Transdisciplinarity: Making the case and heeding the evidence for letting arts and science teach together with a new turn for music education

Cooke, Carolyn; Burnard, Pam; Colucci-Gray, Laura and Sinha, Pallawi (2020). Transdisciplinarity: Making the case and heeding the evidence for letting arts and science teach together with a new turn for music education. In: Australian and New Zealand Association for Research in Music Education (ANZARME) 2020 ONLINE CONFERENCE, 42nd Conference, 4 Oct 2020, Online.


THE CASE: The arts excite, illuminate and enrich our lives: deepening our understanding of who we are and how we make sense of the world. Posthuman knowledges, diverse creativities, and transdisciplinary practices such as STEAM build upon the economic drivers which characterise STEM; an alignment of the disciplinary areas that allegedly have the greatest impact on a developed country’s gross domestic product. The addition of the arts - as handmaiden to STEM - is often seen to further diminish and marginalise arts in the curriculum. In a world fractured by the COVID-19 global pandemic, precarity of employment and shifting problematics of our collective and sustainable futures, there is a pressing need to think difference positively, which means rethinking, re-viewing, deterritorialising and decolonising music institutions, curricula and pedagogy. We will theorise a posthuman view of transdisciplinarity for letting arts and science teach together.

THE EVIDENCE: We conceive of knowledge as rhizomatic. Using posthumanist theorist and quantum physicist Karen Barad’s diffractive analysis ((Barad, 2014 p. 168), we are invited to ask different sets of questions, organising laterally without hierarchies, and constantly being open to de- and re-territorialisation of notions, norms and processes that narrowly define disciplines, phenomena, and activities. These (re)configurings advance alternative ways of ‘seeing’, ‘knowing’ and ‘doing’ music education and research. We present two separate research projects whose findings show that transdisciplinarity can de-couple the specific language of a discipline from its original context, opening up new possibilities for viewing and experiencing the same phenomenon and the materiality of difference (Braidotti, 2019). We will discuss the implications for us as change agents co-creating a new posthuman transdisciplinary turn in music education to: (a) transgress and transcend disciplinary boundaries, and (b)reposition music education where arts and sciences are not separate or even separable endeavours, but rather combine as transdisciplinary configurations.

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