Battling for Interdisciplinarity in Higher Ed

As a committed and passionate student, I have always been fascinated with subjects outside of the various majors I have studied.  I’ve said it many times before and I will continue to state: my education was interdisciplinary before I even knew what that word meant.  As a student at a university that is now headed into graduate school soon, I have come to realize it is almost impossible to succeed without having some form of Interdisciplinarity

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integrated into education.  While advocacy and funding for IDS isn’t where it should be across the US, here at PSU we are moving towards a completely different approach to higher education and hopefully, the rest of the country will follow suit soon enough.  J. W. Jacob’s article on ‘Interdisciplinary trends in higher education’ opens my eyes to how institutions across the world are trying to swim upstream against ID haters.

“Higher education disciplinary approaches often tend to focus only on a set of trees within a great forest” (Jacob, 2015, p. 2), interdisciplinary approaches are sort of slow to catch on.  Most people outside academia don’t see or fully understand the need for all education, but especially higher education to be interdisciplinary.  The basis of this thought isn’t just to make students more marketable (while it is an obvious outcome) but the influence ID work has on a student’s ability to process and think in different ways is irreplaceable.  Interdisciplinarity is real, it exists outside of academia and it is how almost all problems in this modern world are solved.

ID education, in my opinion should most definitely be the way of the future.  “One of the most obvious advantages from a student’s standpoint is the reality that multiple instructors enriches a student’s learning experience through divers

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ity exposure and multiple points of view” (Jacob, 2015, p. 3).  One cannot solve a problem on climate change without scholars from disciplines (or sub disciplines) such as meteorology, biology, environmental science and so on.  One cannot solve the problem of childhood obesity without scholars from disciplines (or sub disciplines) such as pediatrics, nutrition, and exercise physiology.  While it is necessary to have experts in certain fields, if those experts cannot accept the ideas of other or work in a group of other

scholars from other disciplines, what is really the point of knowing so much about one specific thing?  Higher education is making a shift towards a more technologically advanced demographic: shouldn’t it be shifting towards a more student based curricula as well?

As a former athlete and coach everything I do and see and am involved can be related to sports: specifically, the part of sports which requires a team to work together to accomplish a common goal.  On the field there are different positions that have different jobs but they are all geared towards one common ‘thing’ and that is winning.  In ID research and learning I see it as different parts of a team working together to gather knowledge from every point of view possible to unite and formulate the best possible answer or

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project or whatever the goal is.

“The silo syndrome that permeates so many HEI’s (higher education institution) worldwide at the very least discourages ID practices and at the most eliminates them all together (Jacob, 2015, p. 2)”.  Seeing a quote like this in a scholarly article is not only disheartening but it pretty much offends me.  There is proof, real scientific proof that an interdisciplinary approach to education does nothing but benefits the students.  So why, in 2017, where everything is ‘inclusive,’ are students still fighting against conforming to the traditional rigid ‘major curriculums’ when the benefits of ID education could skyrocket them to the forefront of their fields of study?  The world may never know.

Work Cited

Jacob, W. J. (2015). Interdisciplinary trends in higher education.

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4 Replies to “Battling for Interdisciplinarity in Higher Ed”

  1. I like this choice since it gets right to the heart of where we are right now: everyone thinks Interdisciplinary Studies and interdisciplinary approaches are beneficial and are the future of Higher Ed, but so few schools are willing to resource programs or support real changes to curriculum or institutional structures. A great job highlighting the tensions in the moment right now!

  2. Really well written post! I like how you combined the knowledge from your scholarly article with your previous experience as a coach, athlete and student.

  3. This post was really great. Not only did it touch upon why Interdisciplinary studies in higher education is so important but it applied ID to real world problems. One thing I like that you mentioned is the problem of climate change, since my field of study is “atmospheric and environmental sciences” I have put a lot of heart into trying to solve this problem through research.

  4. This article is well written and passionate. I like that you relate your own experiences to your article. Excellent use of sports analogies!

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