot be satisfactorily addressed using single methods or approaches” (Klein, 1990) Requires integration As distinct from multdsciplinarity

13 Leadership Distributed and embedded in context
“much of the work of leading is contingent … it involves dealing with the specifics of a time, a place and a set of people” (Knight & Trowler, 2001)

14 System level - funding Difficulties writing interdisciplinary grants
Fitting interdisciplinary work into national assessment schemes (RAE in UK) Challenges of aligning interdisciplinary work with national funding councils

15 Institution level - recognition
Issues with traditional discipline-based reward systems: mode of publication: e.g. government report rather than journal article or book location of publication: generalist rather than specialist journal time frame: interdisciplinary work takes time to develop publication in peer-reviewed journals using unfamiliar literatures A risky business best left till later?

16 Faculty, school, department level
Tribal academic disciplines Administrative issues: finance course registration time-tabling computer systems “It is quite difficult to teach interdisciplinary courses … with different timetables, for instance, or different habits, different expectations, different cultures, perhaps of contact, or different entry level requirements.”

17 Leadership as leading learning
“Learning takes place within communities of practice and activity systems that have their own sub-cultures and discursive repertoires” Knight and Trowler (2001) on leadership at departmental level

18 Learning Tacit (Polanyi, 1966) Social (Bandura, 1977)
Situated (Lave & Wenger, 1991) a “dialectical model of learning in which individual and context interact in critical ways…and…are mutually constitutive” (Lattuca, 2002)

19 Identity and power The community “provides the language in which individuals understand themselves and interpret their world” (Henkel, 2000) Self identity “a reflexively organised endeavour … which consists in the sustaining of coherent, yet continuously revised, biographical narratives” (Giddens, 1991)

20 Habitus “a system of shared dispositions and cognitive structures which generates perceptions, appreciations and actions” (Bourdieu, 1988)

21 Foucault and power (Foucault, 1977) (Foucault, 1982)
Discipline is “a type of power, a modality for its exercise, comprising a whole set of instruments, techniques, procedures, levels of application, targets; it is a physics' or an 'anatomy' of power, a technology" (Foucault, 1977) "Power is exercised only over free subjects, and only insofar as they are free" (Foucault, 1982)

22 Adair (1984) on leadership Individual Team Task

23 Leading interdisciplinary learning
Identity Disciplines Learning

24 Broader purposes “How do you make democracy work in an age of science-mediated risk … it’s actually sitting at the biggest questions we face … how we manage expert knowledge in a democracy” “the practical application and the notion that my ideas are likely to be taken up quickly … is one of the things that appeals to me”

25 Intellectual possibilities
“other ways of understanding the world, which are powerful and which can help” “demanding and more ambitious … – it’s a leadership challenge – a way of bringing a variety of perspectives together in a coherent organised fashion” a “mental framework on which you can hang things … more things in far fewer tasks, with a simpler context” “tremendously stimulating for yourself as a teacher or a writer, to be writing for a discipline other than your own”

26 Establishing relationships
“you talk to people and you engage with their arguments” “respect other people who also bother to go into primary resources, primary materials, who can argue with contrary points of view without being immediately judgemental. … play the argument; don’t play the person” “unconditional respect for the disciplines that the person represents … a real interest in their work, their proposal, what motivates them and the kinds of concerns that they express in regard to a collaboration”

27 Building a team Collegial - crossing functional boundaries
“it’s about empowering them, to get those things running, and then … knitting those back together again” they “worked in that area for intellectual rewards, academic rewards, so it needs a more democratic approach” “I don’t necessarily lead them. I see myself as support staff. … I try to be as interactive as I can. I comment on the drafts. I go to meetings. I talk about issues” You can all bring your expertise in, but at least you need to be running in the same direction … a matter of the co-ordination of people’s understandings”

28 Motivating others Issues to deal with:
Individual researchers absorbed by their own individual projects. Career preparation of faculty within a discipline Research and professional bodies with their embedded interests Interdisciplinarity not itself a driving force. Is there a career interdisciplinarian? Interest in the subject should be the driver

29 Techniques for interaction
“listen to different points of view, suggest syntheses and compromises, crisscross contributions and gain help from participants … to interact in ways that are not dysfunctional and disruptive…” “…intellectual agility … commitment to the problem … a willingness to build flexibility into the process .. and to respect that people come to the interdisciplinary table because they are experts in a field” “the willingness to compromise with other people … to accept uncertainty … to accept that you’re not going to be able to see the world in the same way”

30 Disciplinary differences?
“People from science will want to move towards the output thing, let’s get on with it, humanities people be willing more to engage in those conversations… and I see some impatience sometimes with the scientists”

31 Intellectual environment
Ensuring that each participating department has a representative Balancing the views of small and large groups Making space to review terminology - “precise language” not “jargon Using a vocabulary that embraces a wide audience Valuing alternative disciplinary views in articles

32 Physical environment “… if you want research, the structure has to be flexible and informal … if we can sort out where to put the coffee rooms and the toilets, the rest will follow” “a very impressive group … but we all disappear again, and nobody talks to one another … we’ve got so much knowledge here, but the co-ordination and managing of it, never mind the social or personal side, is quite dispersed”

33 Organisational environment
Importance of early training in enabling transfer potential How safe to take a risk? Research assessment disincentive Institutional recognition

34 Leading interdisciplinary learning
Purposes Possibilities Motivation Environment Engagement Identity Individual Learning Identity – Influenced by discipline Career stage Recognition and reward Disciplines Epistemological Cultural Linguistic Political aspects

35 Acknowledgement This study was funded in part through a grant from the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education.

36 References Adair, J. (1984). The skills of leadership. Aldershot: Gower. Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Bourdieu, P. (1988). Homo academicus. Cambridge: Polity Press. Foucault, M. (1982). Afterword: The subject and power.  In H. L. Dreyfus & P. Rabinow, Michel Foucault: Beyond structuralism and hermeneutics (pp ). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Foucault, M. (1977). Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison. Trans. Alan Sheridan. New York: Pantheon. Giddens, A. (1991). Modernity and self-identity: Self and society in the late modern age. Cambridge: Polity. Henkel, M. (2000). Academic identities and policy change in higher education. London: Jessica Kingsley. Jarzabkowski, P. (2005). Strategy as practice. London: Sage. Klein, J. T. (1990). Interdisciplinarity: History, theory, and practice. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.

37 References Lattuca, L. (2002). Learning interdisciplinarity: Socio-cultural perspectives on academic work. Journal of Higher Education, 73(6), 711–739. Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press. Nissani, M. (1997). Ten cheers for interdisciplinarity: The case for interdisciplinary knowledge and research. The Social Science Journal, 34(2), Knight, P. & Trowler, P. (2001). Departmental leadership in higher education: New directions for communities of practice. Buckingham: Open University Press. Polanyi, M. (1966). The tacit dimension. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Ramsden, P. (1998). Learning to lead in higher education. London: Routledge Falmer.

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