Doctoral Research RDLE Effect Research Projects

Introduction to the RDLE effect

Thinking and Talking Across The Disciplines – the RDLE effect

The transformational effect of technology on how we live, and its application to different work disciplines are some of the ongoing societal challenges of the future. Radically rethinking our education system in order to cultivate creativity, innovation and thinking across the disciplines is one way of preparing for this future.

Post-graduate and post-doctoral researchers need to develop cross-disciplinary skills to communicate with, and apply their research to, industry organisations working in a similar discipline (such as IT or medicine) and with organisations working in other disciplines. Therefore researchers must develop new and different skills and perspectives. They must also learn insider inquiry; how to be immersed in local situations and generate contextually embedded knowledge that emerges from direct experience. Transforming graduate and post-graduate thinking and learning beyond their disciplinary boundaries is central to the transition from university to working life and to the need for research-based responses to the societal challenges identified earlier.

This study explores how an R&D project environment can create opportunities for researchers to develop the skills of insider inquiry and the ability to think and talk across disciplines; exploiting the potential of their research, which was carried out in their primary discipline, while being aware or open to its application in other disciplines. More precisely, the aim was to identify how to create learning spaces that enable one to think beyond one’s own discipline; to inquire from the inside; and to communicate across professional disciplinary divides. The overall objective was to explore how distinctive learning spaces can be built into R&D learning environments (RDLEs) in order to create opportunities for cross-disciplinary transformative learning to occur.

Doctoral Research Extended Doctorateness Research Projects

Introduction to Doctoral Education at the ‘Eye’ of the Perfect Storm

There is evidence of change in the context in which doctoral education is developing; in the need for research-based responses to the grand challenges facing society; and in the employability of the PhD. Key features of these changes identified by the EUA and the IUA, include quality research training, inter-disciplinarity, partnerships with industry, and a mentality of innovation. Researchers need to develop cross-disciplinary thinking in order to work with someone else within the discipline, outside the discipline or in practice. Therefore, PhD research has to contribute in different ways, and the researcher must develop new and different skills and perspectives. In particular, the researcher must come to see that to explore and exploit the value latent in their thesis research, it may be necessary to interact directly with researchers from other disciplines and, together, to progress from multi-disciplinary interaction to interdisciplinary outcomes.

The aim of this study is to identify how to create doctoral learning spaces that enable one to think beyond one’s own discipline, to communicate across traditional disciplinary divides, in order to exploit the potential in the thesis research while not diluting the (disciplinary) core of the research.

The TCD/UCD Innovation Academy was the context for Phase 1; and the University of Georgia will host Phase 2 in 2014. Results to date identify aspects of the learning space that impact on student’s ability to communicate across the disciplines, and to move from ‘intra-disciplinary’, to ‘multi-disciplinary’ to ‘inter-disciplinary’ ways of thinking and practicing.

Further steps will be identified for developing both doctoral programs at TCD (Irl) and UGA (USA). The need for more research into creating cross-disciplinary doctoral learning spaces in general is identified.