Stepping Out of the Ivory Tower: Practice-Led Inquiry and Postdisciplinary Research
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This article considers the nature of postdisciplinary research as it relates to certain practice-led design inquiries. From a discussion of discipline territoriality in the academy, it moves to a consideration of how historical demarcations were disrupted and reshaped by professional disciplines that entered universities in the latter part of the 20th century. Among these, areas like design, with its high levels of situated experimentation, reflection on practice and applied professional knowing, began to challenge established disciplinary conventions. Building on the proposition that certain practice-led inquiries in design are postdisciplinary in nature, the article considers three examples of recent doctoral theses. In discussing these projects, it reveals ways in which knowledge from within and beyond conventionally demarcated disciplinary fields was gathered, interpreted and creatively synthesised. In concluding, the article proposes that practice-led, postdisciplinary research may usefully contribute to the ongoing need for expansive, flexible and appreciative approaches to knowledge generation.