The Complexities of Interdisciplinarity: Integrating Two Different Perspectives on Interdisciplinary Research and Education


  • Angus McMurtry University of Ottawa



The aim of this article is to open a conversation between the complexity & education community and the field of interdisciplinarity (as well as its close relative, interprofessionalism). It starts by describing two very different streams of thought in the literature on interdisciplinary research and education: One that focuses on the socio-cultural dynamics among disciplinary ‘knowers’ and one that emphasizes the complexity of the phenomena studied by these disciplinary knowers. Next, the author argues that recent epistemological thinking associated with the complexity & education community can help to integrate these streams of thought—offering a way for interdisciplinary inquiry to respect both the complexity of knowers and the complexity of the known.

Author Biography

Angus McMurtry, University of Ottawa

Angus McMurtry ( is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa. He has degrees in philosophy, law and education, as well as entrepreneurial experience in the software field. His PhD dealt with the education of interprofessional healthcare teams. Current research interests span the following topics: collective learning, occupational knowledge, interdisciplinary theory, interprofessional teamwork, collaborative action research, and complexity science. See






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