SLU news

The Interdisciplinary Academy – a new opportunity for SLU researchers

Published: 11 May 2022
Red wooden house Ullbo at campus Ultuna. Photo.

During an eight-month period, researchers with different academic backgrounds will have the opportunity to jointly increase knowledge of interdisciplinary working methods SLU.

Participants within the Interdisciplinary Academy (IDA) at SLU will commit to devoting 20 percent of full-time to work together on complex issues and immerse themselves in interdisciplinary working methods. The programme will be coordinated by a director with experience in interdisciplinary work and methodology.

The aim of the initiative is to increase knowledge of and interest in interdisciplinary research among researchers at SLU, strengthen their ability to address research issues from an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary perspective and facilitate collaborations between different departments.

Linked to the initiative, an open lunch webbinar series on interdisciplinarity will be organised, with the first webbinar on 18 May.

IDA is initiated and led by SLU Future Food, one of SLU's four future platforms, all of which have the common mission to facilitate interdisciplinary collaborations and research at the university. Annsofie Wahlström is the programme manager for SLU Future Food:

– We have taken many other initiatives on interdisciplinarity before, but together with the NJ faculty we now have the opportunity to make a larger effort, which is very satisfactory. We have gathered inspiration from related initiatives, like the Pufendorf Institute at Lund University, who has very successfully succeeded in generating a creative environment for interdisciplinary thinking.

Håkan Schroeder, deputy dean at the LTV faculty and a member of SLU Future Food's steering group, welcomes the opportunity for SLU's researchers to increase their competence in interdisciplinary working methods:

– This is a fantastic opportunity for SLU as a whole that can have several positive effects for university, the different subject areas and the personal development of the participants. Collaborations across subject and organizational boundaries is necessary if we want to take advantage of SLU's entire potential to meet the major societal challenges. The Quality and Impact evaluation (KoN 2018) summed it up very nicely: SLU carries a golden egg here.

It is the journey and not the goal that matters

The call for applications to the Interdisciplinary Academy will open in mid May, and is aimed at all researchers at SLU. The academy itself will start in November 2022 and end in June 2023. During that period, nine physical meetings will be organized in Uppsala, with digital meetings in between. The house Ullbo on Campus Ultuna, a red wooden villa nestled in greenery, next to the Knowledge Garden, will work as the creative environment and gathering place for the participants within the Academy.

– We want to create an inspiring environment for the participants, says Annsofie Wahlström at SLU Future Food, who also emphasises that the Academy is aimed at researchers from all of SLU and not just for issues related to the food system.

The work in the groups can result in applications for larger projects or seed funding, but it is not demanded.

– The goal is not an application or research funding, it’s the journey we make together and the insights we get that is important, says Annsofie Wahlström at SLU Future Food. We want to give the participants an opportunity to really explore and develop their ability to work interdisciplinary, without feeling obliged to reach a pre-defined outcome. The end result should instead be an increased understanding, level of knowledge and maturity among our researchers regarding interdisciplinarity.

From strategy to action

The initiative is funded by the NJ faculty and SLU Future Food and is in line with the faculty's strategy, which states that the faculty shall strengthen the ability to address research issues from an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary perspective and facilitate collaborations between different departments through interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary initiatives.

– In order to put words into action, the NJ faculty is now investing in this Interdisciplinary Academy as a forum for researchers from all faculties at SLU to collaborate across subject boundaries on current and complex issues, says Torleif Härd, dean of the NJ faculty at SLU.



Call for applications: Cross-disciplinary Thematic Groups within SLU's Interdisciplinary Academy (IDA). Deadline for application is 24 Aug 2022.

More on interdisciplinarity, interdisciplinary projects and inspiration from SLU Future Food

Webinars for inspiration and F&Q on how to apply for the Interdisciplinary Academy (IDA)



SLU Future Food is a future platform at SLU that stimulates and develops cross-disciplinary research and collaboration for economically, ecologically and socially sustainable food systems.