For two thousand years, the advancement of knowledge has taken a path of increasing specialisation. Man has approached the comprehension of the world through the deconstructing of it into much smaller fragments that have given rise to all the disciplines that exist today along with their respective subdisciplines in order to be able to foretell, or at least explain, the behaviour of nature, humanity, and society.
Today, dangerous pollution levels and global environmental degradation endanger the very existence of life on our planet. Now, more than ever, there is an urgent need for professionals from all sectors of engineering and science to come together and work together to find sustainable solutions to sustain economic growth without harming the environment in any way whatsoever.
It is crucial to note that we have a critical need to solve societal problems in a world subject to many forces - the most pressing example today is the consequence of a failure to fully understand all the forces unleashed by the free movement of capital and globalisation.
Until recently, we had an urgent focus on climate change, where we need to look at, among other aspects, how oceans and rivers are impacted by excessive land use and the effects of rapid industrialization, atmospheric elements and solar radiation. These subsystems are connected in time and space and incorporate multiple feedback mechanisms.
The complexity presented in each of these real-world examples requires multidisciplinary research that spans the natural and social sciences if we're to acquire the kind of predictive ability that could inform decision makers.
Finally, we know that the tools we have to analyse the globe are most often transformational when extracted from outside the field that they were discovered by, such as the discovery of X-rays by physicists and their influence on medicine, or the creation of the Internet by the U.S military and its influence on communication in society in general.
When it comes to the current global knowledge landscape, there are influential drivers for innovation through multidisciplinary research to be carried on. The 'World Conference on Multidisciplinary Research & Innovation (WCMRI)' which will take place on the 28th & 29th of October, 2023, in Singapore, will seek to continue to raise awareness on these drivers and thereby continue to promote the innovation that takes place as a result of multidisciplinary research.Interdisciplinary research either requires an individual researcher to gain a deep understanding of two or more disciplines and master their language and methodologies, or more frequently requires multidisciplinary teams to come together and create a common base of understanding and framework for discovery and research innovation.
Truly original ideas cannot be forced, but arise spontaneously and unpredictably, even for the inventors themselves. However, personnel departments – now aptly called “human resources” – prefer people who create in an orderly fashion, bit by bit, on schedule. Reflecting this commodity-focused mindset, they prepare annual performance interview forms that are more suited to measuring the performance of auto salespeople than scientific researchers.
Corporates go on endlessly about how they foster creativity and innovativity research. In many companies, one can constantly hear about the company's "vision", but, of course, the vision actually clashes head-on with the conservative managerial mindset. The bandwagon that all companies have jumped on is combinatorial chemistry. The idea is to stop thinking altogether - check your brain at the gate - and just do random compounds. The chance of a particular compound being active is very low, but if you craft enough compounds you might get a hit that can be developed into a useful drug.
As it’s creativity that is the origin of innovation, it can be considered an essential component of multidisciplinary R&D success, and that creativity in multidisciplinary projects should be the point of focus. For this, the multidisciplinary researcher must be able to discern the types of creativity. At the 'World Conference on Multidisciplinary Research & Innovation (WCMRI)', participants will learn about the following five types of scientific creativity and how to use them to their advantage -
The formulation of a new idea (or set of new ideas) that opens up a new cognitive framework or brings theoretical claims to a new level of sophistication (basic assumptions give rise to theory, e.g. specific relativity theory of Einstein).
The discovery of a unique empirical phenomenon that fosters new theorising (observation gives rise to theory, e.g. Darwin's theory of evolution).
The development of a brand new methodology, by means of which theoretical problems can be tested empirically (theory gives rise to method).
The invention of a new instrument that opens new research perspectives and new fields of research (technique gives rise to new possibilities).
The new synthesis of formerly dispersed ideas into general theoretical laws allows the analysis of various phenomena within a common cognitive framework (simple ideas give rise to general theory, e.g. general systems theory).
The theme of the 'World Conference on Multidisciplinary Research & Innovation (WCMRI)' will be
'Pursuing A Critical Stance At The Foreign, Economic, Cultural, & Academic Policies That Are Impacting Innovation In Multidisciplinary Research Worldwide'.
Academic institutions are largely organised to promote the advancement of individual disciplines or sub-disciplines. Policies governing hiring, promotion and resource allocation often run counter to interdisciplinary research. If multidisciplinary research innovation is to thrive in academia, then reward systems in academia must recognize the different pace at which multidisciplinary research can advance and the fact that it is often a team effort rather than of individual accomplishment.
There is also the need for adaptable organisational structures that can work across discipline-focused departments. Research institutes and centres with seed funding can encourage multidisciplinary research. But more fundamental advances can emerge from building a body of academic work that affirms common languages and frameworks in particular fields and analyses what makes multidisciplinary research successful. Such approaches are not new and are already being pursued across the planet. Participants of the conference will get an insider's perspective of what these policies are and how they are positively impacting multidisciplinary research innovation at these institutions.
peer review systems that rely heavily on experts from a single discipline, and the reality that cross-disciplinary peer review committees are not easy to set up and operate;
the additional time necessary for multidisciplinary teams to learn to develop a common language and framework of study is a barrier in a competitive system focused on research results;
how to set performance objectives for evaluating a multidisciplinary research program;
multidisciplinary research is likely to be pricey; multiple lead investigators must come together with disparate capabilities;
supporting multidisciplinary research requires an increased tolerance for risk. It often happens that when an agency calls for a multidisciplinary program, pressure is exerted from all sides to make promises that cannot possibly be fulfilled and under-budgeted, causing the inevitable problem of not performing as expected.