Guest blog by Dean AiLing Zhang, GIIT, SISU and former Dean of ETI, Hannelore Lee-Jahnke, University of Geneva
On November 3 and 4, the International Conference on Interdisciplinarity took place at the Shanghai International Studies University (SISU). The aim of interdisciplinarity is to get away from pure specialization and open thus new pathways in training and research, creating new common grounds. This is the reason why universities tend nowadays to break down barriers between disciplines in order to open new possibilities for broader knowledge and creativity.
Language and Translation & Interpretation play a fundamental role in any of the disciplines taught at university level and can hence function as a major player in an interdisciplinary approach. Interdisciplinarity today becomes a must in education since it is based on the possibility to conceive all that links the different subjects together, as well as the aptitude to contextualize and to globalize knowledge.
Its aim is not only to open the barriers between the disciplines, but also to possibly transform what creates those barriers, i.e. the principles which structure knowledge.
Language is certainly a pivot vehicle of and for interdisciplinarity. A fact, which has been stressed within the framework of globalization. Switzerland, as a plurilingual country, is kind of a showcase in terms of language proficiency. With this background in mind, the objective of the interdisciplinary approach is to find ways and means to enhance even more these language skills, in order to make them a pivot- element in training and research, which can help to liaise with and amongst the disciplines.
The conference included fields such as international communication, economy, labor market, training, and community translation & Interpretation. The chosen approach was to foster collaboration with other top faculties and/or universities in the given fields by offering joint training and research facilities for specifically selected students and to spark interest among renowned specialists of the different fields to collaborate in research through finding national funding for PhD and research projects.
Under the leadership of Professor AiLing Zhang, Dean, GIIT, SISU and Professor Hannelore Lee-Jahnke, Co-Chair, Interdisciplinary Research Center, GIIT, SISU, former Dean of ETI, University of Geneva, the conference was a great opportunity for Swiss universities such as University of Geneva, University of Fribourg, or ZHAW to exchange with peers in Shanghai and expend their networks. In the following, there is a small selection of speakers at the conference.