The Power of Distributed Perspectives

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Julia Warmers, one of our project coordinators, has just published an article within the series "Berlin Studies in Knowledge Research". Summarizing some of its content, she provides an insight into the infrastructure of inter- and transdisciplinary project work.

Many social problems can only be solved taking into account different perspectives. Hence inter- and transdisciplinary cooperations are becoming increasingly more important. Designing these cooperations is a challenge for everyone involved, but they hold valuable potentials for innovative thinking.

These assumptions were the starting point for writing an article for the anthology “The Power of Distributed Perspectives”, edited by Prof. Dr. Günther Abel (Professor of Theoretical Philosophy) and Prof. Dr. Martina Plümacher (Professor of Philosophy), both TU Berlin. The book just got published in October 2016 by De Gruyter within the series “Berlin Studies in Knowledge Research”.

Certainly, the Hybrid Team is aware of and made quite some experience with the difficulties and at the same time tremendous advantages of collaboration. Encouraging, supporting, and organizing cooperations between scientists, scholars, designers, and artists we have been successful with initiating large interdisciplinary research projects but also have been facing moments of failure in transdisciplinary processes. For this article, we decided to bring together two perspectives – with the viewpoint of Prof. Dr. Christoph Gengnagel as project leader and initiator of the Hybrid Plattform and with the scientific management’s perspective of coordinator Julia Warmers.

In our paper “New Dynamics through Cooperation – the Hybrid Platform as an Inter- and Transdisciplinary Conceptual and Research Space” we argue for the provision of an infrastructure in support of the inter- and transdisciplinary project work and the support of a transdisciplinary (“hybrid”) culture of knowledge and science. Transdisciplinary project work requires in its iterative processes specific instruments and methods that need to be developed yet. The article highlights e.g. the use of instruments and methods of presentation and reflection. For the irritations and divergences – specifically appearing in transdisciplinary contexts – develop their creative potential only if we manage to transform irritations and divergences, often due to differences of perspective, into an innovative project work.

We linked our evaluation of the specific case of Hybrid Plattform with general thoughts on the notion of inter- and transdisciplinarity and with an analysis of the extent to which something new can emerge if representatives of distinct disciplines collaborate. And finally, we evaluated the results and the specific added value of these forms of work and disciplinary constellations.

We hope, this is the perfect hint for new reading matter for the now long evenings this fall!

– Julia