Trans-disciplinarity is central to ECDI’s ethos:
only by putting together the complementary information about cultural evolution that comes from different disciplines can we approach an integrated picture of how humans have developed diverse cultural traditions, whether in Oceania or elsewhere in the world.
Our strength as a research network comes not only from our combined expertise in many key aspects of cultural diversification – evolution, genetics, history, philosophy, archaeology, linguistics, psychology, anthropology – but also in our demonstrated capacity for working across disciplinary boundaries. Transdisciplinary research is challenging: not only do different disciplines have different goals and traditions, they also have different ways of framing, communicating and testing questions. Successful transdisciplinary work requires a long-term commitment to a research framework and community building that brings researchers with a range of disciplinary skills together and provides the opportunity to work toward common goals. But it also requires an analytical framework that allows disparate lines of evidence to be brought together. We will make use of new Bayesian frameworks that allow us to maximize our use of available information from different sources to inform a priori estimates, allowing for the variable levels of confidence we have in each historical information source. By combining different data sources, processes and narratives within the same analytical framework, we can make the most of the information and approaches that we bring individually to explore ideas about past events and processes. The integration of disciplines binds all of these activities, whether through informal collaboration or a formal analytical framework.