Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Call for Participants: Dictionary of Critical Terms for Cross-disciplinarity

Be part of the process of creating a dictionary - either as a member of the steering group, a participant in the workshops or a potential contributor

Close-up of a page from a dictionary
The IAS plans to compile a dictionary of key terms to aid translation across disciplines and to avoid the miscommunication that so often stymies cross-disciplinary work, especially between STEM and SHAPE. Terms such as evidence, growth, resilience – to take just a few examples – are used in many fields of study but can have very different histories, meanings and resonances. Our idea is to take a carefully made selection of such terms (10-15) and to invite short contributions on each one from scholars in various fields, as most appropriate to the term, to create entries of c. 8,000-10,000 words on each selected term. The aim is to be exploratory and illustrative, not in any sense comprehensive (closer in scope to Raymond Williams’s short Keywords than to Princeton UP’s Dictionary of Untranslatables). 

We plan to establish a small steering group of colleagues from a variety of disciplines, to select the terms for inclusion. We would then convene a series of cross-disciplinary workshops on the terms. We will publish the Dictionary as an open-access volume, which we anticipate will become a landmark work in the field. We also hope that the conversations we have about these terms would in themselves make a valuable contribution to cross-disciplinarity at UCL. This will be one of the IAS’s contributions to the UCL Bi-Centenary, so the timing of the publication will be linked to that, but we envisage the project as one that could continue beyond 2026.

If you would like to take part in this project, either as a member of the steering group, a participant in the workshops or a potential contributor, please write to the IAS Director, Nicola Miller (Nicola.miller@ucl.ac.uk). Suggestions for terms to include are also very welcome. It would be very helpful to hear from you by Monday 13 November (just a short note expressing interest is all that’s asked for at this stage, so that we can see who to invite to a meeting).