Why and what do we need to know about critical inter-disciplinary thinking and its pedagogy?

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


In the current global context, we face “wicked problems” (Rittell & Webber, 1973), such as the current pandemic and rise in terrorism, which cannot be addressed without taking an interdisciplinary, and possibly transdisciplinary, approach. Higher education institutions are concurrently tending to move towards greater interdisciplinarity in their curricula, and not just in applied disciplines (Brint et al., 2009). For our students, this raises questions about the place of critical inter-/trans-disciplinary thinking in their studies. For ourselves, it raises the issues of whether we are well placed to respond to this trend and, if so, what we practitioners need to know about interdisciplinarity and its pedagogy. I aim to raise a debate about the place of preparation to teach interdisciplinary thinking in EAP teacher training. To do so, I will explore the following questions: • Why do we EAP practitioners in the widest sense (EAP lecturers, content lecturers, particularly those in EMI contexts, and those in charge of TESOL teacher education or CPD for EAP practitioners) need to be aware of the impact this trend is having on our students? • Why are EAP practitioners well-positioned to contribute to the teaching of inter-disciplinary thinking? • What do we need to know about the challenges of inter-/trans-disciplinary critical thinking and how best to teach it? Drawing on research in rhetoric, philosophy, psychology, applied linguistics and education, I aim to discuss the interface of interdisciplinary and critical thinking, outline the challenges we and our students face, and seek to initiate a debate about what we EAP practitioners can contribute to, and need to know about, interdisciplinary thinking. I will conclude by tentatively proposing that we acknowledge the importance of interdisciplinary thinking in influential documents which shape EAP practitioner education and practice e.g. BALEAP’s (2008) Competency Framework for Teachers of English for Academic Purposes. Keywords: discipline, interdisciplinarity, argument, critical thinking, Competency Framework for Teachers of English for Academic Purposes
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 10 Apr 2021
EventBALEAP Biennial Conference 2021: Exploring pedagogical approaches in EAP teaching - Online, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Apr 202110 Apr 2021


ConferenceBALEAP Biennial Conference 2021
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • interdisciplinarity
  • pedagogy
  • EAP


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