Transdisciplinary scholarship​

Elevating transdisciplinary scholarship​

A bold approach​ to research​

The University of Calgary has released its plan, Unstoppable, to keep its Eyes High ambitions to be a great research university at the heart of a resilient community.

One of the big ideas within this plan is to elevate transdisciplinary scholarship at the University by incentivizing working across faculty lines and reducing the barriers our students, faculty and staff face when the attempt to do so.

Transdisciplinary scholarship is scholarship built around problems and possibilities, not professions. Its focus is on building knowledge between, across and beyond traditional disciplines.

In a complex time of ever-increasing specialization, it’s a way to tackle the big questions of our day that do not fit into one department or one faculty. It’s a way to create entirely new areas of knowledge and coming to entirely novel solutions. The world needs more of it.

We will be building a University of Calgary-specific approach to transdisciplinary scholarship. It will involve continued curation of disciplinary excellence, encouraging deep collaboration among scholars across our university and engaging with the community to define problems, contribute resources and field-test solutions. This will occur in conjunction with a strengthened emphasis on equity, diversity and inclusion that brings in more viewpoints and experiences, strengthening the solutions we provide.

Carol Emery

How we get more transdisciplinary activity

All actions are subject to further development based on community feedback and University of Calgary governance processes.

Retain faculty structure, assess departmental structure

Develop: Sep - Dec 2020         
Implement: Winter 2021


Consider opportunities to reduce administrative overhead and increase agility by moving to a less departmentalized structure. ​

Create “Transdisciplinary Academy”​

Develop: Sep-Dec 2020         
Implement: Spring 2021

Drive transdisciplinary scholarship, teaching and learning. Enables us to rally around big societal issues, connecting scholars, and reducing barriers. Builds on University’s experience with the Confederation of Scholars and Communities of Practice models.​

Enable and incentivize this transdisciplinary approach​

Develop: Sep-Dec 2020
Implement: Spring/Summer 2021


These changes, in combination, reduce the walls between colleagues and the gaps between specialties. The “Transdisciplinary Academy” is an incubator of transdisciplinary scholarship that is responsible for fostering connections across our campus and helping scholars tackle the big questions.

Changes are not planned to the number or composition of faculties.

What this means for you

For students, a transdisciplinary approach will mean more exposure to experts from outside of your area of specialization and more opportunities to tackle big problems, truly meaningful work.

For faculty and staff, it means more freedom to take on truly meaningful work you are passionate about and more ability to use your specialization in unconventional ways that provide real value to our community.

For our community, it means a strengthened focus on providing answers to the big questions and the difficult challenges.

How we will measure success

Measurements under consideration or development 

  • number of transdisciplinary projects underway
  • percentage of time spent on projects that span two or more faculties
  • number of students involved in transdisciplinary programs or projects
  • percentage of faculty and staff who have been trained in transdisciplinary scholarship
  • percentage of students, faculty and staff who agree that the university emphasizes a transdisciplinary approach to scholarship