Merger creates new Department of Sustainability, Governance, and Methods
January 21, 2018
Academic work has traditionally been performed within narrowly defined and sometimes artificial disciplinary boundaries. This approach to structuring university departments is increasingly seen as problematic, in that it can sometimes prevent academics from recognizing the important connections between related phenomena. Many of today’ greatest challenges demand interdisciplinary responses, which draw on the expertise of diverse fields in order to recognize opportunities and develop appropriate solutions.
Since its inception ten years ago, MODUL University Vienna has taken an alternative approach to structuring its academic departments in order to ensure that each is staffed by a diverse group of academics who together bring a wide range of perspectives and methodological approaches to the respective research phenomena.
The decision to merge the Department of Economics and Applied Statistics and the Department of Public Governance and Sustainable Development into a single department – the new Department of Sustainability, Governance, and Methods – is a new positive development in the promotion of productive interdisciplinary research and teaching.
The merger of the two departments corresponds to a holistic view of sustainability. The progress of societies involves considerations of resource scarcity at an aggregate level, the responses of regions through their various governance mechanisms, as well as psychological aspects such as behavior and emotions which function at the individual level. Although traditionally studied in isolation, these topics are in fact overlapping and interdependent.
The new Department of Sustainability, Governance, and Methods brings an integrated approach to sustainability which enables a contextualized investigation of the complex relationships between environmental issues and socio-economic behavioral patterns. To this end, the Department brings together a critical mass of diverse experts uniting economic, geographic, social, political and mathematical sciences in order to increase innovation potential and generate solutions which are properly tailored to complex societal problems.
It is not just thematic linkages which unite the researchers the new Department of Sustainability, Governance, and Methods, but also the strong focus of each in teaching scientific methods to students throughout the study programs offered at MODUL University Vienna. In this way, the new department has become a hub for a diversity of methodological expertise.
A further aspect to the emerging trend of interdisciplinary research is the application of methodological plurality to a given research question – the use of mixed-methods designs – whereby different types of data are combined in order to complement, explain, and validate each other. These approaches, which typically lead to richer research findings and even the development of novel methodological approaches, will be better promoted through the recent restructuring.