Transdisciplinarity is a research approach that spans the boundaries of many disciplines in order to design a new and holistic approach to the ever-growing complexity of evolution. It transcends and includes theories and/or techniques which were originally developed by one discipline to develop new, evolutionary ones. The term transdisciplinarity was originally introduced by child psychologist Jean Piaget in 1970 with the intention to revolutionize his field and distinguish it from interdisciplinarity, which transfers methods from one discipline to another while remaining within the framework of each individual discipline. 

Knowledge is forever open

During my Ph.D. studies, I came across the transdisciplinary work of and was heavily influenced by theoretical physicist Basarab Nicolescu. His three postulates are: 

  • Reality has several levels of existence 
  • there is an included middle whose logic describes the coherence of various levels of Reality, and 
  • there is an ever-growing complexity

While observing Reality we should become aware that it has several levels and acknowledge that both the space between disciplines and beyond them is also full of information. This means that the action logic of the included middle of Reality “induces an open structure of the unity of levels of Reality…[that]…has considerable consequences for the theory of knowledge because it implies the impossibility of a self-enclosed complete theory. Knowledge is forever open.”[1]

Transdisciplinarity and Integral Investing

This is why transdisciplinarity became my research approach for developing the Integral Investing philosophy that aims to transcend and include traditional investing, philanthropy, and impact investing using Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory. And this is why transdisciplinarity continues to be the lens through which I search for the solutions we need to ensure the future of life on our beautiful blue planet.

As we are advancing toward implementing our moonshot, the Investment Turnaround, I could not imagine a better sustainability expert than Prof. Dr. Dr. Christian Berg, whom I had the pleasure to interview. 

A true transdisciplinary thinker, Christian holds academic degrees in physics, philosophy, theology and mechanical engineering. He is a sustainability professor, scholar and renowned consultant to industry and governmental organizations. More recently, he led the “Sustainable Economic Activity and Growth” task force within the Future Dialogue of Chancellor Merkel and advised the federal government on how to steer Germany toward sustainability. During our talk, Christian talks about the barriers that prevent fast progress and shares his solutions described in his new report to the Club of Rome entitled Sustainable Action: Overcoming the BarriersHe takes various perspectives from individuals to governments and supra-national organizations and singles out the fault lines of our financial and economic systems. Moreover, he offers lucid explanations on why we need a polluter pays law, why we need to expand transparency to include existing investments for large and small holders, why we need more Research and Development for integrated reporting and sustainability metrics, and much more.

Enjoy the podcast and/or videocast!