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Why do we need interdisciplinarity?

Interdisciplinary problem statements are one of the areas which the graduate school at Health is prioritising when assessing applications for full, strategic PhD scholarships and grants in 2017. A new leaflet sheds light on a recurring question: What is interdisciplinarity, and why is Health focusing on it?

The graduate school at Health wants to encourage junior researchers to think outside the box and utilise technologies and academic insights that lie outside of their own narrow academic identities. In continuation of this, the graduate school is prioritising problem statements which are clearly interdisciplinary when assessing applications for full, strategic PhD scholarships and grants in 2017. 

"Until now, this prioritisation has faced the challenge of only having a few applications that sufficiently complied with the interdisciplinary aspect, and we have received a lot of questions about what the concept of interdisciplinary research actually covers," says Vice-dean for Talent Development at Health, Lise Wogensen Bach.

Five experiences of interdisciplinarity

This is one of the factors that has led to Lise Wogensen Bach taking the initiative to get five researchers with interdisciplinary experience from the health sciences to share their knowledge about what interdisciplinarity can accomplish – and what it takes to do research under the umbrella of interdisciplinarity. The result of this can be seen in the "2 + 2 = 5" brochure, which can be downloaded from the graduate school's website.

The five researchers are: Professor Kim Overvad from The Department of Public Health; Professor Elvira Brattico from The Centre for Music in the Brain; Professor with special responsibilities (MSO) Thomas Vorup-Jensen from The Department of Biomedicine; Professor Eva Cecilie Bonefeld-Jørgensen from The Department of Public Health; and Associate Professor Finn Olesen from The Centre for Science, Technology and Society Studies.

Foundations and the EU wish to see interdisciplinarity

In addition, Acting Dean Ole Steen Nielsen, Health, has contributed to the folder, in which he points out that many major foundations and the EU wish to see focus on interdisciplinarity in the applications they receive.

"This wish has not come out of the blue. One of the reasons for it is that interdisciplinarity is necessary for us to be able to solve the major challenges that society is facing today," he says, and adds that interdisciplinarity of course brings its own challenges, among other things because researchers from different disciplines do not necessarily speak the same language.

Vice-dean Lise Wogensen
Aarhus University, Health
Tel.: (+45) 8715 2012