Implementing interdisciplinarity in research-intensive universities: good practices and challenges

The importance of working interdisciplinary is increasingly recognised. In 2016, LERU published a paper setting out what needs to be done to stimulate interdisciplinarity at research-intensive universities. In 2022 stock taking was done of the progress made on the implementation of these recommendations. This progress is set out in the paper, enriched with many examples from the LERU member universities.


Implementing inter- but also transdisciplinarity in education and research activities at universities is not easy, as the governance and organisational structures, academic career development and financial model are mostly based on disciplines. This is gradually changing, but challenges remain. To identify these challenges and to get a sense of the progress made, a survey was developed and circulated to the LERU member universities. On the basis of the responses received, and of additional feedback collected from various people within the LERU universities and experts of the SHAPE-ID project, the paper was developed.

The paper sketches the actual situation on the position of interdisciplinarity in the core mandate of LERU universities, on interdisciplinary education and research, on forging interdisciplinary career paths and on the issues related to governance and interdisciplinarity. LERU members have clearly made progress on the implementation of a virtuous circle between disciplinarity and interdisciplinarity, as a fundamental condition for the progression of knowledge. One of the conclusions of this report is that there is no single way to organise and facilitate inter- and transdisciplinarity.

Read the interview with the main authors.

Year of publication:
Apr 2023
Type of paper:
Advice paper
  • Didier Wernli (Université de Genève)
  • Jane Ohlmeyer (Trinity College Dublin)