Interdisciplinarity at the London Business School – conference preview

Ed Jones is a PhD Student at the Bartlett School of Planning.

Later this month research students from all over London will come together for an interdisciplinary conference at London Business School. The conference will bring together ESRC-funded PhD students from a wide range of disciplines for two days of presentations, lectures and discussion. The conference will prompt reflection on our own research and disciplinary boundaries, and the issues raised by cross disciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches to a range of topics.

The ESRC stresses the importance of interdisciplinary research, supporting ‘new and exciting research which combines approaches from more than one discipline’ and recognising that ‘many of the most pressing challenges are interdisciplinary in nature.’ Interdisciplinarity is a hot topic in academia, and funding bodies are increasingly keen to ensure that research activities adopt interdisciplinary perspectives. There is a fertile debate around the issues raised by interdisciplinary research; some stressing the benefits of seeing problems using perspectives from outside your field, while others see interdisciplinary encounters as reinforcing disciplinary boundaries if substantial engagement between different disciplines can’t be reached.

The conference has been organised by students from across London’s DTCs, who faced tough choices in deciding which of the excellent abstracts to choose for the talks and poster sessions. The sessions have been organised around the ESRC’s key themes of environment and energy, health and wellbeing, social diversity, technology and innovation, global economy, security and conflict, and understanding behaviour. There will also be a special session addressing recent events in Egypt. The sessions will cover a diverse range of topics, including why developing countries sign tax treaties, the ethics of Israeli militarism and Georgian hospitality. The second day includes an interdisciplinary exercise which promises to be an interesting and imaginative way of seeing real world issues from the standpoint of other disciplines.

With keynote talks from the University of Oxford’s pioneering childhood studies researcher Prof Jo Boyden and Prof Roger Burrows, the pro-warden for interdisciplinary development at Goldsmiths, the conference will be a great opportunity to meet with students from other social science disciplines, share knowledge and develop understandings.

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