Principle #4: Transdisciplinary Mindset / by Deland Chan

[deland chan]

A VISION FOR THE HUMAN CITY #4: Transdisciplinary Mindset | Work across disciplines, speak multiple languages

No discipline knows more than all disciplines.
— Francois Taddai
Architects and engineering of smart cities will need to draw on both informatics and urbanism simultaneously… To be effective at getting their designs built, they will need to deeply understand smart systems and their risks and benefits, and be able to explain it all to non-expert stakeholders.
— Anthony Townsend

Cities are complex entities that require more than one approach and method. Those who are most equipped to address these challenges will draw from the best methods and expertise that is available to them, irrespective of the contours that traditionally define and constrain disciplines.

Collaboration, active listening, and trust are necessary to achieve the transdisciplinary mindset. Embrace team teaching and team learning. One person cannot possibly hold the keys to all possible knowledge about the human experience. As an individual, we have a limited scope of knowing, given our particular experiences and biases.

It is also necessary to start by speaking a common language that is informed by values: What do you believe a city should be? Who should the city serve? All members of the team should have the same understanding of the issues background of the issues and basic foundation that will enable everyone to work together. From there, the methods of how one could achieve such an outcome becomes clearer. As a team, you have the ability to combine multiple languages of disciplines and to work across methods, borrowing from the best of each field that proves relevant for the task at hand.

There can never be enough leadership to go around. When building the human city, leadership is not concentrated in the hands of one person; when the first leader gets tired, there should be enough leadership around for someone else to take the reins and lead. A team is dysfunctional if one person has all the knowledge and the power; ultimately it is not sustainable for either the person or the group.