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How Many Brains Does It Take to Build a New Light: Knowledge Management Challenges of a Transdisciplinary Project


Christina Hinton. Harvard Graduate School of Education, 1643 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02138; e-mail:


ABSTRACT— The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Center for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) carried out the Learning Sciences and Brain Research project (1999–2007) to investigate how neuroscience research can inform education policy and practice. This transdisciplinary project brought many challenges. Within the political community, participation in the project varied, with some countries resisting approval of the project altogether, in the beginning. In the neuroscientific community, participants struggled to represent their knowledge in a way that would be meaningful and relevant to educators. Within the educational community, response to the project varied, with many educational researchers resisting it for fear that neuroscience research might make their work obsolete. Achieving dialogue among these communities was even more challenging. One clear obstacle was that participants had difficulty recognizing tacit knowledge in their own field and making this knowledge explicit for partners in other fields. This article analyzes these challenges through a knowledge management framework.