Transdisciplinary Knowledge Ecosystems to Advance Interdependence and Agency


This paper proposes that transdisciplinary knowledge ecosystems will take a lead role in the knowledge innovation economy of the 21st century. These ecosystems will leverage interdependences of the five components of the “quintuple helix model of knowledge innovation”: academia, industry, government, civil society, and the general circumstances of democracy conditioned by culture and media. The ecosystems will be inclusive of all disciplines and diverse in perspectives and participants. They will embrace an expanded notion of expertise and advance multi-perspective reflective praxis. The paper reviews the theoretical foundations of these ecosystems and identifies the successes and challenges of early exemplars. These exemplars point to the potential of academia as being able to gain agency and flexibility as well as increased sustainability and independence, by integrating with quintuple helix ecosystems. The paper uses mixed methods to analyze the relatively slow pace of the embrace of quintuple helix ecosystems by academia. The analysis proposes that transdisciplinary experiments that span all five components of the helix may be best positioned to address some of the core challenges that are frustrating this integration. These challenges include: i) the rapid expansion of adaptive teaching in order to address standardized and emergent knowledge, and to advance the discovery process of the learner; ii) the promotion of lifelong learning realized through diverse knowledge partnerships; iii) the seamless coexistence of deep expertise and transdisciplinary practice within individuals and groups and iv) the embrace of inclusive notions of excellence and intelligence.

Author Information
Thanassis Rikakis, Virginia Tech, United States
Aisling Kelliher, Virginia Tech, United States
Todd Nicewonger, Virginia Tech, United States
Randy Swearer, Autodesk Corporation, United States
Matthew Holt, Virginia Tech, United States

Paper Information
Conference: ECE2019
Stream: Higher education

This paper is part of the ECE2019 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon