Opening Remarks – ‘Why Interdisciplinarity?’ By Regenia Gagnier

19 10 2009

Gagnier PolaroidSpeaker: Professor Regenia Gagnier (University of Exeter)

Full title: Why Interdisciplinarity?

Discipline: Literature / Interdisciplinary Studies




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5 responses

19 10 2009
Glenn W. Muschert

Dear Regenia,

Thank you very much for your presentation, which serves as a wonderful reminder to us at this conference. Following your talk, I think we all have a respect for one anothers’ differing ways of thinking, modes of argumentation, and usage of evidence. However, on an interpersonal level, we have very little discourse across disciplines outside our own home institutions. Your talk was a good follow-up to Roger’s talk, as you offered us some concrete ways to understand, and to appreciate (I hope), how colleagues from other disciplines see the world and interact. I am optimistic that via our conference here, that we can perhaps find areas where we should “lump” together.


23 10 2009
regenia gagnier

Dear Glenn, Thanks very much for that. I see that your specialism is crime and society, and I’m glad to identify you. As I mentioned in my Introduction, my institute (EII) is working with the ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society and the National Policing Improvement Agency to reconcile security and privacy under modern techniques like DNA data bases. We recently had Troy Duster and Kimberley Tallbear here to discuss this in relation to African American and Native American communities. It was a great example of how the science and the cultures need dialogue of the kind you support. I hope that we have further contact. I also have lots of friends at Miama, especially Mary Jean Corbett, Laura Mandell, and Kerry Powell, and go there to visit sometimes.

23 10 2009
Glenn W. Muschert

Dear Regenia,
It’s nice to be in contact with you. Of course, I would be happy to start up a dialogue about shared interests. Please do be in contact when there is any way in which I can be of assistance. Also, I am glad to hear that you have friends here at Miami, and that you sometimes come to visit. Please let me know the next time you are in town, and I will be happy to meet you for a cup of coffee, or invite you to stop by my office.

24 10 2009
Scott Noegel

Dear Reginia,

After hearing your presentation, I wonder where you might place the arts in this discussion? It seems to me that what most, if not all, disciplines share in common is that they are a means of problem solving, whether economic, philosophical, linguistic, historical, or other problems. Often, non-artists understand the arts merely as a discipline that “interprets” the world, much like what you have noted about the way the humanities interpret texts and cultures. But the arts are also a means of solving problems, since one must make deliberate and critical decisions in the creation of an artistic work (visual, musical, etc.). I very much like your treatment of disciplines as cultures. Now if these very cultures could not simply communicate with each other, but realize that each can contribute to solving larger problems, I think we would all be better off in the academy, and in the world generally. Thanks again for your thought provoking address.


27 10 2009
regenia gagnier

Dear Scott, I do think that the arts also solve problems. Recently we had the artist Chris Welsby here. He uses the climate and elements to actually produce art and he is working with the Met Office, also based in Exeter, on issues around climate change. See the website above. My message about interdisciplinarity for years has been that we are not transdisciplinary, everyone cannot know everything, but we can bring each of our disciplines to the table to solve problems that cannot be solved alone. Interdisciplinarity is a collective, not an individual, activity. Thanks very much for your comment, Regenia

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