The Mapungubwe Institute’s transdisciplinarity project was launched to interrogate frameworks of the application of transdisciplinarity in education and society generally. Case studies at specific centres of higher learning were identified with particular focus on identifying its implementation, successes, and constraints, in terms of developmental knowledge production and the lessons for education, research, and societal discourse.
The relevance of transdisciplinarity is highlighted by the fact that developing societies like South Africa still have to manage contradictions from their past with present demands such as building an inclusive society within the context of racial, economic, gender, spatial, and other categories.
Objectives of the Transdisciplinarity Project
Transdisciplinarity is an emerging approach that has yet to claim intellectual and institutional hegemony in South Africa and elsewhere. Transdisciplinarity is a research approach considered for use in areas of policy planning for educational curricula, development of previously unacknowledged discourses such as indigenous knowledge systems (IKS), and alignment of skills responsive to the country’s developmental and transformative challenges. The project’s objectives are summarised as follows:
§ Examine the application of transdisciplinarity in South Africa’s education system and the challenges presented by rigid approaches to knowledge production and dissemination.
§ Scrutinise the possibility of South Africa (through MISTRA and its institutional partners) integrating transdisciplinarity as a standard practice for developmental projects in education.
§ Interrogate the necessity of a reformulated approach towards addressing the legacy of apartheid, given that in a democracy new methods of understanding society require new methods of knowledge conceptualisation.
§ Analyse the change paradigm of the non-racial project in the twenty-first century and constraints presented by nationalism, ethnic, and religious mobilisation.
Objectives of the Transdisciplinarity Workshop
The Workshop is aimed at presenting for evaluation and critique, preliminary research findings from the two of three case studies selected for the project.
Case studies to be reported on comprise:
i. Fort Hare University - University-wide transdisciplinary implementation
ii. University of Johannesburg - Sustainable energy Technology and Research (SeTAR) Centre
iii. Witwatersrand University - School of Arts