in my view, teaching follows, and helps, research.
that is, given my theoretical bias in complex thinking,
(1) i like to focus on advanced studies rather than on undergraduate programmes,
(2) my overall subject is transdisciplinarity, and
(3) i, practically, endorse self-organised learning.
i started teaching only late, long after my postgraduate research. in vienna i taught informatik und gesellschaft in computer science (which is related to social informatics in the anglo-saxon world) and, after the implementation of the bologna process in the early years of the first decade of the new millennium, media informatics, while in salzburg i held courses at the communication department in information and communication technologies and society.
i’m strictly committed to transdisciplinarity as a research principle. by transdisciplinarity i define a concept that goes beyond the meaning of multi- and even interdisciplinarity. while multidisciplinarity would mean the unrelated coexistence of monodisciplinary accounts and interdisciplinarity the casual establishment of relations between monodisciplines without having feedback loops that have a lasting impact on their repertoire of methods and concepts, transdisciplinarity comes into play when each discipline is engaged in the collaborative undertaking of constructing a common base of methods and concepts, of which its own methods and concepts can be understood as kind of instantiations. transdisciplinarity does thereby not mean the abolishment of disciplinary knowledge but grasping for a bigger picture. the bigger picture is needed, if global challenges have to be met.
this is consequential for my teaching. a showcase for this might be the following: i have been the main supervisor of 12 dissertation projects at the doctoral programme i devised for the Salzburg ICT&S Center in order to facilitate the scientific work of early stage researchers. my main concern and biggest challenge has been how to enable the integration of students with different backgrounds ranging from communication studies, economics, political science, pedagogy, psychology, geography, computer science, and from different universities and different countries.
between 2004 and 2009 i held in Salzburg every year a basic master course in transdisciplinarity and systems thinking. the basic idea behind this course was to provide students with basics of transdisciplinarity and to level students of different disciplines up to enable them to share a common knowledge base and a common understanding necessary for approaching ICTs-and-society research. the course was offered to students of communication and computer science but was open for students of all faculties.
besides i initiated a new kind of seminar for doctoral students at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Salzburg. it is a cooperation of faculty members of philosophy, linguistics, sociology, political science, history, communication studies, and ICTs-and-society research. “Theorien- und Methodenprobleme der Kultur- und Gesellschaftswissenschaften” which might establish a new platform for discussing science-of-philosophy, methodological and social-theory issues aimed at transdisciplinary research.
in every course, i try to let the students have a say. so, e.g., in salzburg every semester the phd students were given the opportunity to make a proposal for the organisation of the research seminars and, after having reached an agreement, they carried out the organisation.