In recent years, parallel developments in disciplines as disparate as Ecology, Geomorphology, Neuroscience, Social Science and Systems Biology have focused on what is termed connectivity. In its simplest form, connectivity is a description of the level of connectedness within a system, and can be quantified in terms of structural connectivity (SC) which describes how elements within a system are physically or spatially connected, and functional connectivity (FC) which describes how the strength/presence of these connections varies over space and time.
In all of these disciplines, connectivity has been a transformative concept in understanding and describing what are considered to be complex systems, allowing unprecedented analysis of how such systems behave. Connectivity research is more than a way of grouping elements in a system together based on their SC, but is driven by the notion that a structural network will systematically shape the dynamical processes (and hence the function) within this system. As a consequence, relationships between structural and functional connectivities need to be evaluated and studied on all topological scales. Whilst conceptualisations and approaches to quantify connectivity have evolved largely within their disciplinary boundaries, similarities in the concept and its application among disciplines are also evident.
i-CONN will exploit synergies among different conceptualisations and applications of connectivity. For example, we will evaluate statistical approaches and mathematical theories that have arisen across a range of disciplines in order that we might develop generic connectivity tools to understand better the characteristics of complex systems. i-CONN will provide interdisciplinary training integrating knowledge and methods from different disciplines and stakeholders from the public, private and NGO sectors, using a synthesis of approaches that will lead to transdisciplinarity, whereby a unity of intellectual frameworks will be created beyond the disciplinary perspectives.
i-CONN brings together leading academic and non-academic partners across Europe from those disciplines that have led advances in Connectivity Science with the goal of training a new generation of experts in the application of connectivity concepts to advance both research and practical understanding to address this need. i-CONN will train ESRs to become experts with a unique skill set that includes interdisciplinary scientific techniques and applications of Connectivity Science, to address real-world challenges through a bespoke series of specialized training courses and secondments.