Cross-disciplinary Dialogue in Academia: Debating Complexity and Organic Development at Singapore Management University
Here I present an overview of a discussion group created at the School
of Economics and Social Sciences, Singapore Management University. In
regular yet informal meetings, researchers from fields as diverse as
economics, management, political sciences, philosophy, religion,
physics, and biology, discuss issues related to complexity, chaos,
dynamical systems, evolution, and organic development.
To foster cross-disciplinary understanding, the group chooses one scholarly article at a time to debate the oftentimes diverse meanings ascribed to both vocabularies and concepts across the research cultures. I will give examples of the kinds of papers discussed and the issues raised during debates. I will describe our experience with the format of the group discussions, interests, and participation levels.
Cross-disciplinary approaches often meet practical limits when
participants have to "step out" of their original fields of expertise and risk exposure to easy criticism when venturing onto subjects unfamiliar to them. At the same time, knowledge of analogous approaches across disciplines is essential for maximum knowledge distribution. I will address this issue for the risk-averse Asian context.