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Sunday 23 June 2024
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CETL Tips of the Week – Components of Transdisciplinary Education

Components of Transdisciplinary Education
Contributed by Professor Louise McWhinnie, University of Technology Sydney

Transdisciplinary education prepares students for a changing and accelerating world by addressing complex and connected problem-based challenges that often can no longer be contained within the boundaries of particular disciplines and their methodologies.
The following points illustrate just some of the components of transdisciplinary, integrated, and problem-based learning.


  • Transdisciplinary Education works across, between, and beyond the traditional disciplines of the university by navigating approaches driven by the problem space rather than a disciplinary approach.
  • It also requires the construction of methods to enable students to access practices across disciplines and form connections, encouraging the application of methods appropriate to a complex problem by identifying methods they would not normally experience in single disciplines.

Frame creation

  • Central to transdisciplinary education is the need to generate new ways of framing problems.
  • Frame creation and wide-ranging and accessible methods are central to transdisciplinarity.
  • Frame creation develops an open and focused approach that generates not only problem solving, but also problem posing.


  • Curiosity is core to students’ education and academics’ work within the transdisciplinary space. Teachers need to consider at what point in students’ previous learning experiences have curiosity and collaboration been reduced to singular achievement.


  • It is easy to think that transdisciplinary education simply requires the joining up of the disciplines. But complexity and networked challenges require connections in thinking, that teachers and students should address collectively.


  • A vital component of accelerating change and transdisciplinary education is introducing students to connectivity. This requires students to understand that innovative outcomes in one field are linked to and impact upon others.

Data, technology and ethics

  • Transdisciplinarity challenges students to ethically comprehend the sheer scale of technological capabilities and our social responsibility in the social aspects of accelerated advances.


  • Risk requires that students are encouraged and rewarded to learn from, and not be afraid of potential failure, instead seeing it as a necessary by-product of curiosity and exploration.


  • Emeritus Professor Louise McWhinnie. Summary notes for ‘Transdisciplinary Experiential Learning… not just Student Learning’
  • Experiential Learning Seminar Series. Centre for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning, The University of Hong Kong. https://talic.hku.hk/elseminar22/