Transdisciplinarity

The educator helps learners to act collaboratively both within and outside of their own discipline, role, perspectives and values.

Learning Outcomes

The educator helps learners to:

Underpinning Components

In order to achieve the above Learning Objectives the educator should be able to:

Example activities for teaching Transdisciplinarity

1 Governors’ debate
  • Suggested duration: 25 mins
  • Technique used: Role play
  • Materials required: Instructions to group
  • Aim of activity: To encourage students to consdier things from different perspectives
  • Underpinning components: UC 3.1, UC 3.2
  • Connection with other competences: Decisiveness

Short description

In your assessment groups, please allocate as many of these roles as possible, (starting from the top):

  • Facilitator
  • Sociologist
  • Environmental scientist
  • Economist
  • Local religious leader
  • Computer scientist
  • Scientist/mathematician

You make up the governing body of a local educational institution.

Government policy is to take the institution out of local authority control and make it a ‘free’ school, meaning you are able to decide for yourselves its future direction.

Task A

  • Group: Discuss what should be the focus/vision from your perspective. Try to win the others around to your idea
  • Facilitator: Listen and take notes. Decide who makes the most compelling argument/who ‘wins’

Task B

  • Facilitator: stage another discussion.
  • This time try to find a focus/vision that can satisfy all members of the group. 
  • A win-win?

Plenary reflect on the different experiences

2 Choose a charity
  • Suggested duration: 25 mins
  • Technique used: Simulation
  • Materials required: Handout (see below)
  • Aim of activity: To encourage students to think about their values
  • Underpinning components: UC 3.3
  • Connection with other competences: Engagement; Decisiveness

Short description

Individuals read the handout and decide on a charity. They are paired with someone who chose a different charity and have to agree on ONE charity between them. They then join another pair who chose a different charity to them and try to agree on ONE charity to support. 

In plenary discuss whether this was easy or not. What made it difficult? 

We are driven by our values – sometimes even positive values conflict with each other. 

Handout used in UK setting: Considering Your Values

Your school has a reputation for making small donations to a variety of good causes so when an elderly neighbour of the school passed away, she left a donation of £4,000 to the school with the condition that half should go to the school and half should go to a charity in order to make an impact. 

The headteacher is aware that to make an impact, this sum should be paid to one charity.

All staff and pupils were invited to suggest their favourite ‘good cause’ and a number of suggestions were made. 

The Head finds it impossible to choose from the top four preferred charities so you have been asked to make a decision because you have no personal connection with any of the listed charities. 

The Head’s only guidance is that the school should be “seen in a good light among parents and the public” for making this donation.

Your task is to choose one charity from the list below and then rank the others in order of priority. Explain why the other charities were not selected.

  1. The local animal rescue centre – their urgent need for more animal housing has been highlighted in the paper recently.
  2. Oxfam – towards their recent, high profile appeal following a massive earthquake in Malawi.
  3. The local hospice – caring for terminally ill patients with a reputation for its special care of cancer patients.
  4. The NSPCC – for a specific campaign to help with the assessment, support and monitoring of children returning home from a period in care.
3 Group discussion
  • Suggested duration: 15 mins
  • Technique used: Group discussion
  • Materials required: Photographs or pictures
  • Aim of activity: To encourage students to explore their responses and different perspectives to a situation. 
  • Underpinning components: UC 3.3
  • Connection with other competences: 

Short description

In groups.
Choose a facilitator
Facilitator: guide your group to

  • Consider the picture you are about to see
  • Develop a set of enquiring questions that it might evoke
  • Discuss responses to the questions
4 Town demographics
  • Suggested duration: 15-20 mins
  • Technique used: Group research 
  • Materials required: Internet access or reference material
  • Aim of activity: To encourage students to think about things from different perspectives to do with age
  • Underpinning components: UC 3.1
  • Connection with other competences: Attentiveness

Short description

Using any devices you have with you, do a quick search to see what you can find out about the demographic of a local town – what is the size of the population and how is it broken down in terms of age?

Using this information, make some predictions about the future needs of the town. Consider aspects such as traffic/parking; health; housing; education; appropriate leisure facilities.

Example activities for teaching Transdisciplinarity Sustainable Development Goals

Transdisciplinarity SDG1 No poverty

Contribute to ending poverty by acting collaboratively both within and outside of own discipline, role, perspectives and values.

Transdisciplinarity SDG2 No poverty

Contribute to ending hunger by acting collaboratively both within and outside of own discipline, role, perspectives and values.

Transdisciplinarity SDG3 Good health and well-being

Understand how cultural, social, economic, political and environmental aspects and different interests determine people’s quality of life and wellbeing.

Transdisciplinarity SDG4 Quality education

Support the development of policies promoting free, equitable and quality education for all and collaborate with educational stakeholders.

Transdisciplinarity SDG5 Gender equality

Include an appropriate gender balance when dealing with social and environmental issues. Develop awareness and understanding of the importance of personal experience and feelings in the construction of knowledge, attitudes and values toward gender issues.

Transdisciplinarity SDG6 Clean water and sanitation

Study water issues in a transdisciplinary way to cross types of knowledge, perspectives and values.

Transdisciplinarity SDG7 Affordable and clean energy

Be aware of varying understandings of energy poverty in different disciplines.

Transdisciplinarity SDG8 Decent work and economic growth

Collaborate with stakeholders in the economy, linking them with learners in order to develop awareness and understanding of the world of work while integrating this with wider social and environmental issues.

Transdisciplinarity SDG9 Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Act collaboratively both within and outside of own discipline, role, perspectives and values to improve resilient infrastructure and inclusive and sustainable industrialization and innovation.

Transdisciplinarity SDG10 Reduced inequalities

Act collaboratively both within and outside of own discipline, role, perspectives and values to reduce inequality.

Transdisciplinarity SDG11 Sustainable cities and communities

Understand that inclusive and sustainable communities require intergenerational and intercultural collaboration. Identify and discuss how different views, opinions and skills from stakeholders and people from various fields can affect collaboration and how differences can be bridged so as to make their area, community or city more sustainable.

Transdisciplinarity SDG12 Responsible consumption and production

Collaborate with different stakeholders of the production cycle in order to create new forms of sustainable lifestyles.

Transdisciplinarity SDG13 Climate action

Be aware that dealing with climate change requires transdisciplinary approaches, not only because it involves all disciplines, from social to scientific, from legal to technological, but also because it affects people personally and involves values, cultures and life styles, as well as the perception of how these contribute to global change.

Transdisciplinarity SDG14 Life below water

Be aware that dealing with the sustainability of marine life requires transdisciplinary approaches, not only because it involves several disciplines, from social to scientific, from legal to technological ones, but also because it affects people personally, and involves values, cultures and lifestyles.

Transdisciplinarity SDG15 Life on land

Understand that the problems that wildlife habitats face; go beyond consumption patterns and affected people and wildlife and work with people both within and beyond the learners’ own context to explore issues to find ways of protecting them.

Transdisciplinarity SDG16 Peace, justice and strong institutions

Work with people both within and beyond our own context to explore issues of disadvantage (e.g. a local refugee centre).

Useful reading for Transdisciplinarity

  • Bronfenbrenner, U (1999) ‘Environments in developmental perspective: theoretical and operational models’ in, Friedman & Wachs (eds) Measuring the environment across the lifespan: emerging methods and concepts, Washington DC: American Psychological Association pp3-28
  • Byram, M., Gribkova, B and Starkey, H. 2002. Developing the intercultural dimension in language teaching: a practical introduction for teachers. Strasburg: Council of Europe
  • Crompton T (2010) The Common Cause Handbook, Machynlleth: PIRC – A short book on the values that underpin our actions – free download available
  • UNESCO 2013 Intercultural Competences (pdf)