A Transdisciplinary Approach to Teaching Social Practice: Master of Social Practice at Unitec New Zealand

By Ksenija Napan.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Educational Studies

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper explores the rationale, purpose, and challenges of offering a transdisciplinary Masters of Social Practice (MSocP) at Unitec, New Zealand. It focuses on the notion of transdisciplinarity that underpins its existence, and the teaching and learning methods that this approach requires. The programme is based on a dynamic interchange between helping professions, with the aim to serve social practice clients in a way that suits the needs of the client. It allows members of a range of professions to contribute knowledge and skills, collaborate with others, and transcend disciplinary boundaries. This relates equally to teachers as well as students, as it aims to transcend disciplinary competencies to facilitate change with individuals, families and communities, and dismantle the notion of external expertise, replacing it with internal competence and collaboration. It is a responsive and dynamic programme, which explores social practice issues in the context of partnership and collaboration, and intends to manage multiple epistemologies and multiple research and practice methodologies while engaging in a world where practice rather than professions count, and where new dimensions of ethics and morality emerge. It addresses the relationship between theory, practice and research, and is explicit about its commitment to social justice. Focused on the integration of theory, practice, experience and research, it addresses the five aspects where this integration can occur: ethics, commitment, responsibility, accountability and spirituality. This paper will demonstrate how these five aspects are addressed, and explore joys and challenges of applying a heutagogical approach to teaching it.

Keywords: Master of Social Practice, Transdisciplinarity, Heutagogy, Social Justice, Co-creative Learning, Responsibility, Accountability

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Educational Studies, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp.1-7. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 306.023KB).

Dr. Ksenija Napan

Associate Professor, Faculty of Social and Health Sciences, Department of Social Practice, Unitec, Auckland, NZ, New Zealand

Ksenija, PhD, is an associate professor at Unitec, Institute of Technology in Auckland, New Zealand. Ksenija led the development of the first transdisciplinary Master of Social Practice programme in New Zealand and is passionate about bridging communication gaps between professions and creating purposeful, exciting and relevant teaching methods that cater to a range of professions, cultures, and age groups. She was a recipient of a national tertiary teaching award in 2011 and has developed two co-creative methods of teaching and learning where students, teachers and social work clients co-create learning processes while attending to prescribed learning outcomes.