ERIC Number: ED505821
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Oct
Reference Count: 0
Report of the Interdisciplinarity Task Force
Association of American Universities
Interdisciplinary research and education have long been part of the university programmatic structure. More recently, however, university interdisciplinary projects, programs, centers, and institutes have grown in number, diversity, and complexity. This growth generally reflects the need for new combinations of disciplinary knowledge and research methods to solve new and complex problems, and the educational value for students of analyzing important issues from multiple perspectives. The growth in interdisciplinary activity raises important challenges for university administrators. They must identify ways to encourage promising interdisciplinary initiatives and provide conditions under which those initiatives can flourish, while discouraging efforts unlikely to prove fruitful. Moreover, administrators need to incorporate interdisciplinary activities into the institution's programmatic structure in ways that encourage collaboration over competition and advance the mission of the university. Given the growing importance of interdisciplinary activities in universities, AAU created a task force to examine the issue of interdisciplinarity and identify actions university administrators can take to promote interdisciplinary activities that expand knowledge and understanding and enrich education. To carry out this charge, the AAU Interdisciplinarity Task Force undertook a variety of activities including Task Force meetings, a plenary session panel discussion at an AAU meeting of presidents and chancellors, and a survey of Task Force-member campuses to identify both successful and unsuccessful programs and the factors that contributed to their differential outcomes. In addition, Task Force members and other academic colleagues identified a number of interdisciplinary centers outside their own institutions that are widely regarded as successful. In-depth discussions were then held with the directors of those centers to identify factors that contributed to the success of their centers, the criteria they used to measure success, and any changes they thought would make their centers even more effective. This report draws on information collected and evaluated by the Task Force to provide what members hope will be a useful checklist of factors to consider in creating, maintaining, and modifying or terminating interdisciplinary programs or centers.
Descriptors: Research Methodology, Interdisciplinary Approach, Higher Education, Intellectual Disciplines, College Administration, Educational Policy, Program Effectiveness, Program Development, Guidelines
Association of American Universities. 1200 New York Avenue NW Suite 550, Washington, DC 20005. Tel: 202-408-7500; Fax: 202-408-8184; Web site: http://www.aau.edu
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: Association of American Universities, Washington, DC.