Interdisciplinarity in practice: Reflections from early-career researchers developing a risk-informed decision support environment for Tomorrow's cities

M.E. Filippi, A. Barcena, R. Šakić Trogrlić, G. Cremen, E.Y. Menteşe, R. Gentile, M.J. Creed, L.T. Jenkins, M. Kalaycioglu, D.P. Poudel, M. Muthusamy, V. Manandhar, S. Adhikari, M. Rai, A. Dhakal, B. Barake, K. Tarbali, Carmine Galasso, J. McCloskey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The concept of disaster risk is cross-disciplinary by nature and reducing disaster risk has become of interest for various disciplines. Yet, moving from a collection of multiple disciplinary perspectives to integrated interdisciplinary disaster risk approaches remains a fundamental challenge. This paper reflects on the experience of a group of early-career researchers spanning physical scientists, engineers and social scientists from different organisations across the global North and global South who came together to lead the refinement, operationalisation and testing of a risk-informed decision support environment for Tomorrow's Cities (TCDSE). Drawing on the notions of subjects and boundary objects, members of the group reflect on their individual and collective journey of transgressing disciplinary boundaries across three case studies between June–December 2021: operationalisation process of the TCDSE; development of a virtual urban testbed as a demonstration case for the implementation of the TCDSE; and consolidation of frequently asked questions about the TCDSE for communication purposes. The paper argues that (1) the production of boundary objects in interdisciplinary research nurtures relations of reciprocal recognition and the emergence of interdisciplinary subjects; (2) the intrinsic characteristics of boundary objects define the norms of engagement between disciplinary subjects and constrain the expression of interdisciplinary contradictions; and (3) affects and operations of power explain the contingent settlement of interdisciplinary disagreements and the emergence of new knowledge. Activating the interdisciplinary capacities of early-career researchers across disciplines and geographies is a fundamental step towards transforming siloed research practices to reduce disaster risk.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103481
JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
Volume85
Early online date16 Dec 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) under grant NE /S009000/1, Tomorrow's Cities Hub. In addition, the authors are grateful for the comments of three anonymous reviewers that greatly improved the quality of the manuscript.

Funding Information:
The empirical basis that informs this paper draws on the individual and collective experiences of members of the Tomorrow's Cities Early Career Risk Working Group (ECRWG) collated through group autoethnography. Tomorrow's Cities is the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Urban Disaster Risk Hub, a five-year global interdisciplinary research programme that aims to catalyse a transition from crisis management to multi-hazard risk-informed and inclusive planning and decision-making for cities in low- and middle-income countries [24]. The ECRWG consisted of seventeen early-career researchers spanning physical scientists, engineers and social scientists, based in different organisations across the global North and global South,1 whose collaborative work was overseen by two senior researchers. Over the course of seven months (June to December 2021), the ECRWG was tasked with translating the Tomorrow's Cities Decision Support Environment (TCDSE) concept pioneered by a team primarily composed of senior researchers [25] into a flexible operational framework to be applied in rapidly growing and expanding cities.The authors acknowledge funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) under grant NE/S009000/1, Tomorrow's Cities Hub. In addition, the authors are grateful for the comments of three anonymous reviewers that greatly improved the quality of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors

Keywords

  • interdisciplinarity
  • subjectivity
  • boundary object
  • early-career researchers
  • disaster risk

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  • Tomorrow’s Cities

    Filippi, M. E.

    23/03/20 → …

    Project: Research

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