What is Interdisciplinary Research?

CIR:CLE, which stands for The Centre for Interdisciplinary Research: Community Learning and Engagement, is based on the concept of interdisciplinary research.

But what exactly does that mean?

Interdisciplinary research is directly tied to Heuristic research. Heuristic research involves the “search for the discovery of meaning and essence in significant human experience. It requires a subjective process of reflecting, exploring, sifting, and elucidating the nature of the phenomenon under investigation” (Douglass and Moustakas 40). Heuristic research projects examine the inner lives and transformations of research participants (who are also co-researchers) as well as the inner life and transformations of the lead researchers. These experiences are documented through various means: interviews, video narratives, creative projects, community events, digital documents, and so on. It's important to note that heuristic methods move beyond models of objective researcher and of subject and object. The heuristic perspective is one in which all participants are co-researchers, all phenomena are perceived in reciprocal relationship with the researchers (I influence what I study; what I study influences me), and all approaches seek integration and meaning. In this sense, heuristic research is a methodology in which all things are connected.

In the work of Douglass and Moustakas, the heuristic methodology is described as a means to “obtain qualitative depictions that are at the heart and depths of a person's experience—depictions of situations, events, conversations, relationships, feelings, thoughts, values, and beliefs. A heuristic quest enables the investigator to collect…the raw material of knowledge and experience from the empirical world.” Heuristic research focuses on direct first-person accounts of “individuals who have directly encountered the phenomenon in experience…Whereas phenomenology encourages a kind of detachment from the phenomena being investigated, heuristics emphasizes connectedness and relationship.”