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FINNUT-Forskning og innovasjon i utdanningssektoren

Academic Hospitality in Interdisciplinary Education

Alternative title: Akademisk Gjestfrihet i Tverrfaglig Utdanning

Awarded: NOK 11.6 mill.

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Project Period:

2021 - 2026


The last fifty years have seen an increasing call for interdisciplinary education, research, and work as a means to solve problems that we currently face, such as climate change, pandemics, and social inequality. Yet, research reports that collaboration on interdisciplinary teaching and research can be challenging. The AHIE project will contribute to solving problems of collaboration in interdisciplinary teaching and learning by focusing on better education in study programmes that are intended to prepare students for interdisciplinary research and work. The project will be guided by the concept of academic hospitality, which describes different ways of collaboration among academics and students, including giving and receiving from each other materials, resources, ideas, concepts, methods, or respect. Consider an example of an interdisciplinary course on the corona pandemic taught by an historian and an epidemiologist. Although they could teach serially, with one teaching the biology of viruses one week, and the other teaching about 20th and 21st century pandemics the next. Instead, they invest time and bring open minds to teach their course with academic hospitality. Their students witness how they ask about the other’s discipline and discuss nuances inherent to each discipline that can often be lost if the disciplines are taught serially. The educators also develop assignments asking groups of students to demonstrate academic hospitality as they integrate concepts and methods from the two disciplines. Helping their students try out academic hospitality in practice and collectively reflect on/deliberate on their experiences, may equip them with understanding, skills, and expertise to work interdisciplinarily to transform intractable problems—for example a pandemic—into sustainable solutions, thus creating more viable futures for all.

The purpose of AHIE is to develop research-based practices and materials to improve collaboration in interdisciplinary education. The need for these practices and materials arise from national and international policy-makers’ calls to use interdisciplinarity as a means to solve complex problems democracies face, such as climate change or social inequality. Thus, universities need to provide education to prepare their students well for interdisciplinary work or research. However, research has shown collaboration can be a challenge in interdisciplinary teaching and learning. We consider collaboration as necessary in and for interdisciplinary education, with academic hospitality as one means to ensure and/or improve collaboration. We use the concept of academic hospitality as a point of departure because it describes when and how academics from different disciplinary tribes share ideas, methods, and concepts; provide resources to other academics or students; receive and welcome academic colleagues and include students in their work; and use language to communicate across disciplines. We will use academic hospitality as an analytical framework to analyse data on interdisciplinary study programmes collected from academics, university leaders, and students at six universities in five countries. The project will also conduct empirical research on universities' policies and procedures that militate against or support environments where academics live out academic hospitality. One point of the project’s originality is the AHIE Hub, consisting of the AHIE Hub website, an open-access platform to share artifacts, data, recommendations, and peer-reviewed publications from the AHIE project and the AHIE Hub Forum. The Forum will be an offline arena for AHIE researchers and stakeholders to co-create research-based recommendations for using academic hospitality adapted for those who lead, teach, or make policies to improve collaboration in interdisciplinary education.

Funding scheme:

FINNUT-Forskning og innovasjon i utdanningssektoren