Integrated Knowledge Research and Teaching (IKRaT)

Research Approach: A Brief Introduction

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia

The gravitational trend in research and teaching, in most civilizations, has often pointed towards developing independent, autonomous areas of inquiries, leading to the establishment of Specialized Science Disciplines (SSD). In specialized sciences, each discipline strives to develop its own methods and tools to process and produce information and contents. Consequently, Specialized Science Disciplines become efficient, established normative standards, and prepare the ground for the potential rigor. This trend was not boundless.

Many disciplines with focus on experimental research have always depended on other abstract disciplines to prove hypotheses, produce models, and/or grow a body of proprietary knowledge. Almost all branches of physics, for instance, depend on mathematical knowledge. The same applies to biological, engineering, and computational sciences. However, when considering the broader body of fields of studies, including the Humanities and Social Sciences Disciplines (HSSD), it becomes evident that the dominance of SSD produced a fragmented body of knowledge. Additionally, in SSD, researchers increasingly grew isolated and protective, launching narrow fields and sub-fields of inquiry into a spiral of monotonous systematization. Importantly, specialized sciences run the risk of producing knowledge with limited relevance and applicability. Good science is founded on researchers’ ability to identify and account for all factors and variables and being able to reproduce events to know the governing rules thereof. However, the physical and conceptual worlds rarely works under totally and completely controlled environments. To deal with these and other limitations of SSD, many areas of research developed Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Areas of Studies (IaMAS). The driving forces (mostly economic and administrative in nature) behind the development and design of interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary studies handicapped its achievements and limited its potential. Such forces diminished the advantages of SSD without upgrading HSSD and other disciplines.

The economic, administrative, and normative forces are still present, making it necessary for researchers and instructors to creatively develop innovative approaches to produce sound knowledge by building on the strength of SSD and the potential of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. Integrated Knowledge Research and Teaching, as a method and as a theory, draws on the most refined, tested, and established knowledge in relevant, critical disciplines and considers their applicability in or impact on other areas of inquiry and the social and natural worlds and environments. Specifically, disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences should develop a strong foundation derived from SSD as well as from disciplines from within HSSD. Integrated Knowledge Research is different from Interdisciplinary/Multidisciplinary Studies in that, it is the outcome of a discipline that is of value, not its particular method or approach. Integrated Knowledge Research and Teaching builds on facts not on theory.

A research project that deals with the 2011 War, which has echoes in 7th century (Islam’s formative period and civil wars) as well as the European brutal wars of the 20th century, it is imperative that it relies on an approach that is beyond the specialized study of events and ideas. This specific topic of inquiry can benefit most from IKRaT given the plurality of actors, the complexity of ideologies, the reach of acts, the depth and breadth of information, and the consequences of events. Ultimately, this is a project that is as much about the refinement of an approach as much as it is about the explanation of current and ancient events.