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Delegates sitting and talking in a lecture theatre at the 2023 Interdisciplinary Conference

Interdisciplinary Conference 2023

ARU was delighted to host the seventh Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching Conference at our Chelmsford campus on 20 April 2023.

Delegates from nine countries spanning three continents gathered in person and online to explore the conference theme: 'Interdisciplinary Experiences: Transforming Perspectives'.

Download the conference programme (PDF)

Interdisciplinary Experiences: Transforming Perspectives

The conference focussed on the opportunities afforded by interdisciplinary learning and teaching to transform the vision and frames of reference that students bring to the classroom, and asked how we can empower students to use their experiences of interdisciplinary study to make a difference.

The conference theme is close to our hearts at ARU; our education is underpinned by our mission, Transforming lives through innovative, inclusive and entrepreneurial education and research (PDF).

Our trailblazing Ruskin Modules exemplify this approach by bringing students together around societal challenges, co-creating more holistic perspectives informed by diverse backgrounds and experiences.

ARU’s Vice Chancellor Prof Roderick Watkins described the power of interdisciplinarity 'to transform perspectives of all of us, not just our students' and identified ARU’s Ruskin Modules as 'the most powerful current expression of [...] our interdisciplinary ambitions as a university'.

Ruskin Module students kicked off the conference with a moving keynote speech; Elaine Brown, Institutional Lead for Ruskin Modules and co-chair of the conference, said:

'We are immensely proud of ARU students: Hanah Ansari, Maddie Holland, Storm Tozer and Terri Vessey who shared their stories of profoundly personal transformative learning experienced during their Ruskin Modules.'

Interdisciplinary Conference 2023 delegates standing and networking over coffee

Interdisciplinary Education Network

If you're interested in interdisciplinary learning and teaching, please email [email protected] to join our Interdisciplinary Education Network.

Members discuss ideas, share experience, provide support and opportunities to collaborate for research and scholarship.

Find out more about the Interdisciplinary Education Network

Delegate feedback

'I always enjoy the ILT conferences, but this was my favourite. I thought the range and quality of papers was impressive, the rooms were excellent, and the keynote with the students was enlightening. They really were a great credit to the university, and I was sorry not to hear more from them.

'I was very impressed with the Ruskin modules. It’s great to see interdisciplinary modules recognised and valued by the institution. This was the right venue for this conference.'

'It was fantastic from start to finish, the keynotes at the beginning were particularly great!'

'I found it really helpful to hear first-hand about others' experiences in the sector and was really inspired by all you've achieved at ARU.'

'I just wanted to thank the organisers and all session speakers and workshop facilitators for a thought-provoking and stimulating conference.'

'Technical connecting was perfect. I still am overwhelmed by the warm atmosphere, exuberant constructivity, thrilling density and intensity of cooperation.'

Eighth Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching Conference

If you’d like to attend the next Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching Conference, it is being hosted by Manchester University on 21 March 2024.


For further information please contact the conference organisers:

Elaine Brown, Institutional Lead Ruskin Modules, ARU: [email protected]

Ida Kemp, Chair, Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching Conferences (UK): [email protected]

Conference themes

We are interested in how interdisciplinary learning and teaching can be transformative.

  • How is this transformation designed and reflected at both module and programme level?
  • In what ways do you create a space for interdisciplinarity and communicate any values that might be implicit in interdisciplinary study and research?
  • How do you measure the impact of interdisciplinary study in the short, medium or longer term?
  • Interdisciplinary thinking can be challenging - how do you engage your students?

We are interested in ways that you have found to create or facilitate an interdisciplinary community of learning.

  • What kinds of structures are in place in your own institution, and how have you overcome administrative, organisational or disciplinary cultural barriers?
  • How might you provide a learning space which gives students the courage to work with interdisciplinarity and its inherent uncertainties?

Presentations which include practical steps to establish or extend interdisciplinary communities are especially welcome.

Assessing interdisciplinary work is one of the most challenging aspects in interdisciplinary learning and teaching. There are not established ‘rules’ of knowledge or accepted benchmarks of success.

By its very nature, the assessment of interdisciplinary activities must be broad and inclusive, but this also means it is difficult to fit into a rubric or to ‘quantify’. In addition, members of the teaching team often bring their own notions of what is ‘correct’ based on their own epistemological backgrounds.

We are looking for ways that you have found to measure the critical engagement required for successful interdisciplinary outcomes.

Please see our Call for Papers (PDF) for more information.

The closing date for submissions was 21 December 2022.