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Stakeholder Interview and Reflection Assignment
Stakeholder Interview and Reflection Assignment
In the Stakeholder Interview and Reflection Assignment, you will interview a person who has a vested interest in the research problem you are investigating. You will submit a document to the dropbox with the following information:
- A report of your stakeholder’s responses to your interview questions
- A reflection of the experience of interviewing the stakeholder
ORDER ORIGINAL, PLAGIARISM-FREE ESSAY PAPERS HERE
Part 1: Interview and Report
In Chapter 1, we learned that a stakeholder is a person who has an interest or stake in a problem relevant to society (Repko, Szostak, & Buchberger, 2017). The authors recommend that researchers look to such stakeholders for their insights and expertise. Therefore, you will identify a person who has a vested interest in the research problem you are investigating and ask them questions to help you better understand the problem. For example, if your research problem is how to reduce the incidence of Type 2 diabetes in adolescents, appropriate stakeholders would be a doctor, nurse, patient, or caregiver with experience with the disease.
Use the questions below to interview a stakeholder associated with your problem.
- What is your role related to the problem/issue of ___________ and how do you interact with the issue on a daily or weekly basis?
- How long have you been involved with this issue/problem?
- What if any was your prior experience with this problem/issue?
- Did you receive any education/training to deal with the problem/issue, etc.)?
- What have been the biggest challenges and what has been the most gratifying experience for you as you have worked with this issue/problem?
- In your opinion, what are some causes of this problem?
- In your opinion, what are some of the effects of this problem?
- How could this problem be solved?
Upon completion of the interview, please write a report of the stakeholder’s responses to your interview questions.
Part 2: Reflection
After writing up the responses to the interview questions, write a reflection of the interview experience. The reflection should share some of the insights that you discovered about the problem through the interview process and some of the additional thoughts that were inspired regarding the problem due to some of the stakeholder’s responses. Your response to each bulleted question should be approximately 100 words (a 4-5 sentence paragraph). Stakeholder Interview and Reflection Assignment
- What was something useful you learned that will help you write the paper?
- What did you learn that confirms your prior knowledge from your research?
- What information surprised you?
- How did the insights you learned from the interview help you understand your research problem better?
Part 1 and Part 2 should be included in the same document, which you will submit to the Stakeholder Interview and Reflection Dropbox.
Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies Second Edition
To my wife, children, and grandchildren
“The greatest force in the world is an idea whose time has come.”
Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies Second Edition
Allen F. Repko University of Texas at Arlington (Retired)
Rick Szostak University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
Michelle Phillips Buchberger Miami University
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Repko, Allen F. | Szostak, Rick, 1959- author. | Buchberger, Michelle Phillips, author.
Title: Introduction to interdisciplinary studies / Allen F. Repko, University of Texas at Arlington (retired), Rick Szostak, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, Michelle Phillips Buchberger, Miami University.
Description: Second edition. | Los Angeles : Sage,  | Includes bibliographical references and index.
Identifiers: LCCN 2016023303 | ISBN 9781506346892 (pbk. : alk. paper)
Subjects: LCSH: Interdisciplinary approach to knowledge. | Social sciences.
Classification: LCC Q180.55.I48 R473 2017 | DDC 300—dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2016023303
This book is printed on acid-free paper.
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Brief Contents Preface Acknowledgments About the Authors PART I: UNDERSTANDING INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDIES
1. Interdisciplinary Studies in the Real World 2. The Rise of the Modern Disciplines and Interdisciplinarity 3. Interdisciplinary Studies Defined 4. The Interdisciplinary Studies “Cognitive Toolkit” 5. Academic Disciplines 6. The “DNA” of Interdisciplinary Studies
PART II: THINKING CRITICALLY ABOUT INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDIES
7. Thinking Critically About Disciplinary Perspectives 8. Thinking Critically About Disciplinary Insights 9. Thinking Critically About Integration and Its Results
PART III: INTERDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH AND WRITING 10. An Interdisciplinary Research “Road Map” 11. Identifying Relevant Disciplines and Gathering Information About the Problem 12. Analyzing Insights and Reflecting on Process
Appendixes Glossary of Key Terms References Index
Detailed Contents Preface Acknowledgments About the Authors PART I: UNDERSTANDING INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDIES
1. Interdisciplinary Studies in the Real World ▶ Chapter 1 Objectives ▶ Chapter 1 Learning Outcomes Why Interdisciplinary Studies Matters What Is Driving Interdisciplinary Studies Today
The Complexity of Nature, Society, and Ourselves The Complexity of the Globalized Workplace The Need for Systems Thinking and Contextual Thinking The Changing Nature of University Research
Interdisciplinary Borderlands The Public World and Its Pressing Needs
Community Development Successful Intelligence and Integrative Thinking
A Knowledge Society Needs Both Disciplinarity and Interdisciplinarity The Academic Benefits of Pursuing an Interdisciplinary Studies Degree Interdisciplinary Studies and Your Career Development Critical Thinking Questions Applications and Exercises
2. The Rise of the Modern Disciplines and Interdisciplinarity ▶ Chapter 2 Objectives ▶ Chapter 2 Learning Outcomes Why the Past Matters The Rise of the Modern Disciplines
The Origin of the Concept of Disciplinarity The Professionalization of Knowledge Concerns About Overspecialization
The Rise of Interdisciplinarity The Quest for an Integrated Educational Experience Interdisciplinarity in the 1960s and 1970s Interdisciplinarity Acquires Academic Legitimacy in the 1980s and 1990s Interdisciplinary Practice in the New Millennium
Natural Science The Social Sciences The New Humanities
The Fine and Performing Arts Problems at the Human-Nature Interface The Growth of Interdisciplinarity
Interdisciplinarity’s Criticism of the Disciplines Specialization Can Blind Us to the Broader Context Specialization Tends to Produce Tunnel Vision Specialization Tends to Discount or Ignore Other Perspectives Specialization Can Hinder Creative Breakthroughs Specialization Fails to Address Complex Problems Comprehensively Specialization Imposes a Past Approach on the Present Summary of the Interdisciplinary Criticism of Disciplinary Specialization
Critical Thinking Questions Applications and Exercises
3. Interdisciplinary Studies Defined ▶ Chapter 3 Objectives ▶ Chapter 3 Learning Outcomes Why Definitions Matter Defining Interdisciplinary Studies
Widely Recognized Definitions of Interdisciplinary Studies Commonalities Shares by These Definitions
The Purpose of Interdisciplinary Studies The Process of Interdisciplinary Studies The Product of Interdisciplinary Studies
An Integrated Definition of Interdisciplinary Studies The Premise of Interdisciplinary Studies
Differences Between Disciplinarity, Multidisciplinarity, Interdisciplinarity, and Transdisciplinarity
The Fable of the Elephant House Disciplinarity Multidisciplinarity Interdisciplinarity
Two Metaphors The Difference Between Multidisciplinarity and Interdisciplinarity Summarized
Transdisciplinarity Two Conceptions of Interdisciplinarity
Critical Interdisciplinarity Instrumental Interdisciplinarity
Useful Metaphors of Interdisciplinary Studies The Metaphor of Boundary Crossing The Metaphor of Bridge Building
The Metaphor of Bilingualism Critical Thinking Questions Applications and Exercises
4. The Interdisciplinary Studies “Cognitive Toolkit” ▶ Chapter 4 Objectives ▶ Chapter 4 Learning Outcomes How She Did It Intellectual Capacities Values Traits and Skills
Ways to Apply Your Interdisciplinary “Toolkit” Writing an Intellectual Autobiography Preparing a Portfolio Performing Service Learning
Critical Thinking Questions Applications and Exercises
5. Academic Disciplines ▶ Chapter 5 Objectives ▶ Chapter 5 Learning Outcomes Disciplines and Disciplinarity Defined
Commonalities Shared by These Definitions The Purpose of Disciplines The Content of Disciplines
An Integrated Definition of Discipline and Disciplinarity The Epistemic, Social, and Organizational Dimensions of Disciplines
Disciplines as Epistemic Communities Disciplines as Social Communities Disciplines as Organizational Units A Taxonomy of Disciplines, Fields, and Professions
The Concept of Disciplinary Perspective Perspective Taking in Interdisciplinary Studies Types of Disciplinary Perspective
Disciplinary Perspective Defined What Disciplinary Perspective Is Used For Disciplinary Perspective in an Overall Sense Three Misconceptions About Disciplinary Perspective
The Defining Elements of a Discipline Phenomena Epistemology
Epistemologies of the Natural Sciences
Epistemologies of the Social Sciences Epistemologies of the Humanities
Assumptions Assumptions of the Natural Sciences Assumptions of the Social Sciences Assumptions of the Humanities
Concepts Theory Methods
The Scientific Method Induction and Deduction Quantitative and Qualitative Methods
Data Critical Thinking Questions Applications and Exercises
6. The “DNA” of Interdisciplinary Studies ▶ Chapter 6 Objectives ▶ Chapter 6 Learning Outcomes Assumptions of Interdisciplinary Studies
No. 1: The Complex Reality Beyond the University Makes Interdisciplinarity Necessary No. 2: The Disciplines Are Foundational to Interdisciplinarity No. 3: The Disciplines Are Inadequate to Address Complexity Comprehensively No. 4: Interdisciplinarity Is Able to Integrate Insights From Relevant Disciplines No. 5: The Disciplines and the Institutional Policies That Reinforce Them Often Present Major Barriers to Interdisciplinarity
Theories Supportive of Interdisciplinary Studies Complexity Theory Perspective Taking Theory Common Ground Theory Integration Theory
Theories Supportive of Integration Interdisciplinary Integration Defined
Epistemology of Interdisciplinary Studies Critical and Instrumental Modes of Interdisciplinarity Complexity
How Interdisciplinary Studies “Sees” It Sees Complexity in the Familiar It Sees Complex Problems in Context It Sees Commonality Amid Difference and Conflict
It Sees Contingency in Certainty Critical Thinking Questions Applications and Exercises
PART II: THINKING CRITICALLY ABOUT INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDIES
7. Thinking Critically About Disciplinary Perspectives ▶ Chapter 7 Objectives ▶ Chapter 7 Learning Outcomes What It Means to Think Critically About Disciplinary Perspectives Developing a Sophisticated Conception of Knowledge
Reflect on Your Present Epistemic Position Assess Your Tolerance for Multiplicity Move Toward Critical Pluralism Why Some May Find the Transition to Critical Pluralism Difficult to Make How to Move From a Position of Dualism or Relativism to One of Critical Pluralism
Why Interrogate Disciplinary Perspectives (or Practice Critical Pluralism) The Issues of Disciplinary Depth and Interdisciplinary Breadth Identifying Disciplines Relevant to the Problem Why Interdisciplinarians Interrogate Perspectives. Stakeholder Interview and Reflection Assignment
No. 1: Perspective Taking Is a Key Feature of Interdisciplinarity That Is Necessitated by Complexity No. 2: Perspective Taking Is a Prerequisite for Turning Multidisciplinary Work Into Interdisciplinary Work No. 3: Perspective Taking Enables Us to See the Relevance of Other Perspectives No. 4: Perspective Taking Illumines Our Understanding of the Problem as a Whole No. 5: Perspective Taking Reduces the Possibility of Making Poor Decisions No. 6: Perspective Taking Exposes Strengths and Limitations of Disciplines
How Interdisciplinarians Interrogate Disciplinary Perspectives 1. What Is the Discipline’s Perspective on This Particular Subject? 2. How Does Each Perspective Illumine Our Understanding of the Subject as a Whole? 3. What Are the Strengths and Limitations of Each Perspective?
Critical Thinking Scenario Critical Thinking Questions Applications and Exercises
8. Thinking Critically About Disciplinary Insights
Chapter 8 Objective ▶ Chapter 8 Learning Outcomes Critical Thinking Attitudes
Awareness of the Limitations of Expertise Self-Awareness Intellectual Courage Respect for Different Viewpoints
Categories of Statements No. 1: What Are the Author’s Conclusions? No. 2: What Are the Supporting Arguments? No. 3: What Assumptions Does the Author Make (and Are These Justified)? No. 4: What Evidence Does the Author Marshal? Other Types of Statements You Will Encounter Summary of This Discussion
Critically Analyzing Disciplinary Insights A Distinctive Approach to Critically Analyzing Disciplinary Insights How to Find What You Need in Disciplinary Insights
Clarity Depth and Breadth Logic
Examples of Applying an Interdisciplinary Approach to Critically Analyzing Disciplinary Insights
Example 1: An Analysis of Crime by an Economist Example 2: A Newspaper Article on Global Warming Example 3: An Article by a Literary Theorist on a Nineteenth- Century Latin American Novelist
Mapping Interdisciplinary Connections Returning to Example 1: An Analysis of Crime What Mapping the Scholarly Enterprise Reveals
Critical Thinking Questions Applications and Exercises
9. Thinking Critically About Integration and Its Results ▶ Chapter 9 Objectives ▶ Chapter 9 Learning Outcomes Approaches to Interdisciplinary Integration
Integrative Approach 1: Contextualization History as Integrative Context Metaphysics as Integrative Context Epistemology as Integrative Context Example of a Contextual Integration Strengths and Limitations of Approaches to Contextual
Integration Integrative Approach 2: Conceptualization
Strengths and Limitations of the Conceptual Approach to Integration
Integrative Approach 3: Problem Centering Strengths and Limitations of the Problem-Centering Approach
The Broad Model Approach to Integration Examples of How the Broad Model Integrates
Working With Assumptions Working With Concepts
“Partial” and “Full” Integration Strategies for Integration The Result of Integration
A More Comprehensive Understanding Core Premises That Underlie the Concept
Reflecting on What Was Achieved Critical Thinking Scenario Critical Thinking Questions Applications and Exercises
PART III: INTERDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH AND WRITING 10. An Interdisciplinary Research “Road Map”
▶ Chapter 10 Objectives ▶ Chapter 10 Learning Outcomes The Power and Usefulness of Research Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Approaches to Research The Broad Model of the Interdisciplinary Research Process STEP 1: Define the Problem or State the Research Question
What Is a Good Research Question? How Do You Develop a Good Research Question?
The Research Question Identifies the Focus of the Study The Research Question the Scope of the Study The Research Question Three Tendencies The Research Question the “So What?” Question The Broad Model Rubric Applied to STEP 1
STEP 2: Justify Using an Interdisciplinary Approach Commonly Used Justifications
The Problem or Research Question Is Complex Important Insights Into the Problem Are Offered by Two or More Disciplines No Single Discipline Has Been Able to Address the Problem Comprehensively The Problem Is an Unresolved Issue or Unmet Societal Need
The Broad Model Rubric Applied to STEP 2 Evaluating Practitioner and Student Justifications
Critical Thinking Questions Applications and Exercises Peer Evaluation Activity
11. Identifying Relevant Disciplines and Gathering Information About the Problem
▶ Chapter 11 Objectives ▶ Chapter 11 Learning Outcomes STEP 3: Identify Relevant Disciplines
Action No. 1: Connect the Problem as a Whole to Phenomena Typically Studied by Disciplines and Interdisciplinary Fields
Problem/Research Question No. 1: What is the cause of teen apathy toward learning? Problem/Research Question No. 2: Should natural gas replace coal as a fuel source for electricity production? Problem/Research Question No. 3: What is the meaning of the growing popularity of action super heroes in media?
Action No. 2: “Decompose” the Problem Action No. 3: Externalize the Problem Action No. 4: Reflect on the Problem “Rules of Thumb” to Help You Perform STEP 3
STEP 4: Conduct a Literature Search Remember that Different Disciplines Employ Terminology Differently
Categorize Publications According to Their Disciplinary Source Focus on Quality Rather Than Quantity Develop a Data Management System
The Broad Model Rubric Applied to STEPS 3 and 4 Examples Analysis of Examples
Critical Thinking Questions Critical Thinking Scenario Peer Evaluation and Edit Activity
12. Analyzing Insights and Reflecting on Process ▶ Chapter 12 Objectives ▶ Chapter 12 Learning Outcomes STEP 5: Critically Analyze the Disciplinary Insights Into the Problem
Strategies for Critically Analyzing Disciplinary Insights Strategy No. 1: Identify the Key Elements of Each Insight Strategy No. 2: Organize This Information Strategy No. 3: Critically Analyze This Information
The Broad Model Rubric Applied to STEP 5
STEP 6: Reflect on How an Interdisciplinary Approach Has Enlarged Your Understanding of the Problem
How Has the Project Challenged Your Bias Toward the Problem? How Has the Research Process Influenced Your Perception of Disciplinary Perspective and Expertise? How Has an Interdisciplinary Approach Enlarged Your Understanding of the Problem as a Whole? How Is an Interdisciplinary Approach Applicable Beyond the Classroom? The Broad Model Rubric Applied to STEP 6
Conclusion Critical Thinking Questions
Appendixes A. Intellectual Autobiography B. Student Portfolios and Blogging C. Service Learning, Internships, and Alternative Projects for Nontraditional Students D. The Broad Model Rubric: Instructor Version and Sample Student Outline E. Answer Key
Glossary of Key Terms References Index
The purpose of this book is to provide instructors and students in entry-level interdisciplinary courses and thematic programs with a comprehensive introduction to interdisciplinary studies. This book introduces students to the cognitive process that interdisciplinarians use to approach complex problems and eventually arrive at more comprehensive understandings of them. Put another way, students in these courses will learn to think like interdisciplinarians. By the end of an introductory course in which this book is used, students should be able to differentiate between disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches to learning and research, follow and critique interdisciplinary arguments, understand interdisciplinary process, and assess the quality of their own work. Stakeholder Interview and Reflection Assignment
Interdisciplinary courses and programs continue to proliferate in higher education, even during the current economic retrenchment. Bestcolleges.com, a website that ranks various university programs, had this to say about interdisciplinary studies in 2016:
Interest in integrative studies programs has risen as academics, organizations and students recognize the value of engaging in multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary learning. These types of degrees equip students with a wide-range of knowledge as well as the critical and analytical skills needed to be successful in the workforce.
Rather than focusing on a single discipline, students can tailor their studies to their academic interests and professional goals. The result is an integrative learning experience that leads to personal fulfillment, a greater awareness of social responsibility and a thoughtful approach to modern issues. (Bestcolleges.com, paras. 1, 2)
This growing interest in interdisciplinary studies is reflected in the development of new programs. For example, East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania established the Department of Intercultural and Interdisciplinary Studies in 2007. Franklin University created explicitly interdisciplinary core courses for its new interdisciplinary studies program in 2009. The next year, Southern Utah University announced that it was making interdisciplinarity and a first-year interdisciplinary course the centerpiece of its redefined mission as a public liberal arts and sciences institution. In 2011, Seattle University took an existing Liberal Studies program and overhauled the curriculum to become Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies. This involved adding three new required foundational courses for a total of five, which were phased in from 2011–2012. In Australia, the University of Melbourne is intensifying its undergraduate emphasis on interdisciplinary learning and research, believing that its graduates should be “knowledgeable across
disciplines” and graduate with the ability to “examine critically, synthesize and evaluate knowledge across a broad range of disciplines.” As evidence of its commitment, it has added two theme-based courses that are “explicitly interdisciplinary” (Golding, 2009, p.1). Stakeholder Interview and Reflection Assignment
The number of interdisciplinary undergraduate programs such as global studies, environmental studies, and human ecology has more than doubled over the past 3 decades —from fewer than a thousand programs in 1975 to more than 2,200 in 2000 (Brint, Turk- Bicakci, Proctor, & Murphy, 2009). More than 30,000 baccalaureate degrees in interdisciplinary-oriented programs were awarded in 2005, an increase of 70% from the previous decade (National Center for Education Statistics, 2007). Stakeholder Interview and Reflection Assignment
Entry-level courses in interdisciplinary studies and thematic programs that include interdisciplinarity as one of their foci have undergone significant changes in recent years in terms of content coverage, orientation, and teaching practice. Unlike a traditional discipline such as sociology, which has long had a recognized core of knowledge that is common to almost all introductory courses and textbooks, the field of interdisciplinary studies is just developing consensus about the principles (i.e., concepts, theories, or method) of the field. This emerging consensus is reflected, for example, in Repko and Szostak’s (2016) Interdisciplinary Research: Process and Theory (3rd ed.).
The Need for This Book Until recently, it was common practice for entry-level courses, whether in interdisciplinary studies or thematic interdisciplinary programs, to be taught by teams of disciplinarians who had no formal training in interdisciplinarity. Shrinking budgets have made this practice a luxury that few institutions can afford. Today, the responsibility for teaching an introductory course is more commonly the responsibility of a single instructor who often is more familiar with the disciplinary literature pertaining to the course or program theme than with the extensive literature on interdisciplinarity and the principles and best practices of the field. In this circumstance, the instructor is faced with the dual challenge of developing adequacy in the disciplines relevant to the course issue or theme as well as adequacy in the principles and best practices of interdisciplinarity. The single instructor approach will likely be the norm in coming years. The implication of this trend is that instructors, more now than ever, need a comprehensive textbook that introduces students to the principles of interdisciplinarity, prepares them to produce quality interdisciplinary work, and develops their ability to work with complex issues, problems, or questions that span multiple disciplines.
The authors’ experience in designing and teaching entry-level interdisciplinary courses points to the need for a core or supplemental textbook that introduces students to the basic elements of this diverse and maturing field. This book (1) identifies the “drivers” of interdisciplinary learning and research and relates these to students’ preparation for the
rapidly changing job market of the new millennium; (2) situates interdisciplinary studies as part of the history of knowledge formations and the differentiation of knowledge into disciplines; (3) offers an integrated definition of interdisciplinary studies that helps students articulate the nature, value, and characteristics of interdisciplinary studies to friends, parents, and prospective employers; (4) helps students understand what it means to be interdisciplinary in terms of the cognitive abilities, values, and traits and skills that exposure to interdisciplinary studies fosters; (5) explains the role of the disciplines in the university and how interdisciplinary studies differs from, yet builds upon, the disciplines; (6) examines the diverse forms of interdisciplinary studies in terms of their assumptions, theories, commitment to epistemological pluralism, and perspectives on reality; (7) facilitates students’ ability to think critically about real-world problems and intellectual questions that span a range of disciplines and interdisciplinary fields in the undergraduate curriculum; (8) presents models commonly used by practitioners for addressing issues that are complex; (9) introduces a rubric that enables students to assess the quality of interdisciplinary work by others as well as their own; (10) integrates discussions concerning intellectual autobiographies, student portfolios, and service learning; (11) presents material that is consistent with a constructivist and pragmatic approach to learning; and (12) prepares students for advanced interdisciplinary study. Stakeholder Interview and Reflection Assignment
The Intended Audiences The book is intended for multiple audiences. Programs that are explicitly interdisciplinary and that offer an entry-level course will find the book particularly useful as a primary text that offers a comprehensive overview of the field and develops students’ ability to begin thinking like interdisciplinarians. These courses are taught under a variety of titles such as “introduction to liberal studies,” “interdisciplinary perspectives,” and “introduction to interdisciplinary studies.” Their focus is on presenting the basic principles of interdisciplinarity, exposing students to writings by the field’s leading practitioners, and developing the ability to critically analyze the work of practitioners and students like themselves. Because this book is thoroughly grounded in the field’s extensive literature, students using it will be well prepared to pursue more advanced study. For courses that include a short paper or culminating project that demonstrates achievement of interdisciplinary learning outcomes, the book includes chapters that explain how to apply the easy-to-follow, steplike process described in the “Broad Model” of interdisciplinary process to researching and writing papers. These chapters also include a rubric, based on the Broad Model, that students can fruitfully use to assess the interdisciplinary work of others as well as their own. Stakeholder Interview and Reflection Assignment
This book will also be useful as a supplemental text for entry-level courses in thematic multidisciplinary “studies” programs that focus on a single issue or theme. These programs include non-Western cultural studies (Asian area studies, Latin American area studies, African area studies, Middle Eastern studies), race and ethnic studies (African American
studies, ethnic and race studies, Chicano/Hispanic studies, American Indian studies, Asian American studies), Western studies (European studies, North American studies, Western period history studies, European origin studies, Western studies, Canadian studies), environmental studies, international and global studies (international relations, global, peace, conflict studies, political economy), civic and government studies (urban studies, public affairs and public policy, legal studies), women’s studies, American studies (American culture or studies, U.S. regional studies), and brain and biomedical studies (cognitive, neuroscience, biomedical, biotechnology, medical technology). Other programs include literary studies (and the rapidly expanding “digital” humanities), film studies, liberal studies, gerontology, Judaic studies, science and technology, arts management, health management, folk studies, ethics and values studies, and sexuality studies.1
Many of these programs claim interdisciplinary status, which means that they probably subscribe to the core principles of interdisciplinarity discussed in this book. The majority of the readings used in introductory courses to these programs focus primarily on the topic of the course and only secondarily on interdisciplinarity, which is referenced in class discussion during the semester. However, these courses need to introduce students to the basics of interdisciplinarity as well as to the substantive content of the theme. After all, thematic programs typically build on disciplinary courses from several disciplines. Students can use the information in this book to understand, for example, the concept of disciplinary perspective, when to use an interdisciplinary approach, how to identify disciplines that are most relevant to the course theme (even if these are preselected), and how to critically analyze disciplinary insights using interdisciplinary techniques. Systematic coverage of this and other relevant information in this book will enhance the coherence and rigor of these courses.
As it is, considerable overlap exists between multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches to learning and research. This book addresses instances of overlap but is careful to distinguish between these two broad approaches and to show how interdisciplinary approaches build on multidisciplinary approaches. The book identifies and explains the principles of interdisciplinarity without being prescriptive concerning how these principles should be applied in a particular context of interdisciplinary learning. This flexible approach enables instructors to strike a balance between introducing students to the substantive content of their course, say the environment, and the principles of interdisciplinarity. Stakeholder Interview and Reflection Assignment
This book will also be useful to general education programs. The great deficiency of many general education programs is their lack of cohesion and identifiable learning outcomes. This is remedied, in part, by structuring the program around a unifying issue, problem, or question that connects it to the disciplines participating in the common core curriculum and labeling it “interdisciplinary.” However, the critical element that is lacking is an introductory course or cohort experience that prepares students to understand what a university is, the role that disciplines and interdisciplinary programs play in it, and how to
make connections among knowledge areas that are epistemologically distant. All general education programs, therefore, need some basic understanding of interdisciplinarity. Even if the program merely requires students to take a menu of courses from participating disciplines, there should be an introductory course or entry-level cohort experience that introduces students to the disciplines constituting the common core.
To Instructors There are at least five major problems that you face when designing and teaching an introductory-level interdisciplinary course. The first is “making do” with materials that typically do not reflect recent advances in the burgeoning literature on interdisciplinary studies. The unfortunate result is that interdisciplinary instructors are often unwittingly teaching and modeling multidisciplinarity, not interdisciplinarity. Faulty course design and the absence of rigorous learning outcomes that are explicitly interdisciplinary misinform students about the principles of the field and ill prepare them for advanced interdisciplinary course work. This book reflects the significant advances in interdisciplinary practice and theory over the past decade. Research shows that repeated exposure to interdisciplinary learning contexts fosters the development of certain cognitive abilities such as perspective taking and thinking critically about conflicting information on an issue or problem from multiple knowledge sources. The book also draws on the experience and wisdom of instructors in the field, many of whom have published valuable insights. Stakeholder Interview and Reflection Assignment