Welcome to the ISI Forum—an online discussion space for all matters of inter- or transdisciplinary concern. Whether it be issues relating to current or former ISI themes, meditations on the nature of interdisciplinary work, or matters of broad intellectual or artistic interest, we invite your contributions and participation. Please send us your thought-pieces, blogs, musings on urgent or abiding questions. All contributions will be moderated, as will comments from the campus community and public at large. We hope for a respectful if always stimulating and even provocative space. Write to us at, with ‘forum contribution’ or ‘forum comment’ in the subject header. Thanks! We look forward to reading and hosting you.

What is the Interdisciplinary?

‘Interdisciplinary’: it is one of those rare words in the English language to have seven syllables and a capacity for tripping up speech in the midst of a quickly spoken sentence. Do we have a strange kind of mimesis here, so that the very sound and sequence of the syllables anticipate the complexity of the concept they formulate? What is it that we do, at ISI, and what is it about the word 'interdisciplinary' that seems to define us—yet in some ways seems so indefinable?

This spring we inaugurate a new Forum section on the ISI website for blogs, musings, and thought pieces of all kinds. Read on for ISI Director Stephen Clingman's​ take on the meaning of engaging in interdisciplinary work.