Professor Stuart Townley

Multi-disciplinary learning

Name Professor Stuart Townley
Email S.B.Townley@exeter.ac.uk
Position Professor in Applied Mathematics
College College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences

Multi-disciplinary research and learning

Professor Stuart Townley is an Academic Lead for the Maths Group at the Penryn campus. This role involves “work[ing] between disciplines in the ESI (Environmental and Sustainability Institute)... trying to bring people together, talking about common problems and finding the common language to get into the research.”

Stuart was also the Lead Academic on The Global Energy Challenge. Students and staff focused on “the nexus between the generation of energy and consumption of energy, and the transmission of energy… We worked with a group of students across most of the disciplines on the campus for a week.” The project also involved collaboration with the Eden Project, in terms of finding out about their energy supply and demand. Students worked together from multiple disciplines, creating games intended to actively engage others with this contemporary issue. For example, one group created renewable energy Top Trump cards and another team designed a complicated risk-taking game.

“You could compare the way we did it through designing a game versus just reading academic papers about energy generation… It’s a much better way of getting to the issues quickly, especially for a broad mix of students… Ultimately these are cross-disciplinary challenges.” Grand Challenges is a really effective and dynamic way of engaging many students from across disciplines effectively with alternative perspectives. “You really do need to bring groups of students together for some intensive period, where they can give themselves to the topic. [Grand Challenges] is a great way of facilitating that sort of engagement across the disciplines.”

Aim 6: Multi-disciplinary learning for global challenges 

To provide all students with the opportunity to explore the relevance of different disciplines to contemporary challenges facing the world

Additional resources

  • The Global Energy Challenge

A multi-disciplinary approach to global challenges

"The major problems that the world faces cannot be pigeon-holed… It really needs multi-disciplinary approaches."