Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: May 31, 2021, 7:43 a.m. Humanist 35.56 - interdisciplinary

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 56.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
                      Hosted by DH-Cologne
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        Date: 2021-05-30 15:04:50+00:00
        From: Henry Schaffer <>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 35.45: interdisciplinary

Years ago I had stopped worrying whether my research field was in a
discipline, was interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary or some other
variation. My work was in genetics, a field broadly considered important.
It had subdivisions which were clearly seen by geneticists (biochemical and
quantitative) but that division was ignored in simple use of the term

My campus had a Genetics Department. Did that make genetics a discipline?
However many of the departmental faculty actually had their appointments
and departmental homes in other university departments, such as Statistics,
Crop Science, Entomology, Animal Science, Biochemistry and more - and may
have added up to a majority of the Genetics Department. Did that make
genetics interdisciplinary, or maybe transdisciplinary? More importantly,
should I have spent sleepless nights worrying about that?

But now my Genetics Department was mostly incorporated into a new (rather
large) Department of Biological Sciences along with faculty from a number
of other biological departments. What does that do to the discussion of
whether Genetics is a discipline? It raises the question of whether Biology
is a discipline - maybe not since it's in the College of Sciences. Could
Science be *the* discipline? Whoops - it's College of Science*s* - plural.
So are the sciences each disciplines?

Should we care?


On Thu, May 27, 2021 at 1:28 AM Humanist <> wrote:

>                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 45.
>         Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
>                                 Hosted by DH-Cologne
>                 Submit to:
>         Date: 2021-05-26 12:59:43+00:00
>         From: Dr. Herbert Wender <>
>         Subject: Re: [Humanist] 35.43: interdisciplinary
> Dear Dino,
> Relatively nearby from my home office there is such a thing: "The Trier
> Center
> for Digital Humanities| Kompetenzzentrum is a central scientific research
> institution ofTrier University."
> If I see it right, it was founded as a service center and has evolved to
> the
> actual "research institute", possibly despite the cited self-descriptioon
> a so-
> called 'An-Institut', i.e. an Institute *at *, not *of* the universitiy. An
> earlier name of this instituion was "Kompetenzzentrum für elektronische
> Erschließungs- und Publikationsverfahren in den Geisteswissenschaften",
> but in
> English versions it was already named "Trier Center for Digital
> Humanities". If
> I understand you correctly such an Institute stands for "a discipline in
> its
> own right".
> It seems that I was, as others with respect to 'interdisciplinary',
> mislead in
> my interpretation of the term 'discipline', misleaded apparently by the
> translation in the ToC of "Glottodidactica": "Basic and Referential
> Disciplines
> / Grundlagen- und Referenzwissenschaften".
> To understand well your proposition of 'Institute for Humanities Computing'
> (withour apostrophe after 'Humanitites'?): can I translate it into German
> '...elektronische Datenverarbeitung in den Geisteswissenschaften'?
> And obviously we have also different notions of 'transdisciplinary'. But I
> leave
> this for another time; only to sharpen my own understanding: Statistics,
> for me,
> is 'a  discipline in its own right', with mathematics as at least a
> 'reference
> discipline' (Referenzwissenschaft) if not a 'basic discipline'
> (Grundlagenwissenschaft). Statistical methods are in transdisciplinary
> use, f.e.
> in econometrics: "Econometrics is the application of statistical methods to
> economic data in order to give empirical content to economic relationships"
> (Wikipedia). Please correct me, if this is a misuse of 'transdisciplinary'.
> Kind regards, Herbert

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