Engaging students around complex socioscientific issues : affordances and tensions of faculty working across disciplines to develop transdisciplinary curricula Public Deposited

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  • There is growing recognition of the importance of engaging postsecondary students in experiences that can heighten their ability to solve complex socio-scientific problems. Transdisciplinary experiences are required to integrate and synthesize knowledge, skills, and ways of thinking across typical disciplinary boundaries reflected in higher education institutions. Creating transdisciplinary student experiences, given faculty's dominant rooting within a discipline and the academy's structures and practice-norms, is challenging. Across-discipline collaborations are novel. We lack insight into successful examples and the affordances and constraints that faculty encounter working with others on transdisciplinary experiences for students. We detail a phenomenological study that describes sciences, business, and social science faculty experiences across three institutions to develop a transdisciplinary curriculum. Faculty were motivated by their professional development needs, improved teaching practices, and developed curricula that would enhance student learning. Faculty experienced tensions related to navigating norms, practices, and language, the suitability of transdisciplinary curricula, and confidence in teaching and collaborating across disciplines. Project leaders were effective facilitators and co-developers, essential to curricular development's success. We discuss implications for faculty, academic leaders, administrators, and other stakeholders interested in future efforts that involve faculty working across disciplines to develop transdisciplinary curricula to meet societal needs.
  • Keywords: transdisciplinary, curriculum development, undergraduate, higher education faculty, improvement initiative
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