Volume 3 Issue 2 (2007): On Beyond Interdisciplinarity
Rethinking the Questions

Interdisciplinarity, Transdisciplinarity, and Beyond: The Brain, Story Sharing, and Social Organization

Paul Grobstein
Formerly: Bryn Mawr College
Published October 25, 2007
  • inquiry,
  • brain,
  • emergence,
  • hierarchy,
  • distributed organization,
  • story
  • ...More


An apparent conflict between preferences for hierarchical as opposed to distributed organizations is evident in arguments about disciplinary and interdisciplinary organization. It characterizes as well a wide array of other arenas ranging from the biological to the political. In this article, parallels between biological, neurobiological, and social observations are explored in an effort to outline a general approach that may be useful in thinking about interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary activities as well as forms of social organization in general. A key element in the approach is an ongoing individual and collective process of story creation, sharing, and revising. The article is offered both as a contribution to better understanding interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary work and as an illustrative example of the potentials and problems of such work.