Press release

Rethinking Interdisciplinarity in The Hub at Wellcome Collection: New open access publication from Palgrave Macmillan

Rethinking Interdisciplinarity across the Social Sciences and Neurosciences is a landmark open access publication from Palgrave Macmillan, co-authored by Felicity Callard (Durham University) and Des Fitzgerald (Cardiff University), that addresses key questions and challenges for those working across many and varied disciplines.

Drawing on their own experiences of conducting research on a large scale across the fields of social science and neuroscience, Callard and Fitzgerald create a frank, candid account of the contemporary interdisciplinary scene. Written entirely from The Hub at Wellcome Collection, a flagship interdisciplinary research space in London, Rethinking Interdisciplinarity considers what it is like to actually carry out this kind of research at the start of the twenty-first century.

Des Fitzgerald, sociologist at Cardiff University and one of the co-authors, said: "'Interdisciplinarity' is all the rage these days – from research organisations, to think tanks, to civil society groups, everyone seems keen to break down disciplinary boundaries. Whether we are thinking about healthy cities, educational attainment, or ageing – so many contemporary issues seem to require perspectives that are not only biological, but social too.

"But what does 'interdisciplinarity' actually mean, and how does it help or hinder the research process? We are thrilled to not only be in the unique position of being able to work from The Hub at Wellcome Collection, but to be able to really explore, in this publication, what it means to carry out interdisciplinary research in the here-and-now of daily practice."

The launch of Rethinking Interdisciplinarity coincides with the first anniversary of Callard and Fitzgerald’s residency in The Hub, a dynamic working space in the heart of the Wellcome Trust’s free public venue, Wellcome Collection. Directed by Callard, both are part of international research collective, Hubbub, the first recipients of the Hub Award, who are carrying out a large-scale research project around the health impacts of busy-ness and rest.

As inaugural residents of The Hub at Wellcome Collection, Hubbub has seen over 50 collaborators from across the social and biomedical sciences, the arts and the humanities, as well as broadcasters, clinicians and public engagement professionals, coming together to explore what it means to seek and find activity, work and rest. Over the course of this first year, Hubbub collaborators have explored the phenomenon of mindwandering; taken over the entirety of Wellcome Collection for a spectacular evening Late event; customised self-tracking devices to generate new ways of mapping the movement and moods of city-based participants; and analysed the re-framing of unemployment in the context of health, rest and workfare.

Felicity Callard, Director of Hubbub and Reader in Social Science for Medical Humanities, Durham University says: "Everyone seems to be talking about interdisciplinarity, but it’s far from clear how many are actually doing it, and, if so, to what effect. Accounts of what interdisciplinary projects are like in practice are still relatively few in number, and most people are still reticent about the experiences that characterise them. This book is, in many ways, a 'report from the field' on interdisciplinary research."

The book is published in the Palgrave Pivot format, which is usually between 30-50,000 words (mid way between the traditional lengths for journal articles and monographs), and is available primarily as an ebook with print copies available on demand. Published using an open access model, made possible by the Wellcome Trust, it is available for free via a CC BY license and can be easily shared.

"This book is for anyone who has been urged to do something in an interdisciplinary way… and who has wondered, exactly, what this word 'interdisciplinary' entails. It is for anyone who has already been involved in an interdisciplinary project – who has experienced some unexpected bumps in the road, and who has been wondering how to understand those bumps, and work around them in the future. And it is for anyone, from any background, and at whatever career stage, who has some inkling that there is a perspective from another discipline that might really open one of their own projects, but who has no idea how to do something with a colleague from that discipline, and even less idea of what such a collaboration might actually look like." – Rethinking Interdisciplinarity.


'Rethinking Interdisciplinarity across the Social Sciences and Neurosciences' by Felicity Callard and Des Fitzgerald is available in PDF format, kindle edition and hardback.

About Palgrave Macmillan

Palgrave Macmillan is a global academic and business publisher for the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS). From journals, mid-length research and monographs to world-class reference, Palgrave Macmillan offers readers and authors a single source for the very best in professional learning and scholarship, reaching the maximum readership with works of the highest quality. Palgrave Macmillan is part of the newly formed Springer Nature, the world’s largest academic book publisher, publisher of the world’s highest impact journals and a pioneer in the field of open research.

About Durham University

Durham University is a world top 100 university with a global reputation and performance in research and education and is a member of the Russell Group of leading research-intensive UK universities. Research at Durham shapes local, national and international agendas, and directly informs the teaching of our students. Durham is ranked in the world’s top 100 universities for reputation (Times Higher Education World Reputation Review rankings 2015), and fifth in the UK in the 2016 Complete University Guide.

About Cardiff University

Cardiff University recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. The 2014 Research Excellence Framework ranked the University 5th in the UK for research excellence. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, University Chancellor Professor Sir Martin Evans.  Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise encompasses: the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; the College of Biomedical and Life Sciences; and the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering, along with a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Cardiff’s flagship Research Institutes are offering radical new approaches to pressing global problems.​

About Hubbub

Hubbub are an international team of scientists, humanists, artists, clinicians, public health experts, broadcasters and public engagement professionals. They are exploring the dynamics of rest, noise, tumult, activity and work, as they operate in mental health, neuroscience, the arts and the everyday. They are based in London as the first residents of The Hub at Wellcome Collection.

About The Hub at Wellcome Collection

The Hub at Wellcome Collection is a new dedicated space and resource for interdisciplinary projects exploring medicine, health and wellbeing. The Hub provides resources and a stimulating venue for researchers and other creative minds to collaborate on projects that explore medicine in historical and cultural contexts. Residencies carry an allowance of £1 million and cover two academic years, encouraging outputs that generate new insights, new forms of engagement, new methodologies and new interventions. 

About Wellcome Collection

Wellcome Collection is the free visitor destination for the incurably curious. Located at 183 Euston Road, London, it explores the connections between medicine, life and art in the past, present and future. The venue offers visitors contemporary and historic exhibitions and collections, lively public events, the world-renowned Wellcome Library, a café, shop, restaurant and conference facilities as well as publications, tours, international and digital projects. Wellcome Collection is part of the Wellcome Trust.

About the Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to improving health. We support bright minds in science, the humanities and the social sciences, as well as education, public engagement and the application of research to medicine.


Amy Bourke-Waite

Senior Communications Manager04/03/2016

Palgrave Macmillan

Phone Amy Bourke-Waite on+44 (0)20 7843 4603