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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/F032749/1
Title: The TRANSIT Programme - Discipline Bridging at the University of York
Principal Investigator: Caves, Dr LSD
Other Investigators:
Stepney, Professor S Sebald, Dr A Wood, Dr AJ
Delius, Dr GW Timmis, Professor J
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Biology
Organisation: University of York
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 07 January 2008 Ends: 06 January 2011 Value (£): 374,443
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Chemical Biology Complexity Science
Information & Knowledge Mgmt Non-linear Systems Mathematics
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
12 Sep 2007 Bridging the Gap - Sift Panel Deferred
03 Oct 2007 Bridging the Gap Interviews Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Research at Universities and other organisations underpins the scientific, technological and medical advances that increasingly influence and drive society and commerce. The degree of training and knowledge required to operate at the cutting edge of scientific research is such that scientists are increasingly specialised to their own field. Scientists in a given field (like any community) have a tendency to develop their own methods and (often impenetrable) jargon. This specialisation is entrenched within universities, where different disciplines are often located in separate departments As a consequence, scientists are more likely to interact with those within their own discipline than with colleagues in other disciplines, leading to a rather narrow focus to research activities. Why don't scientists from different disciplines work together? Individual scientists have their own performance targets and this leads to a tendency to work in their own area, where they are more likely to be competitive. Learning about other fields can be time consuming. This investment can jeopardise output and thus career prospects / if the activity is not fully supported by the institution. However some problems are so large that they require large teams of scientists to work together. Sometimes this is achieved by a divide and conquer method / where individual disciplines are brought to bear on separate parts of a large problem (multidisciplinary research). Other problems require scientists need to work together to solve a problem, bringing to bear their own individual disciplinary expertise (interdisciplinary research). The latter approach requires the scientists to be able to communicate and understand each other. The extra difficulties that this approach requires means that increasingly, interdisciplinary research is performed in dedicated centres, or virtual communities over the internet. Is there another way? To tackle really difficult problems (e.g. the origin of life, or climate change) we need researchers to break down the barriers of jargon, and their own biases, to really work together, to discover novel approaches, which would not have arisen otherwise (transdisciplinary research). In seeking to create novel ideas we want to make sure that we use the best thinking about thinking to do so. We will use the techniques of Edward de Bono who is famous for promoting lateral thinking. So how can the University of York move towards transdisciplinarity? We need to encourage scientists across the institution to meet, interact and share. We propose a range of activities, called TRANSIT (TRANSition from Interdisciplinarity to Transdisciplinarity) to develop a truly transdisciplinary culture. Physically, we will encourage people to meet, discuss and share once a week / on TRANSITday / when there will be a series lunchtime events that will showcase research work and problems across disciplines in the area of complex systems (those not understandable by breaking them into smaller bits). We will build a community of researchers who begin to know each others' ways of thinking, talking and working. To enhance this community we will also invite scientists from other institutions to visit and work with us. Alongside TRANSITday we will develop a virtual community called the TRANSITmap (like a MySpace for scientists) in which staff can list their interests, and skills are and also what they are working on. Crucially, they will also list who they work with. We will also look into the idea of exchanging tokens as a currency of interaction to see if this encourages collegiality. Another aspect of TRANSIT is to provide small amounts of money and/or a talented student to run small-scale feasibility studies. This is important as to attract external funding you need to be able to demonstrate that your idea is promising.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Summary
Date Materialised
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Project URL: www.york.ac.uk/yccsa
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.york.ac.uk