Volume IV: What works, what matters, what lasts

Fostering Interdisciplinary Research

November 1, 2006

"...creativity in science, as in the arts, cannot be organized. It arises spontaneously from individual talent. Well-run laboratories can foster it, but hierarchical organization, inflexible, bureaucratic rules, and mountains for futile paperwork can kill it. Discoveries cannot be planned; they pop up, like Puck, in unexpected corners."
   — Max Perutz.

This essay from the 2005 Research Corporation Annual Report explores the critical obstacles to shaping interdisciplinary environments for research in scientific fields. These include:

  • existing institutional structures
  • tenure and promotion criteria
  • the education and training of the researchers of tomorrow
  • issues of communication, including time and space
  • funding organizations and peer review.

The options presented for overcoming those obstacles range from attention at the undergraduate level to shaping innovative spaces to foster communication.