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Interdisciplinary leadership Paul Blackmore Camille B. Kandiko Kings Learning Institute, Kings College London.

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Presentation on theme: "Interdisciplinary leadership Paul Blackmore Camille B. Kandiko Kings Learning Institute, Kings College London."— Presentation transcript:

1 Interdisciplinary leadership Paul Blackmore Camille B. Kandiko Kings Learning Institute, Kings College London

2 2 Outline of workshop Project and methodology Defining disciplines and leadership Problems An exercise with data Solutions? Conclusions

3 3 The project Increasing calls for interdisciplinarity But Structural Socio-cultural Epistemological differences Some leaders engage - why and how?

4 4 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

5 5 A discipline any comparatively self-contained and isolated domain of human experience which possesses its own community of experts (Nissani, 1997) Knowledge, methodology, community

6 6 Interdisciplinarity a means of solving problems and answering questions that cannot be satisfactorily addressed using single methods or approaches (Klein, 1990) Requires integration

7 7 Framework Jarzabkowskis (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

8 8 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 and Trowler, 2001)

9 9 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

10 10 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?

11 11 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.

12 12 An exercise with data! What structures and processes would assist: Leading Managing Career issues

13 13 Exercise Divide into three groups Read the quote sheets provided Discuss the questions in relation to the interview quotes and your own experience Report back to the full group in 20 minutes

14 14 Conclusions: Challenges Interdisciplinary work challenged by practices lack of culture of going outside ones own department current academic fads and trends budget crunches Administration often organised on disciplinary and departmental lines financial and prestige awards course scheduling computer systems

15 15 Conclusions: Challenges Interdisciplinary work usually requires extra administrative support Computer systems often lock staff into one school or department These issues pervade the university at all levels

16 16 Conclusions: Promoting interdisciplinary work Incentive structure (promotion and tenure) criteria important for early career academics Flexible study leaves can be a springboard for innovative research for mid-career academics Ability to go sideways in the university and maintain status is crucial for all academics

17 17 Future directions Questions for university staff, including administrators, academics and those in leadership positions include: How can researchers recode, reclassify and reorganise departments, divisions and centres to promote interdisciplinary working within existing university structures? Are there new methods of accounting for and allocating faculty time, including research points, teaching loads, and university service commitments? What can be done on campus and electronically to connect researchers across the university? How can faculty members be keyed into databases to reflect their positions, including multiple appointments in departments, research centres, schools and faculties? How can interdisciplinary teaching be promoted throughout the university, including faculty reimbursement, time-tabling, cross-listing courses, and requirements from students?

18 18 Acknowledgement This study was funded in part through a grant from the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education.

19 19 References Jarzabkowski, P. (2005) Strategy as Practice. London: Sage. Klein, J. T. (1990). Interdisciplinarity: History, theory, and practice. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. Knight, P. and Trowler, P. (2001) Departmental Leadership in Higher Education. Buckingham: Society for Research into Higher Education/Open University Press. Nissani, M. (1997). Ten cheers for interdisciplinarity: The case for interdisciplinary knowledge and research. The Social Science Journal, 34(2),

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