What is transdisciplinary education?

The Mixed Classroom. Photo: Hilde Segond von Banchet

Transdisciplinary education or learning takes place through collective and collaborative interactions across disciplines (e.g., arts, natural sciences, and social sciences) and with actors external to the higher education institution (Fam et al., 2018). The transdisciplinary approach aims at identifying, structuring, analysing and handling issues in complex, societal problem fields with the aspiration (Pohl & Hirsch Hadorn, 2007)

(a) to grasp the relevant complexity of a problem, (b) to take into account the diversity of real world and scientific perceptions of problems, (c) to link abstract and case-specific knowledge, and (d) develop knowledge and practices that promote what is perceived to be the common good. (p. 20).

In this approach, knowledge from academic and extra-academic sources is integrated creatively to enable learning through a process of problem solving (Fam et al. 2018). It pushes boundaries to link institutions of higher education with larger society, drawing together disciplinary and extra-academic knowledge and reconstructing it as co-created transdisciplinary knowledge. With the erosion of traditional boundaries between disciplines and sectors, learners aspire to create new, integrated intellectual frameworks, rather than merely viewing disciplinary concepts side-by-side (McGregor, 2017).