Interdisciplinearity LO22661

tabeles (
Tue, 14 Sep 1999 13:48:59 -0400

Replying to LO22643 --


Let me puzzle through your questions a bit and try to unpack the issues

First, there is, I believe, a difference in the education system between
teaching and research, where the research is driven by many factors in
general and promotion and tenure in particular. While it is exciting to
bring much research into the classroom, it is often driven to the lowest
class (freshman) by the needs of the faculty and not the needs of the
students and larger community. Research and innovation can even be brought
into the k-12 curriculum, but doesn't have to drive it.

So, it seems that one issue here is the dissonance between the world of
research and teaching as we see in the post secondary institutions. This
is an issue on which we could expand.

Secondly, you have a lot of backers for disciplinarity today as we see
with the struggle to include the humanities and "liberal studies" in the
curriculum not even trying to integrate the humanities into disciplinary
courses, particularly the science and engineering curriculum. The pressure
is so strong that many engineering schools have even created their own
English courses. What this specialization ha led to is another path that
could be explored

Third, we see many lay persons concerned about issues from economics to
the environment who need to be able to cross into new territories with
facility. Similarly, many professionals have reinvented themselves with
an equivalent of several degrees in fields rangng from chemistry to
economic policy implying the need for many to cross disciplines. Again we
have raised both the question of building a cross disciplinary platform
and a strong scaffolding of liberal studies.


tom abeles

Steve Eskow wrote, in part:

> I still need your help, or someone's help, in seeing how these very real
> phenomena relate to "interdisciplining" the college curriculum.
> How would you change, say, the freshmen year curriculum, now typically five
> courses a semester--English, Physics,Math, psyc or soc, and how would these
> interdisciiplinary changes minimize or eliminate the things you've written
> about that you and many others don't like?
> I can't yet see the connection between our emphasis on specialization (which
> accounts for our societal success, in my view) and interdisciplinearity. Is
> it that folks believe if you integrated phyics, sociology, and literature
> into a single interdisciplinary course those taking it would be less
> interested in specializing in any of the individual disciplines? Or less
> able to?


tabeles <>

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