Monthly Archives: February 2016

Multiple Disciplines for one Hugely successful event!

Earth Jam is an annual spring music festival hosted by Common Ground at Plymouth State University. Common Ground is an on campus organization that promotes environmental awareness and sustainable practices through volunteering, clean-up’s, fundraising, and various events throughout the school year, managing, hosting, and going out with a bang for Earth Jam! Common Ground President, Sydney Copp, gave me an inside scoop on what makes its all about “it is a solar powered music festival that’s purpose is to provide entertainment, information, and advocate for a sustainable life and meanwhile have fun doing it!” 

The festival is an all day event that highlights  Earth Day and celebrates the spring season, just a week before the annual Spring Fling. Typically it features half a dozen bands, ranging from Plymouth based bands such as Pardon the Spins and Elephant, to larger East Coast bands such as Harsh Armadillo and Viral Sound. All of which is feel good music that keeps the energy high and everybody’s feet dancing!

Earth Jam sign 2012

Earth Jam has been hugely successful in recent years and draws a lot of attention due to its unique sustainable features. The whole ten hour festival is completely solar powered from the food vendors to the musical acts. That’s a whole lot of power! While also featuring other sustainable aspects such as signs made of recycled materials, booths featuring environmental engagement groups, and the local food sources and community involvement for the festival. All of these things promoting environmental and sustainability awareness in 400 average student body and community members who attend the festival.

It also strikes inspiration in the hearts of many environmentalists on campus, such as myself, who dream of a greener future. Fortunately, the students here at Plymouth State get to be part of such an amazing event that gives us a taste of what the future of sustainable event planning could be.

This fun and engaging event is great for all ages! The sustainable theme of this festival gives it an aspect to feel good about. Dancing, singing, and jamming, that’s good for the environment! A fun loving cause everybody can get behind. Check out this years event on Facebook.



An interdisciplinary Inspiration

I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to know the courageous teacher, artist, mentor, and interdisciplinarian, Kimberly Anderson Ritchie. She is well respected around the Plymouth State University campus since her start here four years ago. She studied printmaking and environmental issues in Grad School. I personally had the pleasure of having my 2D: Color and Content class and the opportunity to work closely with her on an interdisciplinary project 10,000 Steps: Her Long Walk For Water during the fall semester of 2015. She is an essential part of the PSU community and I recently had the opportunity to interview her about her life’s work and involvement at PSU.

Mrs. Ritchie went in depth telling me about the many hats she wears for her different roles here at PSU. To start, she is the printmaking coordinator for the art department, the 2D class coordinator, and advisor to many students in the Art Department. From my personal experience, I see how deeply she engages and responds to her students in their artwork and participation in the arts, always encouraging to dig a little deeper and work for that extra special expression and outcome. “I encourage students to reach across boundaries within their work if it suits their path or interest” said Ritchie in our interview. She takes pride in displaying all the work of her classes and students. The printmaking and 2D classes have work displayed in the Silver Center for the Arts, as well as the Student Juried Exhibition and the Presidents Juried show.

Beyond that, she is an active artist who has done artist residencies and has work displayed nationally and intentionally. She specializes in printmaking, but explores mediums far beyond that in her own work and in the classroom. She says that she enjoys printmaking so much “because it is so versatile, includes the book arts …and it is quite large of a field”. So there is a lot of room for exploration.

Ritchie also did a recent collaboration with Shandra McLane, developing a STEAM based curriculum, which stands for Science Technology Engineering Art and Math. The two collaborators traveled to Sweden to teach this curriculum in September of 2015 and taught it to college age Afghanistan, Somalian and Syrian Refugees. You can read more about it on her blog.

She’s had a large involvement with an interdisciplinary project at PSU, the 10,000 steps project, which I had a close involvement with as well. The project collaborated the 2D class, an environmental issues class, and fell under the international week. It engaged the arts and sciences to make print artwork about environmental water issues that people face in other parts of the world, we may not consider. It promoted the awareness of these issue and involved a lot of interdisciplinary work  from students and faculty, you can read about it more here. Then Professor Ritchie and myself, with other students had the opportunity to talk about our interdisciplinary work with the project to the President and Dean’s of PSU as well as the New Hampshire Legislature at a brunch in December.

Me and my artwork, part of the 10,000 steps project.
Me and my artwork, part of the 10,000 steps project.

Ritchie also studied the discipline of environmental issues in college. She explained that her upbringing always left her seeing things through an environmental lense and draws on that in her artwork. It is easy to see the connection between her background, previous experience and the 10,000 steps project. She also explains that she would like to work further with science faculty on observing their practices and making art about those subjects.

It is truly inspiring to know a female leader such as Kimberly Ritchie, paving the way with artwork and interdisciplinary work here at PSU. It’s thrilling to see the art and sciences come together in such a meaningful and beautiful way and Ritchie has done that time and time again. I cant wait to see the future with more collaborations and interdisciplinary work for Professor Ritchie and the whole PSU community.

Kimberly Anderson Ritchie in her office at Plymouth State University.
Kimberly Anderson Ritchie in her office at Plymouth State University.


A new lense- the Interdisciplinary Lens

A lens is an easy way of saying the perspective someone see’s issues through. Which is mainly based on your personality and upbringing before you have formed opinions and had altering experiences. Typically, someone with a major personality trait or who study in a certain discipline, they see the world with a subconscious bias on whatever subject or problem they are looking at. This influences the problem they see, how they think it can be dealt with and the resources seen as available to them. This can be limiting in a number of ways, because it doesn’t give context to the bigger picture that a distinct lens can often miss. It’s kind of like seeing that your spring flowers aren’t blooming, and thinking its because you didn’t water them enough, not because the bees are dying and your flowers didn’t get a chance to be pollinated and plant their seed again for this year.

Luckily, there is a lens that can avoid this pin hole perspective and expand your way of thinking with infinite possibilities across multiple disciplines, yes you guessed it, its the interdisciplinary lens! This is a unique lens that people gain through Interdisciplinary studies. It can show you how to think critically about the context or bigger picture, and all the components that may go into a problem and then be able to utilize multiple disciplines and lots of different knowledge to tailor specifically to whatever problem you are facing. It is creative and unique, and can lead to the most effective outcome possible. So why settle for one measly way to look at the world, when you can look at it Interdisciplinarily and see a picture(or made up word) you’ve never imagined possible!

The end is only the beginning

As corny as it may sound, this seems like the only decent way to successfully put into perspective how interdisciplinary studies is changing the way students get their education, and the end of single minded disciplines is the beginning of utilizing interdisciplinarity.

To start, I am not completely dissing disciplines. I think it is important for some to have focus or specialization in one area. However, to some degree in all disciplines, interdisciplinary studies need to come into play. As it is important for a mechanic to know the in’s and out’s of a car parts and how they function. But to effectively solve a problem they must incorporate knowledge from other disciplines such as the weather, human behavior, or the chemical make up of fluids in the car. With out the drawing on other disciplines, even if their main task is accomplished in their focused discipline, to reach the conclusion of what needs to be fixed, they need to know a lot more than just the parts of the car.

So when we’re talking about the product or outcome of interdisciplinary studies, Repko points out that the “cognitive gain of interdisciplinary studies, then, is a combination of cognition and application, of understanding and taking action.” (Repko chapter 2). So, when solving a problem or answering a question, it is necessary to be able to properly understand the problem and then know how to solve it. With most problems, to understand, one must draw on multiple disciplines, and to solve the problem one must use what they know in action. So when we talk about interdisciplinary studies we want to be able to integrate knowledge from disciplines, as well as apply that same integration into the actual solution. There cannot be one without the other, and when its used in both, the solution, insight or explanation is stronger and more effective.

So if you follow interdisciplinary studies path in higher education, you should have the tools to identify, evaluate, and integrate (Rhoten, Repko chapter 2)for effective problem solving. These is the kind of important problem solving skills that will not only equip you for the workplace, but for any problems in your day to day that may come your way.

Work Cited:

Alan Repko “Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies” chapter 1.Repko, Allen F., Richard Szostak, and Michelle Buchberger. SAGE Publications, Inc; 1 Edition (May 20, 2013). N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

Globalization of the Workplace

Its no secret, since the invention of the world wide web, humans have been more connected than ever. Now, in 2016, I can send a picture of my front yard in New Hampshire to someone in Zimbabwe in a split second, and get a picture of their front yard in Harare just a second later. This changes things considerably for what it means to be a global citizen and how to be engaged in our ever changing, and interconnected world. It also changes things considerably for the workplace and how companies and employees interact all over the world. At the heart of this change is the internet, the motherboard of communication these days, with five different ways to poke, tag, message, @, and hashtag people.

So what does that mean for the future employee and student of this new global workplace? Well, a couple crucial things are for sure. When the workplace changes and expands so exponentially, what is expected of employees changes as well. Therefor, how employees get their education and training for this new and evolved workplace needs to change as well. As stated in Repko’s Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies, “What a traditional major typically fails to provide is context—the context of the whole system—and the ability to view reality through multiple disciplinary lenses and make connections across different knowledge formations.” This highlights the importance of interdisciplinary studies in school because it enables students to make those connections and carry the know how on connecting and using multiple resources into the work place. That ability lets employees be more equipped to reach out to any corner of the world they need to find those resources or to solve problems, even from hundreds of thousands of miles away. It also gives the context that employees going into the workplace with a traditional major degree, lack. So in the end, it just makes sense. Interdisciplinary studies gives students the connecting ability, context and know how to tackle any problem life or your boss, puts in front of you.

Work cited: Alan Repko “Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies” chapter 1.Repko, Allen F., Richard Szostak, and Michelle Buchberger. SAGE Publications, Inc; 1 Edition (May 20, 2013). N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

2. Picture:

Megan, an introduction.

Hello reader of this blog post, I am Megan, the creator and writer of this blog. Its primary purpose is to help me start writing professionally about the critical thinking I do every day for classes, personal experiences and for my career. This specific post is just to tell any one who is curious, an insight about who I am right now. I am currently an Interdisciplinary Studies major at Plymouth State, and am loving my first academic year in New Hampshire. I am a Gemini and strongly believe that is the explanation for my severe opinions and kind but decisive heart. I have a strong passion for the arts. Almost anything can spark my imagination for a new project, from recycled crafts, or jewelry making, to patch work and painting! I love seeing live music, and go to a concert or festival almost every month. In this past year I have found a new love for hooping, and I do it about every day! I also love to experience the outdoors and have a strong demanding curiosity about sustainability. I hope to be able to continue learning about all my passions through personal and academic pursuit. If you made it this far, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy reading what I have to say in the future.