Core competency and interdisciplinarity under debate

One of the issues in the recent debate on the state of affairs at AU is the discussion about core competency versus interdisciplinarity. Several researchers have offered their views on the issue – including two researchers from BSS.

2012.03.08 | Mette Gebauer Johannsen


It started with the problematisation of the academic level at Arts, where the culture has been described as being “permeated by enforced superficiality", where the students have been turned into primary and lower secondary school pupils, and where academic knowledge and depth have been replaced by empty words about interdisciplinarity.

Interdisciplinarity is also a key element in the BSS Strategy for 2012-2017. Here it is emphasised that the interdisciplinary approach can only be a success if you master a strong core competency. Otherwise, the quality of the research and teaching will suffer.

What do the researchers think?
Two researchers from BSS with many years of experience in interdisciplinary research and teaching have contributed to the debate by offering their views on how to succeed with an interdisciplinary focus, without compromising on depth and quality:

Core competency and interdisciplinarity complement each other
Lars Esbjerg, Associate Professor at the MAPP centre at AU, has considerable experience in interdisciplinary collaboration, which he believes can often provide the best solutions. However, strong core competency is an important prerequisite.

Associate Professor: The management should not interfere with research collaboration (only in Danish)
According to Christian Bjørnskov, Associate Professor in Economics, interdisciplinary research should emerge from an organic process between researchers, and not because the management thinks that it looks good on paper.

Join the debate
Is an interdisciplinary focus in research and education equivalent to a deterioration of the academic depth? Or is interdisciplinarity an important competence in relation to the labour market of today? Present your views on competency and interdisciplinarity on the website "Debate about Aarhus University"

Researchers from Arts on the issue of interdisciplinarity

New structure can impede interdisciplinarity
According to Professor Frederick Stjernfelt, both core competency and the unity between research and teaching are under pressure in the degree programmes at Arts.

Interdisciplinarity out of control in the master's degree programmes at Arts (only in Danish)
Professor Jacob Wamberg offers his view on the state of academic competence at Arts. He thinks that it is a problem that the department structure at Arts does not reflect the core competences.

Aarhus BSS, Staff
308627 / i40