In this penultimate chapter in this series we take a look, not just at a transdisciplinary PhD program in Romania, but at the remarkable Romanian who has encouraged and fostered so much attention to transdisciplinarity around the world: Basarab Nicolescu
Nicolescu is a Romanian physicist who has been working primarily in Paris since the late 1960s.
is a theoretical physicist at the Center National de la Recherche Scientifique, Laboratoire de Physique Nucléaire et de Hautes Énergies and at Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris.
He is a specialist in the theory of elementary particles.
books and articles have been published in numerous countries in addition to France.
Best known to some is his
Manifesto of Transdisciplinarity, published by SUNY Press
in the United States (2002).
was appointed as Professor Extraordinary at Stellenbosch University
, South Africa for the period 1 January 2011 to 31 December 2013.
He was also elected as Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS) Fellow for the period March 6, 2011 - April 6, 2011.
As an aside, Stellenbosch
launched its PhD program in transdisciplinarity and sustainability studies in 2008.
Nicolescu is the president and founder of the International Center for Transdisciplinary Research and Studies (CIRET) of which each of the authors of this series are members.
In addition to fostering the Transdisciplinary
doctoral program in sustainability at Stellenbosch University
, South Africa, he
held faculty positions and recently spent several weeks teaching there.
also is the co-founder with René Berger of the Study Group on Transdisciplinarity at UNESCO (1992).
has presented at conferences around the world.
Nicolescu's approach to transdisciplinarity seeks a reconciliation between science and the humanities (to be discussed shortly)In 2006 he was named Professor at the Faculty of European Studies, University Babes-Bolyai, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, where he coordinates a PhD program in philosophy with a transdisciplinarity option.
Included in the transdisciplinarity PhD program option is a year-long course that brings together opportunities to study with professors from many disciplines; this course is led by Nicolescu
In addition, learners take courses in various disciplines.
After they complete their examinations, they are required to do two projects that are transdisciplinary in nature.
explained that the design of this doctoral program mirrors the requirements of the Bologna Process.
indicated in our conversation that the scope of the program is broad because of the many departments whose professors are accessed by students and because of the many students who participate in the course from other departments.
is situated within philosophy for this program, along with about ten other professors.
This diffusion has been made possible, at least in part, by the status and standing of Basarab Nicolescu
international standing and leadership of the international dialogue around transdisciplinarity has resulted in attracting students from many countries.
leads the orientation to transdisciplinarity that presumes it is a methodology in its own right, with three pillars or axioms: (a) knowledge as complex and emergent (epistemology); (b) the Logic of the Included Middle, and (c) multiple Levels of Reality mediated by the Hidden Third (ontology).
approach is grounded in quantum physics, chaos theory and living systems theory, amongst other challengers to the old sciences.
feels strongly that there needs to be a deep respect for the different approaches to transdisciplinarity.
Proponents of different approaches must step back and analyze them to see if aspects are compatible and if anything can be learned from differences.
As well, Nicolescu
believes that higher education (universities) eventually will disappear if they stay as they are now, factories of specialized knowledge.
appreciates that everything is interconnected, and if strategic points of leadership can be leveraged, change can occur.
believes this is how the Romanian TD program became so successful.
uses the term "mentalities" to refer to politics and asserts that in many institutions of higher education, mentalities are the problem.
Leaders need to be convinced that the current approaches to higher education are inefficient and not conducive to a healthy society or world.
explained that the liberation of Romania, mentioned at the beginning, created a space for thinking about social transformation in Romania and that TD was seen as a way forward.
The aim of the transdisciplinary PhD at Universitatea Babe?-Bolyai is to open the university to society.
The current program strove to help the university leaders better connect with the idea of transdisciplinarity (respecting natural resistance to change) and to help them become aware of the possibilities.
believes that architects of transdisciplinary higher education programs have to create and nurture a social climate for TD, whereby by people search for values at the intersection of science, spirituality and society.