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ERIC Number: EJ983940
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0190-2946
The World through an Interdisciplinary Lens
Poulos, Helen; Bannon, Bryan; Isard, Jeremy; Stonebraker, Phoebe; Royer, Dana; Yohe, Gary; Chernoff, Barry
Academe, v98 n5 p41-43 Sep-Oct 2012
Scholars and teachers have long struggled to respond to the growing demand for interdisciplinary approaches to complex social issues. They come to the table with their own disciplinary perspectives (scholars more rigidly than students, perhaps), but they also recognize the limitations of investigating social issues through a single disciplinary lens. They have learned, in short, that it is not sufficient to approach the pressing issues from just one perspective. Colleges and universities across the United States have acknowledged the benefits of interdisciplinary scholarship. Higher education is shifting its emphasis from mastery and expertise in a particular discipline to dialogue, interaction, and process across disciplines. Nonetheless, many in the academy and beyond still wonder how to engage in interdisciplinary study in a productive way. Those at Wesleyan University have not yet dealt with all of the nuances of framing a dynamic interdisciplinary curriculum that must, given its roots in social concerns, evolve quickly as times change. But the authors think that their new College of the Environment and its associated think tank offer one template for supporting flexible interdisciplinary education and scholarship. The college brings students and scholars together to address any number of social issues spanning multiple disciplines, building on existing university departments. A linked major lies at its core: every student majoring in environmental studies must merge this interest with a primary major from another, perhaps more traditional, department. Students explore the depths of particular fields through their primary departments, but they also explore the boundaries of their disciplines through their interdisciplinary experiences in environmental studies. Put another way, the primary major provides the scholarly depth students need to understand the rigorous standards of a discipline while the linked environmental studies major provides a broader context for integrating knowledge across disciplines and developing new ways of thinking. The College of the Environment at Wesleyan was formed with the recognition that members of the academy need new ways to ask questions and pursue knowledge about environmental decision making and its consequences. The college's framework promotes interdisciplinary scholarship from the outset, but it achieves this goal without sacrificing sources of traditional strength. The authors think the college can produce graduates who are able to integrate ideas and help solve complex issues that know no disciplinary boundary.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Connecticut