I am happy to see that the first point in the new UiO strategy plan is interdisciplinarity, or more specifically: “Et grensesprengende universitet”. Interdisciplinarity is always easier in theory than in practice, and this is something I am debating in a feature article in the latest volume (pages 32-33) of Forskerforum, the journal of the The Norwegian Association of Researchers (Forskerforbundet).
I have written about interdisciplinarity on this blog several times before (here, here and here). In the new article I use interdisciplinarity to not only refer to adjacent scientific disciplines, but in a more general sense. I use some of my own work as the point of departure: the video analysis work that ended up as the Musical Gestures Toolbox started out as an artistic project, was later developed within my scientific PhD work, and is now being used for both artistic projects (e.g. by Victoria Johnson), research on ADHD (Terje Sagvolden’s group) and clinical use in the analysis of children with cerebral palsy (Lars Adde).
Unfortunately, getting support (economically, administrative, etc.) for such interdisciplinary research (including both scientific and artistic research) is currently not possible in Norway. In fact, the Norwegian Research Council does not fund artistic research at all, and the Research fellowship in the arts program does not fund scientific research.
In the end of my feature article I suggest three points to the Norwegian universities and the Norwegian Research Council for how to improve the conditions for interdisciplinary research in Norway:
- Set up truly interdisciplinary committees for all research funding
- Open for projects that contain both scientific and artistic research
- Set aside 10% of all research funding (in all disciplines) to be used for artistic work