Incentivising Transdisciplinary Individuals and Teams: Donate to the Marjorie Duckworth Fund as a nudge


Our community of practice, or networks of villages face a number of obstacles to crossing the arts, sciences and technologies. Among these are the ways that most institutions are organised around “Disciplines” or narrow “Professions”. Ranging from physics to marketing to everything in between.

I hate to tell you but the earth’s ecology does not care what discipline you are from, or who funded you, as we all work to address climate change and the unsustaibable societies we have all built together.

Last year we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Leonardo networks of villages ( ). One of the realisations that hit home was how many members of these villages are risk takers bridging disciplines, and how their institutions do everything they can to discourage them. Yes we need disciplinary experts, amazing physicist and marketing specialists. But for many of the problems we work on we need mechanisms to bridge them. We need hybrid individuals team, all the way from amphibians, to axelotls.

We are beginning a new series of crowdfunding campaigns to raise some mulla to help provide incentives to change the way our institutions think. Mulla can be either in kind, ideas and work, or cash mulla.

Four years ago we did a kickstarter campaign and raised mulla to help transdisciplinary individuals make their work visible. We did this through the Creative Disturbance ‘intellectual dating’ service, or podcast platform. We have now awarded numerous small scholarships to students across the planet who have now published their work on . As part of this Dr Yvan Tina relaunched the Leonardo Virtual Africa Project: . 

Yes the problem is not only institutional but deeply cultural. Our ecology doesnt care if you are from Angola or Brazil or India when the rain forests are decimated. We need to work cross culturally.

As a first step in trying to design a transition in our Leonardo work ( using Terry Irwin’s Transition Design methods), we are starting small a call for donations to the new Marjorie Duckworth Fund at the University of Texas at Dallas: .

This runs today April 2 and we hope you will make a symbolic donation as the donations will be matched.

Make the donation to the Marjorie Duckworth fund. Marjorie Malina nee Duckworth among other things married Frank Malina: https: // .  

She was a university graduate in London in the 30s economics, served in the British Army, was part of the founding team of UNESCO and throughout her life contributed to finding ways of preventing WWIII.

The fund initially will be used to reward students who insist on carrying out work that crosses departmental silos ( cognitive science to art to marketing ? yes opera singers can contribute to solving problems as well as nurses).

But also our systems emphasise the recognition of individuals when most transdisciplinary problems require teams. Awards will go to teams of students who work on a common problem crossing disciplines, which often encounters hostility from university departments.

Alex Topete runs the UTD ARTSCILAB Hermes Project ( ) and he will be overseeing the use of the funds.

One of Marjorie Duckworth’s grand-daughters, Giselle Malina is leading the coordination of the crowdfunding:

Alex Topete in the ArtSciLab is now leading our HERMES project to collect data on the structures and methods of inter and transdisciplinary research labs, and translate this into ‘apprenticeship’ training on EdX -watch this space. We hope the HERMES approach will help us develop similar ‘common sense’ on how to help our colleagues both perform well and also succeed in their chosen hybrid professions that are often excluded from the silo structures of our institutions.

Beyond this first step we will create funds for students across institutional boundaries ( eg universities in the same city) and also for students across the planet using the Creative Disturbance and Virtual Africa methodology:

We will provide more details over the coming weeks and years, but more importantly we would like to connect with related initiatives and ideas that you may be leading. If you want to go  quickly alone, if you want to go far go together, as they say in Africa, to cross the sahara desert that the earth is becoming as global warming surges.

Please make a contribution  April 2 to:



About Marjorie Malina

Marjorie Duckworth Malina was born 28 April 1918 in Elslack, Yorkshire, England. The daughter of John James Duckworth and Mary Anne Bolton, she was the youngest of four; her sisters were Thyra, Annie and Mary Duckworth. She attended the University of London, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Sociology in 1939. She trained in accountancy while working in her father’s textile company, JJ Duckworth Ltd. During World War II she served in the Women’s Auxiliary Corps, reaching the rank of captain, and with the antiaircraft batteries operated by women that helped defend Britain during the war.

Shortly after the war she applied to work at UNESCO, a newly founded organization, after hearing a radio broadcast by Julian Huxley, and was hired in the personnel department in 1947. There she me Frank Malina, then Deputy Director for Science of UNESCO, and they married in 1949. Frank and Marjorie bought a house in Boulogne Billancourt, and raised two sons, Roger and Alan. The Malina home was the birthplace of the journal Leonardo and the Leonardo Network and a center of art-science debate in Paris in the 1950s and 1960s. It was also the studio where Frank Malina worked as a pioneer in the kinetic art movement. The steady flow of guests and visitors included astronautical pioneers, artists and scholars including Jacob Bronowski, Frank Popper, Academician Sedov, Roy Ascott and Leonardo editorial board members. Numerous friends and colleagues enjoyed the hospitality of Marjorie Duckworth Malina. She worked tirelessly for the success of the Leonardo project and was an ardent defender of the ideals of international collaboration. Marjorie passed away in March 2006.

In honor of Marjorie Duckworth Malina, Leonardo has begun the Marjorie Duckworth Malina Fund in support of the Leonardo special project on Smart Textiles and New Textiles Technology.

Leave a Reply