Welcome to the Transdisciplinary Studies program at Claremont Graduate University.
Real world problems involve many actors, are often ill-defined, and are unique to each context. In order for universities to best connected to the problems/situations of the real-world, departmental and disciplinary boundaries need to be blended, transcended, and re-imagined.
Transdisciplinary approaches emphasize community, common ground, and conjunction. In order for universities to collaborate with scholars from different fields and outside stakeholders, transdisciplinarity is the framework guiding this role.
Disciplinary and department boundary crossing can take on many different forms including multi-, inter-, and trans-, all of which are support by the TNDY program at CGU. With the creative potential of cross-disciplinary research increasing as one moves from multidisciplinary to transdisciplinary, differentiating between multi-disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary collaboration:
- Multidisciplinary: process in which researchers in different disciplines work independently or sequentially, each from his or her own discipline-specific perspective, to address a common problem.
- Interdisciplinary: process in which researchers work jointly, but from each of their respective disciplinary perspectives, to address a common problem.
- Transdisciplinary: process by which researchers work jointly to develop and use a shared conceptual framework that draws together discipline-specific theories, concepts, and methods to address a common societal problem.
We embrace the creative potential and integration that blending, transcending, and re-imagining disciplinary/departmental boundaries, perspectives, and research can provide a university.
What We Do
Our program fosters an environment where faculty, students, and staff serve as the conduits for transdisciplinary development. We are a resource for creating facilitative spaces and supporting transdisciplinary scholarship, serving as the intellectual hub of CGU’s community. Through the Transdisciplinary Studies program, we provide a platform for the CGU community to transform education to meet challenges that are deeply entrenched, constantly evolving, and excitingly complex.
Transdisciplinarity at CGU is a way of seeing the world that promotes finding intellectual connections everywhere. It’s a way to get deep conversations going across the University campus as well as outside of it, taking the fruits of these collaborative efforts outside University walls and into the world.
Our world transcends disciplines because it is complex. We are complex. In CGU’s Transdisciplinary Studies program, we embrace this complexity. You’re joining a community of curious collaborators committed to enriching society and human life through transdisciplinary innovation. We look forward to working with you.
To build an adaptive, creative and transcendent CGU community that will transform and continually innovate graduate education.
The Transdisciplinary Studies Program blends, transcends, and re-imagines disciplinary boundaries to support CGU’s community by:
- offering innovative, collaborative transdisciplinary courses designed around real-world problems each semester,
- administering, developing, and advising interfield and dual degree pathways,
- providing dissertation fellowships and other awards to promote disciplinary boundary-crossing work,
- partnering with institutional offices to provide academic professional development,
- offering co-curricular, boundary-crossing programs and resources, and
- developing cutting-edge academic programs.
The Transdisciplinary Studies Program values:
- being community-minded;
- leading responsibly;
- supporting self-reflection;
- embracing complexity;
- practicing adaptive thinking;
- imagining creative solutions and their consequences;
- fostering collaboration that blends, transcends, and re-imagines disciplines;
- promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion.
To foster and create the pathways and tools that allow faculty and students the ability to boundary cross by embracing the complexity that a diverse disciplinary community offers.
Andrew (Andy) Vosko
Associate Provost and Director of Transdisciplinary Studies
My academic training and career have always bridged fields, and I am passionate about bridge-building across academic lines. As an undergraduate student, I studied Japanese classical literature alongside the biological nature of addiction; as a graduate student, I applied oscillation theory to the study of neural circuits for my dissertation; and as a medical science educator, I taught neuroanatomy through the lenses of philosophy and art. At CGU, I am excited to facilitate opportunities, tools and spaces for boundary-crossing and collaboration, serving as associate provost and director of the Transdisciplinary Studies program.
I came to transdisciplinary studies by way of “inter-professionalism”—a way of applying and integrating knowledge from diverse healthcare practitioners for improved, patient-centered care. As a basic scientist in medical education, I saw that integrating different knowledge domains, including across cognitive, situated, and embodied knowledges, was necessary for interprofessional success. Transdisciplinarity provides the theoretical basis and practical foundation for this kind of integration. At CGU, transdisciplinarity is in our DNA.
I consider myself lucky to be at an elite and unique institution where transdisciplinarity is a core value. By continuing to grow in our transdisciplinary culture, I know we can also grow as an impactful, socially responsible leader in higher education. Our program is here to help our community transcend and transform itself through boundary-crossing and collaboration. It is my hope that through these processes, and through building bridges across disciplines, CGU’s scholars will expand to an even greater potential for making positive change in our world.
PhD, Neuroscience, UCLA
BS, Biopsychology, University of Michigan
Director of Transdisciplinary Curriculum and Special Projects
I have been a transdisciplinarian and an inveterate boundary-crosser pretty much all my life starting in a home, a global family, and a country – Malaysia – that reveled and struggled and grew in the interactions between religions, cultures, stories, and ways of thinking and being.
In school, I was in the Science and Mathematics stream but continued my love affair with literature, storytelling, and the arts in parallel. At the National University of Singapore, being part of the Arts and Social Science faculty (by which they mean department), allowed me to integrate Literary studies including post-colonial and feminist literature, Linguistics and Social Anthropology, Pedagogy, and Philosophy.
The pathways to much of my boundary crossing—and teaching-learning disruptions for transformation—have been semiotics, complexity, and the creative process. Sense-making, in all its embodied and shared forms, and the creative, mindful capacities to work in complex adaptive ways are integral to education, research, and world practice. This forms the core of my scholarship and practice – developing creative curriculum for literacy at all ages using the arts, mime and drama work, integrating arts-based methods into STEM subjects, and using creative, complexity facilitation in leader development. Especially doing this with creative, passionate, co-conspirators. These are my happy spaces!
At CGU, I founded and developed our unique Preparing Future Faculty program in 2013 based on transdisciplinary principles that go beyond teaching professional development to foster teacher-scholar identities and methods for transforming teaching and learning.
I continue this work as Director of Transdisciplinary Curriculum and Special Projects to expand transdisciplinary pedagogy in creating TNDY programs and initiatives – formal and informal – that realize CGU’s transdisciplinary mission to lead transformative education. As part of this process, I oversee The STEAM Journal, a transdisciplinary open-access journal to share boundary-crossing conversations and work between the sciences and the arts. My goal is to provide connective and integrative opportunities for students to enter reflexive, mind and heart opening journeys that help them become transdisciplinary thinkers and practitioners who seek positive impacts in a complex and emergent world.
PhD, Education, Claremont Graduate University
Assistant Director, Transdisciplinary Studies
Richard has worked as a video store clerk, autobody technician, lift operator, certified alpine ski instructor, and AP US, European, and World History tutor. Richard has also worked as an adjunct instructor for CGU’s School for Arts and Humanities digital humanities program. From 2013 to 2016, Richard worked as the project manager and web developer for the Power Struggles project, funded by the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation, under former CGU Research Associate Professor, Hal T. Nelson, before taking his current position as assistant director of the Transdisciplinary Studies Program.
Richard comes to transdisciplinarity by way of his disperate work history, his fascination with the expansiveness of history, and his interest in how diverse disciplinary experiences can help us, collectively, cross boundaries to solve problems and tell new stories.
MA, Environmental History, MSU-Bozeman
BA, US History, MSU-Bozeman
Rebecca Holman Williams
Transdisciplinary Studies Fellow
Rebecca is a doctoral candidate in Musicology at Claremont Graduate University. She received her B.A. in Music Theory and Composition from Loyola Marymount University and completed her M.A. in Musicology at the Bob Cole Conservatory at Cal State University Long Beach. She is passionate about pedagogy and curriculum development and is interested in how educators can reframe the arts through a transdisciplinary lens to better understand the role of education in a complex and dynamic world.
In her Masters’ thesis, Rebecca combined the fields of musicology and pedagogy by researching new and effective ways to teach music history and music appreciation to students of diverse musical backgrounds. Additionally, she studied how these pedagogical methods could be implemented within in the new Common Core curriculum. She has maintained a private piano studio since 2007 years and has taught music theory, composition, and music appreciation courses at two and four year institutions, as well as general music education at K-8 schools.
Beginning in 2018, Rebecca developed and facilitated a series of workshops on transdisciplinary mindsets and principles. These workshops explore reflexivity, complexity theory, systems thinking, pedagogical frameworks, and effective collaboration. She spoke about these workshops at the AIS Conference at the University of Amsterdam in 2019.
ABD, Musicology, Claremont Graduate University
MA, Music, CSU Long Beach