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Conference theme

In 2019, the  theme of the Association of Interdisciplinary Studies (AIS) annual conference will be Interdisciplinarity in Global Contexts. Since a defining feature of interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity is not to abstract or isolate problems but rather to approach them in their real-world contexts, this conference theme asks participants to consider the global and local contexts of interdisciplinary education and research. Obviously, contexts differ in scale and can be defined at microscopic or macroscopic levels: chemical properties are influenced by molecular configurations, for example, organic functions by bodily states, individuals by their societal environments, public health by geographical and climatic conditions, and cities by their world-wide connections. Adding to this complexity are various dynamic interactions across these dimensions, further making an interdisciplinary perspective necessary.

As addressing global contexts will require rich collaborations, the conference program committee aims to organize three days of innovative and interactive sessions. Each day will open and close with plenary talks and panels, creating a community of engaged conference participants. Sessions will consist of roundtable discussions, solution room questions, workshops, poster presentations and other formats figuring on the program – enabling not only senior scholars but also early career academics as well as students and professionals form outside the academy to contribute.


We have invited contributions from attendees in all categories – from a diversity of fields, countries, and research or educational cultures, addressing different aspects of the conference theme. The program committee has supported innovative formats that will encourage audience involvement and lively dialogue.

The conference theme Interdisciplinarity in Global Contexts has been broken down into four subthemes elaborated below.

  • Theme 1: Adressing local and global contexts in research and education

    Global contexts are not the same everywhere: the specifics of local geography, history, and demographics always make these contexts into “glocal” ones. Such “glocalization” gives rise to research and teaching topics like:

    • How are humans always citizens of both local and global communities?
    • How can we incorporate local and global perspectives in research and teaching?
    • How can local communities influence processes of globalization?
    • In what ways should “glocalization” effect interdisciplinarity research and education?
  • Theme 2: People, concepts, and methods crossing borders

    Just like global contexts, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary education and research require participants to cross borders, familiarize themselves with new perspectives, and reorient themselves.  Ideas do not carry passports nor are they confined to distinct disciplines. Border-crossing will therefore be a returning theme during the conference, with sessions that focus on:

    • What is the impact of contemporary processes of nomadism, migration, travel, and nationalism in- and outside academia?
    • What does it mean to collaborate across disciplines, cultures, and perspectives?
    • How do we draw upon the experiences and insights of persons and groups that are often neglected?
    • How can we ensure effective knowledge transfer among universities, communities, firms and government?
    • What does it take to prepare future academics and professionals for international and intercultural engagements? 
  • Theme 3: Methodologies of interdisciplinary education and research

    “Glocalization” has led to differences in methods and practices, in norms and expectations of interdisciplinary studies. We expect to bring together scholars in the field of interdisciplinary education and research from different continents and spheres, ensuring a methodological diversity during the conference.

    • What background, principles, and methods of interdisciplinary research are in use? 
    • How can interdisciplinary research inform approaches to teaching and learning, and vice versa?
    • How does Interdisciplinarity relates to the rise of liberal education in Europe?
    • How can we learn at interfaces among contexts, sections, and/or domains?
  • Theme 4: Adjusting interdisciplinarity towards future challenges

    Due to “glocalization” and multi-dimensional border-crossing interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary alike,  teaching and research should prepare us for unpredictable futures. It is crucial to understand how interdisciplinary collaboration can succeed.

    • How can we advance the role of interdisciplinary education and research in the pursuit of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals?
    • How can we integrate and expand existing knowledge across disciplinary fields in the arts, humanities, and sciences?
    • What best practices might help to enhance the innovative character and creativity of individuals and collaborative teams?
    • How do we ensure that academics do not overlook the complex interrelationships of their work with global ecologies, economics, and societies?
    • How can we enhance the resilience of communities and societies in the face of rapid changes?

    In line with the practice at other AIS conferences, the program committee will also welcome more general presentations that advance the AIS mission, which is ‘to promote the interchange of ideas among scholars and administrators in all of the arts and sciences on intellectual and organizational issues related to interdisciplinary education and research.’