Interdisciplinary Learning: Creative Thinking for a Complex World


Interdisciplinary learning (IDL) helps people to solve problems and tackle challenges that are beyond the scope of any single subject. It is an indispensable part of education for life in the 21st Century.

The main issues and challenges of the present day are interdisciplinary. Examples are everywhere, from climate change and pandemics to business and industry to public services to governance and policy (including Scottish education). Thinking about complex issues involves drawing together knowledge, understanding and skills from different disciplines; this requires collaboration among teams of people from different backgrounds.

On 30 January 2019, the RSE will host an educational conference on this vital theme. The conference will bring together thinkers, policy makers, teachers, lecturers and employers. Conference outputs will include abstracts, reports of discussions, video interviews and ideas about how to develop IDL across our education system.

Speakers will examine the capacity of IDL to inspire and motivate. They will explore how it gives rise to creativity, innovation and advanced skills and why it is valued in the workplace. Workshops and poster sessions will stimulate discussion of how to develop IDL in schools, colleges and universities. There will be opportunities to share experiences and learn of existing good practice in Scotland and beyond.

The programme will combine insights from leading international figures and practical wisdom and experience from nearer home. Contributors include: John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills;  Gayle Gorman, Chief Executive, Education Scotland; Andy Hargreaves, international educationalist; Professor Mark Priestley, University of Stirling; Dr Janet Brown, Chief Executive, SQA; Professor Ian Goldin, Professor of Globalisation and Development, University of Oxford; Derek Brown, Joint Interim Executive Director for Education and Families, North Lanarkshire Council; and Audrey Cumberford, Principal, Edinburgh College.

View full list of speakers and topics in programme below.