Trouble with Interdiscplinary

Seminar connecting Doctoral and MA students from various disciplines

Are you interested in wicked problems? Do you agree that to address problems like climate change, loss of biodiversity, global health and pollution, you have to find ways to collaborate across traditional categories of science and art?

If you answer yes, this course will interest you.

Running a joint course with doctoral students from all schools of science at Aalto University and the school of Art (BIZ, SCI, CHEM, ELEC, and ART: business, natural sciences, art, architecture and design), and master degree students from Aalto ARTS, Iceland University, and artists, community organizers, and activists on Greenland, we aim at deepened understanding of how to open and develop discussion between natural scientists and artists in order to further interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary research and working methods. We seek ways to discuss wicked problems constructively and inclusively, so that we might begin to illuminate these problems from a multitude of aspects and experiences – precisely as these are indeed multifaceted problems involving several levels and parts of reality and life. Art – itself a multifaceted practice and way of thinking that explores and questions life’s various ontologies and purposes – can bring forth and concretize experiences related to a problem, that otherwise might be overlooked, and yet, are decisive parts of reality.

Artists are essential in shifting our focus from solving singular and isolated problems to mapping out a multifaceted field of inquiry, one that might better address the nature of our current global crisis.  This is why artists must be included in the discussion in the get-go and continue to feature in all the processes of research and addressing of problems.

How to start collaborating?

During this course, we share our expertise and our thinking processes by presentations to each other. We look at texts and other materials that discuss various working methods and ways of seeing or perceiving throughout history of science and philosophy. We seek a common language with which to set in action our imaginations, senses, and intellects, to finally commonly envision and take such actions in the world, that address issues brought forth in the Radical Relevances conference (for more information see website: and especially those pertaining to the Arctic region, pollution, health-beyond-human, synthetic biology, biodiversity, ethics, sustainability, global water and air, human and non-human life.

The course facilitates contributions to the Radical Relevances Conference at Aalto University, 25. – 27.4 2018, and we encourage contributions made in collaboration across scientific categories and disciplines as well as including art.

The contributions might be in the form of essays, manifestos, presentations, performances, or posters and present ideas as varied as: food- energy- or other- modes of production, design, art, healing, methods of defining a set of problems, mapping fields of inquiry, research plans, new definitions of knowledge and thinking, new ways to grasp and envision the world.

To conclude, we hope this course will generate new approaches and change the focus from reactive problem-solving to proactive world-envisioning.