Trans-disciplinarity and curriculum space in health sciences education master's programmes

Bitzer, Eli (2011)

CITATION: Bitzer, E. 2011. Trans-Disciplinary and Curriculum Space in Health Sciences Education Master's Programmes, in E. Bitzer & N. Botha (eds.). Curriculum Inquiry in South African Higher Education: Some Scholarly Affirmations and Challenges. Stellenbosch: SUN MeDIA. 183-193. doi:10.18820/9781920338671/08.

The original publication is available from AFRICAN SUN MeDIA, Stellenbosch: South Africa.

Chapters in Books

INTRODUCTION: The level of complexity of modern-day challenges demands a wider approach than discipline-specific measures can provide (Max-Neef 2005). These measures no longer suffice when they involve major environmental, human and social challenges. Also, relatively minor challenges such as emerging health issues, how to provide students with powerful learning opportunities and how to facilitate learning in particular social and institutional contexts are difficult to solve at the disciplinary level. Most of these challenges require trans-disciplinary approaches. Ironically, many higher education institutions still maintain mono-disciplinary courses and programmes and expect of students to do the transfer and integration of knowledge among disciplines or fields of study themselves. Moreover, the situation is not solved by creating teams of ‘specialists’ to address complex problems. An accumulation of visions or insights might emerge from each participating discipline, but an integrating synthesis is not achieved through the accumulation of ‘different brains’. Integration and synthesis rather seem to be more productive ‘within each of the brains’ (Max-Neef 2005:5) and thus higher education programmes need to be oriented in ways that make trans-disciplinary knowledge possible. In this chapter the concepts of ‘trans-disciplinarity’ and ‘curriculum space’ are discussed in the context of a cross-faculty coursework and research master’s programme where these concepts are seen as being represented by the possibilities and realities of curriculum integration (Nowotny 2006) as well as by the problem-solving characteristics of the curriculum in question.

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