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The End of Disciplinarity: Talk with Robert Frodeman
Thursday, April 26, 2012 - 5:15pm

April 26, 2012
Portland State University, Parson’s Gallery, Urban Center Building, second floor

Robert Frodeman
Director of the Center for the Study of Interdisciplinarity
and Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Texas


What is the end—that is, the goal—of disciplinarity?

The end of disciplinarity does not mean the end of disciplines, which will continue to be central to the academic enterprise for a variety of practical and institutional reasons. But it does mean that disciplinarity will no longer function as the end of education. 

This talk consists of two parts. In the first part Frodeman will offer an account of the disciplinary era of knowledge, and provide a set of reasons for thinking that this era is coming to an end. In the second part, he'll describe the imperatives of a new, inter- and transdisciplinary age of knowledge production. He offers several themes:  

  • Interdisciplinarity is complementary to rather than antagonistic with disciplinarity
  • Interdisciplinarity is a philosophic project, not a method
  • Interdisciplinarity implies the need to develop a post-disciplinary approach to the humanities
  • In an interdisciplinary era, autonomy should be seen as co-equal with accountability

Robert Frodeman is Director of the Center for the Study of Interdisciplinarity and Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy and Religion Studies at the University of North Texas. He specializes in environmental philosophy, science policy, and questions concerning interdisciplinarity. Holder of advanced degrees in philosophy (a PhD, from Penn State) and geology (a masters from the University of Colorado), he has held positions at the University of Texas, the University of Tennessee, and the University of Colorado. He served as a consultant for the US Geological Survey for eight years, was the 2001-2002 Hennebach Professor of the Humanities at the Colorado School of Mines, and was an ESRC Fellow at Lancaster University in England in the spring of 2005. Frodeman is Editor in Chief of the Oxford Handbook of Interdisciplinarity.