Plenary 1: What is Transdisciplinarity ? Prof. Gavan J. McDonell (University of New South Wales, Australia)
started his reflection by making
a clear distinction between and “transdisciplinarity”.
On the one hand he suggested calling “multi-disciplinary
studies” a ctcollaboration
among experts, associative, i.e.
members where the
of different disciplines, work of each of them is
where the relation added to that of all
among them the others)).
On the other hand he suggested that in “interdisciplina~
studies” the ctconnection is
collaborate in such a and languages of the
way that others)).
each takes up some of
In the view of Prof. McDonell, transdisciplinarity differs from interdisciplinarity in its capability to give birth to a “meta-language”.
Specifically, in an interdisciplinary dimension, the single disciplines tend to establish
only a rudimentary level collaboration.
On the contrary, within a transdisciplinary
dimension a common transcendent language arises, allowing the level of sharing needed to generate an entirely “new intellectual space” through which fragmentation
of knowledge can be contrasted and issues properly addressed.
Transdisciplinarity therefore would exist, according to his model,
integrating relationship is taken to the extent of there being a transcendent language,
a meta-language, in which the terms of all the participant expressed)).
disciplines are, or can be,
From this point of view, he clarified that the concept of transdisciplinarity c&an& in a
long line of endeavours to produce knowledge and universal language)).
the linked accomplishments
Prof. McDonell then d’Alambert, Condorcet
recalled “L ‘Encyclop&die”,
the famous project of Diderot,
knowledge worth knowing - a perfect language”.
as well as Umberto Eco’s speculation on the “search for
He stressed hbw ((the hope that human endeavour was capable of producing forms of knowledge)) which could express ctreliable, comprehensive and universally rational accounts of the world)) lies ctin the search for comprehensive knowledge and universal Ianguage>~.
Consequently, Prof. McDonell shared his conviction on the importance of
transdisciplinary also emphasized
approach, which he sees as a “transdisciplinary
the need to be aware of the difficulties
of this intellectual
elaborating a However, he path.
In this regard, he drew a ctsuggestionJLom the claim about forms of knowledge being the production of specifr‘cforms of culture)>.