Arts and Humanities

Written by,
: Prof. Dr. Gunawan, M.Pd
Why transdisciplinary learning?
Explore resources on transdisciplinary learning to reach a shared understanding of its
definition, vision, scope and purpose in educational reform.
Compare and contrast elements of multi- , inter- and transdisciplinary units.
Visual diagram adapted from Beyond the Boundaries (Kaufman, Moss, Osborn).
How does transdisciplinary learning connect to Understanding by Design, the Vision of the
Graduate and curriculum realignments ?
1. Explore possible unifying issues/inquiry topics for transdisciplinary learning.
2. How does the Vision of a Graduate compare to our shared understanding of
transdisciplinary learning?
3. How does Understanding by Design connect with the vision of transdisciplinary
4. How do changes in curricular areas connect to the idea of transdisicplinary learning?
Transdisciplinarity connotes a research strategy that crosses many disciplinary
boundaries to create a holistic approach. It applies to research efforts focused on problems that
cross the boundaries of two or more disciplines, such as research on effective
informationsystems for biomedical research (see bioinformatics), and can refer to concepts or
methods that were originally developed by one discipline, but are now used by several others,
such as ethnography, a field research method originally developed in anthropology but now
widely used by other disciplines.
Transdisciplinarity has two common meanings:
1. German Usage
In German speaking countries, it refers to integration of diverse forms of research, and includes
specific methods for relating scientific knowledge in problem-solving. A 2003 conference held
in Göttingen showcased the diverse meanings of multi-, inter- and transdisciplinarity and made
suggestions for converging them without eliminating present usages.
When the very nature of a problem is under dispute, transdisciplinarity can help determine the
most relevant problems and research questions involved. A first type of question concerns the
cause of the present problems and their future development (system knowledge). Another
concerns which values and norms can be used to form goals of the problem-solving process
(target knowledge). A third relates to how a problematic situation can be transformed and
improved (transformation knowledge). Transdisciplinarity requires adequate addressing of the
complexity of problems and the diversity of perceptions of them, that abstract and case-specific
knowledge are linked, and that practices promote the common good.
Transdisciplinarity arises when participating experts interact in an open discussion and dialogue,
giving equal weight to each perspective and relating them to each other. This is difficult because
of the overwhelming amount of information involved, and because of incommensurability of
specialized languages in each field of expertise. To excel under these conditions, scientists need
not only in-depth knowledge and know-how of the disciplines involved, but skills in moderation,
mediation, association and transfer.
1. Wider usage
Transdisciplinarity is also used to signify a unity of knowledge beyond disciplines.
Jean Piaget introduced this usage of the term in 1970, and in 1987, the International Center for
Transdisciplinary Research (CIRET) adopted the Charter of Transdisciplinarity at the 1st World
Congress of Transdisciplinarity.
In the CIRET approach, transdisciplinarity is radically distinct from interdisciplinarity.
Interdisciplinarity, like pluridisciplinarity, concerns the transfer of methods from one discipline
to another, allowing research to spill over disciplinary boundaries, but staying within the
framework of disciplinary research.
As the prefix "trans" indicates, transdisciplinarity concerns that which is at once between the
disciplines, across the different disciplines, and beyond each individual discipline. Its goal is the
understanding of the present world, of which one of the imperatives is the overarching unity of
Another critical defining characteristic of transdisciplinary research is the inclusion of
stakeholders in defining research objectives and strategies in order to better incorporate the
diffusion of learning produced by the research. Collaboration between stakeholders is deemed
essential – not merely at an academic or disciplinary collaboration level, but through active
collaboration with people affected by the research and community-based stakeholders. In such a
way, transdisciplinary collaboration becomes uniquely capable of engaging with different ways
of knowing the world, generating new knowledge, and helping stakeholders understand and
incorporate the results or lessons learned by the research.
Transdisciplinarity is defined by Basarab Nicolescu through three methodological postulates: the
existence of levels of Reality, the logic of the included middle, and complexity. In the presence
of several levels of Reality the space between disciplines and beyond disciplines is full of
information. Disciplinary research concerns, at most, one and the same level of Reality ;
moreover, in most cases, it only concerns fragments of one level of Reality. On the contrary,
transdisciplinarity concerns the dynamics engendered by the action of several levels of Reality at
once. The discovery of these dynamics necessarily passes through disciplinary knowledge. While
not a new discipline or a new superdiscipline, transdisciplinarity is nourished by disciplinary
research; in turn, disciplinary research is clarified by transdisciplinary knowledge in a new,
fertile way. In this sense, disciplinary and transdisciplinary research are not antagonistic but
complementary. As in the case of disciplinarity, transdisciplinary research is not antagonistic but
complementary to multidisciplinarity and interdisciplinarity research.
multidisciplinarity and interdisciplinarity because of its goal, the understanding of the present
world, which cannot be accomplished in the framework of disciplinary research. The goal of
multidisciplinarity and interdisciplinarity always remains within the framework of disciplinary
research. If transdisciplinarity is often confused with interdisciplinarity and multidisciplinarity
(and by the same token, we note that interdisciplinarity is often confused with
multidisciplinarity) this is explained in large part by the fact that all three overflow disciplinary
boundaries. Advocates maintain this confusion hides the huge potential of transdisciplinarity.
Arts and Humanities
Transdisciplinarity can be found in the arts and humanities. For example, the Planetary
Collegium seeks "the development of transdisciplinary discourse in the convergence of art,
science, technology and consciousness research."
Human Sciences
The range of transdisciplinarity becomes clear when the four central questions of biological
research ((1) causation, (2) ontogeny, (3)adaptation, (4) phylogeny [after Niko Tinbergen 1963,
see also Tinbergen's four questions, cf. Aristotle: Causality / Four Major Causes]) are graphed
against distinct levels of analysis (e.g. cell, organ, individual, group; [cf. "Laws about the Levels
of Complexity" of Nicolai Hartmann 1940/1964, see also Rupert Riedl 1984])
Causation Ontogeny Adaptation Phylogeny
In this “scheme of transdisciplinarity”, all anthropological disciplines (paragraph C in the table
of the pdf-file below), their questions (paragraph A: see pdf-file) and results (paragraph B: see
pdf-file) can be intertwined and allocated with each other [for examples how these aspects go
into those little boxes in the matrix, see e.g. the table "The Framework of Anthropological
Research" (PDF).] This chart includes all realms of anthropological research (no one is
excluded). It is the starting point for a systematical order for all human sciences, and also a
source for a consistent networking and structuring of their results. This “bio-psycho-social”
orientation framework is the basis for the development of the "Fundamental Theory of Human
Sciences" and for a transdisciplinary consensus. (In this tabulated orientation matrix the
questions and reference levels in italics are also the subject of the humanities.)
transcdisiplinarity means?
“We speak the language of our discipline, which raises two problems: first, we may not
understand the languages of the other disciplines; second, more dangerously, we may think
that we understand these, but do not, because although the same terms are used in diferent
disciplines, they mean something very different in each (Somerville, dalam Symposium
Transdisiplin: Menstimulasi sinergi, memadukan pengetahuan, UNESCO, 1998”
Inilah dia pentingnya transcdisiplinarity, suatu disiplin tidak pernah berdiri sendiri seperti orang
autis yang asik dalam dunianya sendiri. Om Somervile bilang, terkadang kita bicara dengan
bahasa disiplin kita sendiri, yang justeru akan menghasilkan dua permasalahan. Pertama, kita
mungkin tidak memahami bahasa disiplin lain. Kedua, ini yang lebih berbahaya, kita mungkin
berpikir bahwa kita memahami bahasa disiplin kita, tapi ternyata tidak, karena mesikipun istilah
yang sama digunakan dalam disiplin yang berbeda, istilah atau konsep tersebut memiliki makna
yang berbeda, sangat berbeda.
Jadi, apakah yang dimaksud dengan transdisciplinarity? Kita ambil saja satu atau dua definisi
sebagai beirkut:
Joint problem solving among science, technology and society (Julie Tomphson Klein, 2001)
pemecahan masalah bersama antara sains, teknologi dan masyarakat. Satu definisi lagi
lah biar mantap. Ini dia:
TransdiscipIinariy is integrating and transforming fields of knowledge from multiple
perspectives to enhance understanding of problems to be addressed, in order to improve future
choices. (Gavan McDonel, 1998)
McDonel agak lebih oprasional menjelaskan transdisciplinarity, yaitu mengeintegrasikan
dan mentransformasi suatu bidang pengetahuan dai multi atau berbagai perspektif
untuk meningkatkan pemahaman terhadap maslah yang dicoba dipecahkan untuk
meningkatkan keputusan pilihan dimasa mendatang. Begitu kira-kira.
Dari definisi di atas, apakah transdisciplin sebagai disiplin baru atau pendekatan?
Massimiliano menjelaskan sebagai beirkut:
Transdisciplinarity is not a discipline but an approach, a process to increase knowledge by
integrating and transforming different perspectives. (Massimiliano Lattanzi, 1998)
Transdiscipline bukanlah suatu disiplin tapu suatu pendekatan, suatu proses untuk
meningkatkan pengetahuan dengan mengintegrasikan
dan mentransformasikan
beragam perspektif yang berbeda-beda.
Sampai sini, saya mulai paham. Anda juga tentunya. Bukan begitu?
transdiscipline? Ada juga jawabannya dari Mbah Massini. Ini dia:
The difference between an interdisciplinary and a transdisciplinary approach is as follows: in
the former, disciplines offer a parallel analysis of problems (..); in the latter, disciplines offer
their specific approaches and even basic assumptions, to a dialogue, in order to address
complex issues together. In the case of transdisciplinarity, approaches and even methods are
developed in a joint effort, something which is indeed difficuIt in complex societies, but very
necessary ( . .) (Masini, 1998)
Perbedaan antara pendekatan interdisiplin dengan transdisiplin adalah sebagai beirkut.
Interdisiplin menawarkan analaisis masalah secara paralel; sedangkan transdisiplin menawarkan
pendekatan yang spesifik dan bahkan asumsi dasara, untuk suatu dialog, untuk memahami isu
kompleks bersama. Dalam kasus transdiciplinarity, baik pendekatan maupun metode
dikembangkan dalam suatu usaha bersama, sesuatu yang memang benar-benar sulit dalam
masyarakat yang kompleks, tapi sangat dibutuhkan.
Jadi, pendekatan transdisciplinarity sangat dibutuhkan untuk memecahkan permasalahan dalam
masyarakat yang sangat kompleks ini. Tidak lagi setiap masalah dilihat secara parsial dari satu
sisi, tapi harus mensinergikan dengan perspektif lain.
sebagai contoh, dalam slide presentasi ini saya analogikan dengan sebuah kursi dengan
penyangga empat kaki yang membuat kita duduk nyaman. Pertanyaannya, apakah jika salah satu
kakinya patah atau tidak berpfungsi, kenyamanan duduk kita berkurang 25%? Jawabannya ya,
jika kita pandang dari persfektif operasi hitung matematika dasar (pembagian). Tapi
kenyataanya, tidak demikian bukan? walaupun hanya 1 kaki kursi yang tidak berfungsi, kalau
dilihat dari perspektif ergonomi, ternyata kenyamanan duduk kita jadi hilang lebih dari 25%
bahkan mungkin 90%. Memecahkan masalah kenyamanan dalam duduk ternyata bukan hanya
milik disiplin ilmu matematika, dan fisika, tapi juga biologi, ergonomi, dan mungkin bahkan
psikologi berbicara disana. Anda tahu, Bill Gate mengembangkan software Microsoft untuk
memecahkan satu masalah sederhana, yaitu "userfriendliness", harus menghire ahli dari berbagai
disiplin mulai dari ahli mata, ahli komunikasi visual, ahli grafis, ahli psikologi, ahli komputer,
ahli pemrograman, ahli fisika, dan banyak lagi ...
Sampai sini, pasti lebih paham lagi. Oke kita lanjutkan ...
Untuk memahami lebih jauh, bagaimana pendekatan transdisiplinarity digunakan untuk
memahami suatu pengetahuan, berikut diberkan dua contoh pendekatan transdisciplinarity yang
dilakukan oleh Edelman dan Changeux. Edelman berupayam memahami "kesadaran
(consciousness)" dari perspektif neuroscience (teori tentang otak) dan psikologi. Sementara
Changeux, lengkapnya Pierre Jean Changeux (Prancis), mencoba memahami tentang capable
person (katakanlah orang yang mengenal jati dirinya dan perannya dalam dunia ini) dilihat dari
perspektif neuroscience (teori tentang otak), sosial budaya, etika, dan agama.
Hasil Penelitian Edelman
Beberapa temuan Edelman dengan menggunakan pendekatan transdisciplinarity adalah sebagai
1. Kesadaran merupakan fenomena kompleks dalam persinggungan antara biologi dan
Teknologi MRI dan MEG, membantu Edelman menemukan teori bahwa antara biologi dan
psikologi dalam konteks terjadinya “consciousness” bukanlah sesuatu yang terpisah, tapi saling
overlap, saling berdamai, saling sinergi kasualitas timbal balik yang menyatukan keduanya
walaupun memang keduanya berbeda.
. Otak manusia, bukanlah sistem yang sudah given (predetermined), tetapi memiliki kapasitas
bawaan untuk selalu berubah sesuai dengan pengalaman dan interaksi dengan lingkungan
psikologis dan sosial.
Keadaan seperti tidur, bangun, sadar, tidak sadar, merupakan hasil dari interaksi dinamis khusus
yang terjadi pada titik dimana fungsi otak, sistem memori, informasi terkiat dnegan konteks
bertemu. Pengalaman kesadaran merupakan proses dinamik bukan suatu benda dalam dirinya.
Tantangan penelitian neurosains adalah menjembatani gap antara ilmu alam dengan humaniora.
Penelitian Edelman menunjukkan bahwa studi tentang kesadaran dewasan ini telah merupakan
irisan antara ilmu neurobiologi, humaniora dan ilmu sosial.
Hasil Penelitian Jean-Pierre Changeux
Changeux mencoba memahami tentang kesatuan, perbedaan, dan diri sebagai orang lain. Fokus
studinya adalah maslah capable person yang saya terjemahkan sebagai orang yang mengenal
betul dirinya dan pernanya dalam dunia. Beberapa hasil studinya adalah sebagai berikut:
1. perkembangan sistem saraf terjadi dalam konteks lintasan individu dan dalam interaksi dengan
konteks fisik dan sosial budaya.
2. kerumitan otak manusia, yang menyatukan pengetahuan tentang mekanisme genetika
merupakan hasil interaksi yang konstruktif dengan nilai-nilai keragaman etnis dan budaya
[Changeux, 2003].
3. Konsep diri atau kesadaran diri bukan sesuatu yang diperoleh langsung (immediate given).
Tapi, terbangun melalui mediasi dengan orang lain. Capable person adalah produk dari
kesleuruhan masa hidup sejak lahir sampai mati, sesuai dengan perannya dalam dunia sosial dan
Begitulah kira-kira peran pendekatan transdisciplinarity dalam upaya memahami suatu isu yang
dalam realitanya kompleks alias saling terkait dilihat dari berbagai perspektif. Dengan
pendekatan transdisciplin, kita berupaya memahami suatu hal secara utuh dan komprehensif.
UNESCO, 1998.
S. Hamid Hasan, Transdisiplinarity dalam Pendidikan dengan Referensi Khususus pada
Kurikulum, Malkalah Seminar Transdisciplinarity, UNJ, 2007.