Interdisciplinearity LO22728

Steve Eskow (
Wed, 22 Sep 1999 14:58:10 -0600

Replying to LO22696 --

Tom, help me understand further the connection between the problem and the

1) Promotion and Tenure- I am not proposing that faculty not be
disciplinary- that is the rationale behind a Ph.D., a person with strong
thinking and creative skills in a discipline as a Philosophy. I would
argue that many of the Ph.D's are not awarded on philosophical merit, but
rather on expediency (advanced skills certification) and pragmatics.
Looking at the published literature, most is incrementalism rather than
creative leaps of intellectual thought. The Ph.D. has become diluted- a
real problem as to how to reward true differentiated scholarship rather
than a proceedural effort of knowledge acquisition. And this idea filters
down- a first problem regarding interdisciplinarity, scholarship and all
that The Academy deems worthy in principle. >>

Let's say that all you say is true.

Let's say the Ph. d. in Pysics now gets promoted for works that show
"creative leaps of intellectual thought."

The specialized, noninterdisciplinary physicist gets promoted dspite his
lack of creativity.

Are you saying that if his Ph. d. program had included more work in other
disciplines he would be more likely to produce genuinely creative work?
(My hunch is that it his degree had included less physics and more
literature it would influence his creativity at all, or perhaps lower it
still further, since he would be less well equipped to do frontier work in

Are you talking about requiring or encouraging the Ph.d. physics to do
interdisciplinary research and collaboration after receiving his degree
and faculty appointment, because you believe that working with social
scientists and literary scholars would make him more creative?

I truly can't follow the logic of the possibilities you see so clearly.

Again: I see the problems. You think our faculty Ph. d's are doing second
rate work, and that somehow "interdisciplining" those second raters would
make a difference. I can't make that connection, get from the A of the
solitary physicist to the interdisciplinary burst of creativity.



Steve Eskow <>

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