Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research

November 20, 2005

Readers interested in James Keener's ideas about interdisciplinary mathematics and its place in mathematics departments may find useful information in a recent report from the National Academies Press. Titled Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research, the report was commissioned by COSEPUP, the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy of the U.S. National Research Council.

The report strongly endorses interdisciplinary research: "Interdisciplinary research can be one of the most productive and inspiring of human pursuits--one that provides a format for conversations and connections that lead to new knowledge."

The authors distinguish between multidisciplinary research ("involves more than a single discipline in which each discipline makes a separate contribution") and interdisciplinary research ("integrates information . . . from two or more disciplines"). The findings and recommendations, a hallmark of any report from the National Academies, are directed toward several groups: industrial and national laboratories, academic researchers, academic institutions, funding organizations, and professional societies.

Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research is available from the National Academies Press in paperback or as a downloadable PDF (http://books.nap.edu/catalog/11153.html).

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