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Empirical Research

Published online June 3, 2021

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Transdisciplinary training: what does it take to address todayâ

Euson Yeung1,Leslie Carlin1,Samantha Sandassie1,Susan Jaglal1

Department of Physical Therapy, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

Correspondence to:Euson Yeung

Received: June 11, 2020; Accepted: May 21, 2021

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There is a growing need to address today’s “wicked problems” seen in issues such as social justice, global climate crisis and endemic health concerns. Wicked problems are those for which there is no single, clear or optimal solution and thus are amenable to transdisciplinary solutions. Working in a transdisciplinary paradigm is thus seen as an increasingly necessary learned skill, and yet there is a dearth of knowledge on how curriculum centred around transdisciplinarity is perceived by those impacted by such curricula. This study examines the attitudes and responses of Aging Gracefully across Environments using Technology to Support Wellness, Engagement and Long Life NCE Inc.’s (AGE-WELL) stakeholders to the concept and role of transdisciplinarity in a training program intended to equip trainees and research staff from a variety of fields to address the “wicked problem” of aging well in Canada. We conducted 15 in-depth interviews with current AGE-WELL members, trainees as well as researchers and mentors, on the subject of designing the best possible training program. Our data illustrate the complexity of curriculum design and implementation to train for transdisciplinarity. We consider ways in which a shift in culture or ethos in academia may be required to pursue a thoroughly transdisciplinary approach to problem-solving. Short of instituting such a radical culture change as transdisciplinarity, however, strategic and conscientious efforts to integrate multiple and diverse perspectives, to attend carefully to communication and to foreground relationship building may well achieve some of the same goals.

Keywords: Transdisciplinary, Education, Training, Competencies

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