Networks are Transdisciplinary

In higher education, many institutions are talking about breaking out of silos and moving to a transdisciplinary model. Transdisciplinary, defined by is “pertaining to or involving more than one discipline; interdisciplinary.”

Oftentimes it is difficult to move people away from their silos and have them work at the intersections of disciplines or on the fringes. This is a challenge because of proximity but also because of reward.  It can be unsafe or seem too risky to tackle a huge problem with a bold idea, especially to young adults or young researchers who are seeking promotion or tenure. The fear of failure can be a barrier.

Frans Johansson, a talented author and speaker said, “innovation happens at the intersections.” I agree but finding intersections or working in the fringes (edges of the silos) and creating safe opportunities for this innovation can be very difficult.


Innovation is essential to the future because it sets us apart in the world economy. If you read Daniel Pink‘s ‘A Whole New Mind’ he talks about design and innovation as being keys to the future. So, how do we utilize bold innovative techniques while working on the fringes to take risks. And how do we encourage people to seek transdisciplinary teams that add value to the work?

The answer might be: NETWORKS. Connecting Young Nebraskans (CYN) is transdisciplinary and allows for true innovative ideas to emerge without judgement. CYN is not governed by a corporate structure or chain of command nor are we in silos. Young leaders  step in and out and come from different geographical areas, ethnicity, social economic backgrounds and occupations. At a CYN Summit you may sit beside an economic developer, an artist, or an accountant. You may also develop a new connection with an entrepreneur or an 18 year old who wants to make his community the best in the nation to live.

CYN, by design, provides opportunities to share ideas and receive feedback. Transdisciplinary, I think so! Why does this matter? I believe that the crazy, wild ideas that are generated in safe transdisciplinary settings are the ideas that will change the world. These connections can happen anywhere but networks are uniquely positioned to allow all voices at the table and share ownership with everyone or whomever leans in. People step-in and step-out based on their passions or their life stages. It is a melting pot for new ideas from new thought leaders. Networks are ecosystems for idea generation.



One thought on “Networks are Transdisciplinary

  1. I loved the closing statement, “Networks are ecosystems for idea generation”. What a great way to sum up what networks are all about, they are ‘webs’ of people that offer so many opportunities for collaborative idea making. Networks create space for people to work together and learn from each other. Through my Rural Futures Institue Serviceship, I have added another network to my life. I have had the opportunity to meet and work with a whole new community, partner, and other interns. Working with these people has helped generate new ideas for the city of Curtis and many other cities across Nebraska by working together, networking, and using fresh ideas from each other.


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