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School students divide the world into science, mathematics, history, and so on. Those working at companies divide the world into tech, marketing, sales, and so on. However, there are a lot of connections between these areas of expertise, and innovation comes from spotting these connections and delving into them. 

Connections can occur in various types including:

  1. interdisciplinary,
  2. multidisciplinary, and
  3. transdisciplinary

Interdisciplinarity is found at the intersection of disciplines. For instance, chemical biology sits at the intersection of chemistry and biology. Similarly, many areas of sales and marketing intersect, and so do product and marketing. On the other hand, multidisciplinarity involves solving problems by attacking that problem using multiple disciplines. As an example, consider climate change. To solve climate change, you need physics to understand the phenomenon. However, you also need to create an implementable solution which world governments will be able to accept. 

While Inquire's learning experiences involve inter and multi-disciplinarity, our main focus is transdisciplinarity. There are many concepts, tools, and ways of knowing which apply to many disciplines. For instance, the concept of change applies to many disciplines ranging from physics to anthropology. The concept of theory finds a place across disciplines including science, mathematics, ethics and aesthetics. Even in the world of work, concepts like strategy and negotiation find a place in almost all functional areas. An understanding of these and the ability to use them well gives a person the ability to move between disciplines and functional areas with relative ease as compared to somebody who only has expertise in their own area without any visibility on how what they are doing is similar to what others are doing.

Inquire's approach is to teach transdisciplinary skills which are applicable across different disciplines and functional areas. We do this by introducing concepts and tools which can be used in various contexts. This helps students develop the ability to recognize connections, think creatively, and develop solutions which are tailored to their context. We also provide our students with the opportunity to practice these skills in a controlled environment. This helps them develop the confidence to use them in real-world situations.

Our approach to transdisciplinary learning is based on the idea that knowledge should be seen as a web of interconnected concepts, tools, and processes. This idea gives our students the ability to move between disciplines and functional areas with ease and confidence. It also enables them to spot connections which lead to innovative solutions. By developing transdisciplinary skills, students can open up new possibilities and opportunities which they might not have considered before.

This blog post was written by Madhav.