The value of pursuing trans- and inter-disciplinary research and practice is increasingly debated, with a view to creating a more sustainable world through collaboration, yet with limited success to date. Could it be time to explore a new approach to research and design, in the form of “predisciplinarity”?

As part of the program Exploring Cultures of Enlivenment, initiated in 2015 by the und.Institut, I am continuing to develop a new “predisciplinary” approach, along with biologist and philosopher Andreas Weber.

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While in social and political fields the focus usually lies on the “what” of themes and contents, predisciplinary work focuses on the “how”, which - most often unconsciously - determines all subject matter. Every “what” is fundamentally characterised by the “how”: by the underlying ways of seeing, hearing, thinking, encountering and communicating.
While in social and political fields the focus usually lies on the “what” of themes and subjects, predisciplinary research and practice looks instead at the “how”, which is common to all subject matter – often unconsciously. Every “what” is fundamentally characterised by the “how”: by the underlying means of seeing, hearing, thinking, encountering and communicating.

This approach does not seek to detract from the relevance of individual disciplines and their autonomy, nor from the approaches of inter- or transdisciplinarity. Instead, it opens up an additional realm of knowledge. This realm has in fact already existed for some time; prior to the separation of theory and practice. The Greek origin of the word “theory” – théa, meaning “to behold” - supports a notion of theory and practice as essentially one unit. Insight and knowledge emerge from a heightened sense of being that in turn enables an enlivened practice of perception.

The realm of quantum physics, since its advent, has been recognised as the primary, inventive sphere of primordial, creative aliveness. Although the early findings of this field date from almost a century ago, there are still very few research methodologies capable of fully comprehending and addressing this aliveness. Conventional, rational reasoning is ineffective in this regard. Predisciplinarity aims to gain insights into new physics through a more transparent, open and creative approach.

Working predisciplinarily begins with “de-automatising” one's state of being in the world. It is a process of gaining knowledge and insight through inner self-activation, through becoming present and bringing more awareness to one's perception, and thereby into the quality of ensuing thoughts, communication and actions.

In this way, predisciplinarity explores an expanded understanding of both science and art. It is an invitation to step out from under the spell of the dominant modes of perception that serve to paralyse and constrain our thoughts and actions. We can all search in our work and in our lives for qualities of perceiving, thinking and communicating that connect us more closely with the world and its life-giving forces. As German artist Joseph Beuys suggests: »To reshape the old form ( Gestalt), that has died or rigidified, into a living, pulsing, life-enhancing, soul-enhancing, spirit-enhancing form - this is the expanded concept of art«.



Sustainability – a utopia? On Social Sculpture as a design approach. Talk at the 2016 GWS Forum “Utopia? Incubator for new thinking and action in the working world”. Oberursel, February 25th 2016.

Then! Getting closer to the origin in order to shape change from the future. Talk at Literaturhaus Villa Augustin, Dresden, January 21st 2016.

The new Muse. Predisciplinarity on the horizon of sustainability. Talk as part of the project “Networked for Sustainability”, organised by the Goethe Institute Georgia. Tiflis, Georgia, November 10th 2015.

Predisciplinarity as a tool for social change. Talk at the Umweltbundesamt (Federal Environmental Agency), Dessau, October 28th 2015.

Mindfulness – Catalyst for social ecological transformation? Talk as part of the conference “Mindfulness and experiencing nature”, organised by the Bundesamt für Naturschutz (Federal Agency for Environmental Protection) and the Forestry Research and Testing Institute Baden-Württemberg at the International Academy for Nature Conservation, Isle of Vilm, October 13th 2015.

Working "Predisciplinarily". Aesthetics of Sustainability, organised by the Karlsruhe School of Sustainability (at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology), University of Baden-Wuerttemberg, July 16th 2015.

Working "Predisciplinarily". Towards Sources of Sustainability, lecture within the programme "Science, Sustainability and Art. Exploring Tools for Transformation", organised by the Freiburg Scientific Theatre. University of Freiburg, June 30th 2015.


Das goldene Feld. Erkundungen im Prädisziplinären
(The golden field. Exploring predisciplinarity), in: Evolve 09, Jan/March 2016, p. 54-57.

Die Bodenpflege des Humanen. Prädisziplinäres Forschen und Gestalten im Horizont von Nachhaltigkeit
(Cultivating humaneness. Predisciplinary research and design towards sustainability), in: Politische Ökologie 143 , December 2015, p. 140-143.

Prädisziplinäres Gestalten im inneren Atelier
(Working predisciplinarily in the inner studio), in: Oya magazine, Edition 32, May/June 2015, p. 34-37.