22 SES 13 D, Meta-Narratives, Trajectories and Practices in the Academic Field: Tracing “Interdisciplinarity”
The two session symposium “Meta-Narratives, Trajectories and Practices in the Academic Field” analyzes programmatics and semantics (Weber et al. 2014) of global academic, political and economical discourses which enter policies as well as institutional strategies, academic cooperation and the trajectories of academic career paths in Europe and beyond. By focusing on the two Meta-Narratives “Internationalization” and “Interdisciplinarity”, the symposium looks into the nexus between power, knowledge and the transformation of academia by social practices in academic settings analyzed as academic field (Bourdieu 2004, 2008). Whereas the first session of the symposium focuses on the Meta-Narrative of ‘Internationalization’, the second session analyzes the Meta-Narrative of “Interdisciplinarity”. Both closely connected sessions refer to policies and social practices in academic institutions as basis of empirical analysis. The session with focus on “Internationalization” comprises three thematically closely connected contributions from Finland, Sweden and Germany, the session on “Interdisciplinarity” includes thematically closely connected papers from Turkey, Sweden and Germany.
Internationality and interdisciplinarity have become crucial ideas in academia. The European Bologna Process explicitly aims at the increase of international cooperation and exchange in higher education. At the same time interdisciplinarity gains more importance both in education and research (e.g. interdisciplinary PhD programs etc.). Furthermore, different trends in research and scientific work show the relevance of internationality and interdisciplinarity: In the academic field public funding explicitly focuses on international cooperation as well as interdisciplinary fields of research; research groups stress their interdisciplinary composition and in many areas of the academic field the hegemonic way of measuring reputation is the international Science Citation Index. This list could easily be continued.
Against this background, the proposed symposium focuses on interdisciplinarity. In doing so, interdisciplinarityon the one hand will be addressed as a “meta-narrative” and thereby as part of the symbolic order of the academic field. On the other hand interdisciplinarity will be looked at as social practice. This is based on the assumption that interdisciplinarity has to be created in everyday practice. This practice of “doing interdisciplinarity” depends both on institutional structures and on the (habitual) dispositions of agents. Thus interdisciplinarity gets actualized in specific social practices - and although these practices refer to common discourses and meta-narratives, they at the same time (re)produce them.
Accordingly, the three contributions of the proposed symposium examine interdisciplinarity beyond academic policies, focusing on its relevance in social practice on different levels: How is the meta-narrative of interdisciplinarity translated to institutional practices of single universities? How is everyday practice among scientists from different disciplinary backgrounds produced? What is the role of interdisciplinarity in young academic’s careers? How do they deal with the challenge of positioning themselves in interdisciplinary fields of research and, at the same time, in predominantly discipline-structured universities? And what are the relations between the practice of interdisciplinarity and the meta-narratives of interdisciplinarity?
The symposium will address these questions from different theoretical backgrounds ranging from discourse analysis (Kurtoglu, Turkey), actor-network-theory (Rimpiläinen, Sweden) and practice theory (Burger/Elven, Germany).
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