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Interdisciplinarity: conclusions from the semester, hopes for the future.

When I first was offered the opinion of my previous advisor, Jason Swift, to look into Interdisciplinary Studies I was not familiar with, but intrigued by Interdisciplinary Studies at Plymouth State. Once getting an idea about what I thought Interdisciplinary Studies would be like, I decided to reach out to Robin DeRosa, the chair of the Interdisciplinary Studies program here at Plymouth State, about a week into the new year. When we met, we discussed what my interests are and how I wanted to combine them, and how Interdisciplinary Studies can help manifest that course of study. She explained to me how the contract worked and the IDS courses that I would have to be enrolled in. She told me to think about the decision and e-mail her if I wanted an override to get into the IDS2222 course for the spring. Leaving that meeting, left me confident and excited for what lay ahead, and after consulting my spirit guide (aka my mom) I made that jump, got that override, and registered for IDS2222 and some other basic courses I knew I would need to get a head start in my new major.

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In that meeting, Dr.DeRosa told me about the IDS course I would be in the spring. She told me it would be a class designed to help you create and design my major, and have some fun along the way, which is a very simplistic way of putting it. I had an idea of what I thought Interdisciplinarity is, a merging and studying of subjects and perspectives together. But what the future of the semester revealed to me, was so much more.

As the semester is coming to a close, and I reflect upon what I have learned in the IDS course through the semester, it is hard to put into words all the scholarly insight and broadening of my perspective that the Interdisciplinary Studies course has taught me. I now end the semester with a pretty clear understanding of Interdisciplinarity and Interdisciplinary Studies and how to apply that in my studies and in the future past the University. But I also take away a vital understanding of the integration of technology and how that aids my learning and my professional interaction with the world. All of these factors combined helps me in keeping a clear focus on my studies and thirst for more knowledge and development in my unique course of study, Sustainable Event Planning and Management.

The book that was paired with the course was Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies by Allen. Repko, and it was exactly that, just an introduction. It gave a very explicit and almost repetitive explanation of the basis of Interdisciplinary studies, the criticisms of the disciplines, and the application of Interdisciplinarity in the University and beyond. It was a good launching point for the discussion, debating and posting that took place inside the classroom, and outside with individuals in person and especially on Twitter. I think that my development through this course was aided by the book, but the real critical thinking and application took place in the class and what I learned is some of the most valuable material I have learned in my college career so far.

Throughout the semester in this course, reading the chapters of the book, and then discussion each week in class, my definition of Interdisciplinarity was confusing but became more and more clear and comprehensive as the weeks progressed. The course gave me a better idea of how Interdisciplinary Studies and how integration is the key to understanding what Interdisciplinary Studies is. Interdisciplinarity is based on the disciplines, but it integrates them in such a way that gives a better and more comprehensive understanding and solution to a complex problem. The ultimate end goal of Interdisciplinary Studies is to give a full and thorough way of solving problems, with a perspective that allows for cognitive understanding and action through drawing from disciplines. This is my best attempt at a clear definition of Interdisciplinary Studies, after studying it for a full semester, and I am sure that as my studies progress, so will my understanding and definition of this term and its applications.

Interdisciplinary Studies is so vital to Universities, because it gives students a comprehensive way of thinking and gives them a framework of how to question, take perspectives, and not be afraid to think outside of their disciplinary boxes that Universities typically try to hold them in. Plymouth State University, is taking initiative in seeing that Interdisciplinary Studies is applied and more integrated into every student’s experience here with the “Clusters” initiative beginning in next year. It inspires me to see that my own University is on the edge of this new and exciting take on higher education. This unique type of study and problem solving skills carries over into the real world after University, because there are practically no problems that only address or are affected by only a single discipline, and Interdisciplinary Studies prepare students for addressing any complex problem they come across in the world.

My self designed major, Sustainable Event Planning and Management, is a unique blend of sustainability classes and business classes with the aim of preparing me to plan and manage events with a sustainable perspective and application to the events I plan and manage. As I progressed through my Interdisciplinary course this semester, and working out the kinks of picking classes for my major, I gained an even clearer understanding of what my major is, and why it is interdisciplinary. Perspective taking is a huge aspect of Interdisciplinarity that allows interdisciplinarians to see a problem or task from various perspectives, and with my major, I want to be able to view events and the planning and managing problems involved with it from a sustainable perspective that allows for the events to be less harmful of the earth and utilize green business to make that happen. Another aspect of Interdisciplinarity that makes my major Interdisciplinary, is the basis of my major on disciplines, but the integration of them to make it Interdisciplinary. It is necessary for me to understand the business and management aspects of events as well as the scientific resources and practical applications of sustainability to integrate that information into my studies and future endeavors.

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My hopes for the future are to see green business take off, and to see people have a more conscious awareness of how they act and how it affects people and the environment when they are at events. I want to see a change towards sustainability at events on a personal level of every person in ways that most people are too lazy to participate in currently, as well as a administrative reconstruction of how events are run, to be more sustainable and less harmful on the environment. I think that this will not only affect the event and business industry, but carry over into people’s everyday practices and spread a green initiative to other places that even I cannot predict. I also think that the future of Interdisciplinary Studies is prosperous in its development as it keeps gaining momentum in all aspects of its use and study, and becomes more widely accepted and implemented. I also hope that the students here at PSU are going to be much better of in their studies and future endeavors when the University takes on the clusters initiative and begin to utilize the full potential of Interdisciplinarity.

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Undergraduate Journey’s toward Interdisciplinary Understanding: Interpreting and Reflection

Carolyn Haynes and Jeannie Brown Leonard are Interdisciplinary Professors and Administrators at a mid-sized college that has a unique Interdisciplinary program with a select 200 person student body. The college also teaches other disciplinary based majors, but the Interdisciplinary major requires first year students to live in the same residence halls to give them a sense of community people who share a disciplinary major have. The administrators set out with a qualitative researching approach to see how students developed in their four years in the Interdisciplinary program at their school .

To seperate themselves from the research and keep the project as unbiased as possible, “after one year of data collection, one author changed institutions and the other became an administrator in another program and did not participate in interdisciplinary program activities, thereby effectively removing any role conflict” (649 Interdisciplinary Understanding in Undergraduates). The two proceeded to interview a total of seven students for their four years at the institution, after starting with ten and three changing schools or majors after their first year. They conducted interviews with each student once a semester, until their senior year where they conducted more during their last year. The interviews were at the end of each semester about 60-90 minutes in length, and semi-structured using Baxter Magolda’s theory in mind to prompt self reflection about development and learning experiences. After the interviews, they were transcribed and read and analyzed for emerging themes.

Overall, the findings of longitudinal study were as followed:

In their first year, students were enthusiastic about learning and looked for faculty approval, while enjoying a close knit community of other interdisciplinary students. The first year students also looked to peers for validation of work and viewed professors as experts on interdisciplinarity, but also did not have a concrete definition of interdisciplinarity, and were uneasy about the loose and interpretive definitions and challenges presented to them. One student explained why she enjoyed her first year classes in the interdisciplinary program as follows; “In disciplinary courses, you learn the facts, and you’re expected to learn them and spit them back out at the teacher. But if someone were to ask me, ‘So what exactly did you learn in your interdisciplinary courses?’ I would not be able to tell them the actual facts I learned, but instead the processes [of questioning an discussion] that I gained throughout the course. I think those will stick with me” (651  Interdisciplinary Understanding in Undergraduates).

In the middle years of the students undergraduate career, the students became anxious and weary about making key decisions and exploring their major’s on their own, but they were also eager to apply knowledge in out-of-class experiences. The students found it hard to track their personal growth without other interdisciplinarians to compare to when they were taking classes in disciplines, and werent in the residence halls as interdisciplinary students anymore. One student complained “I dont have anymone to compare myself to in terms of progress or something”( 653 Interdisciplinary Understanding in Undergraduates).  These students also gained awareness of the limits of disciplines and the integration aspects of interdisciplinarity. The researchers and authors noted that “signs that students were beginning to establish their beliefs were evident in their capacity for critical analysis, particularly as related to disciplinarity and interdisciplinarity” (654 Interdisciplinary Understanding in Undergraduates).

The final years are the most inspiring to me personally, as I reflect on myself in those students position in some way, being on this journey somewhat by myself with limited people who understand my perspective and major. “All of students credited their interdisciplinary education with helping them become more open minded, inclusive, and tolerant of differences” (659 Interdisciplinary Understanding in Undergraduates). the final year students also gained a sense of agency over education and the integrative process, and really reflected on how interdisciplinarity is now integrated into one’s self and way of thinking, as well as how to learn more due to conflicting points of view and teamwork. Also at this stage in the research, the students had a more comprehensive interdisciplinary definition as being a process, encompassing greater number of disciplines and fields, that is dependent on disciplines. One student tells that “Having a self-designed major and having to reflect within yourself what’s important and critically think about ourself and your own passions and guide your own direction, that in and of itself is interdiciplinary” (659 Interdisciplinary Understanding in Undergraduates).

Each individual in the research had in depth answers about their learning and experience that helped the researchers develop a greater understanding about students journey of development in one undergraduate interdisciplinary studies program. As the researchers and authors put so perfectly, ” As students gained a sense of their own beliefs and way of knowing, their understandings of interdisciplinarity become more sophisticated” (655 Interdisciplinary Understanding in Undergraduates). Although I would like to say that I have a pretty defined answer to what Interdisciplinary studies is, based on my IDS2222 course, I am also willing to explore and try to expand my knowledge and comprehensive thought about what Interdisciplarity is and how it is applied in my studies and in the world, like a true interdisciplinarian would! This article helped me to feel certain in the uncertainty, as I reflect on how others such as these students, have gone through a similar process of finding themselves and their interdisciplinary interests, through an interdisciplinary program that promotes self help and individual learning processes.

Work Cited:

Haynes, C., & Leonard, J. B. (2010). From Surprise Parties to Mapmaking: Undergraduate Journeys toward Interdisciplinary Understanding. Journal Of Higher Education81(5), 645-666.

 

Fighting stereotypes with perspective taking

In interdisciplinary studies, perspective taking theory involves analyzing the problem from the perspective of each interested discipline and identifying the differences and similarities between them, according to Repko. This applies to how complex problems are viewed from an interdisciplinary standpoint, because it involves taking the perspective of many different standpoints.

This generally gives a more wholesome view of a problem, because you are negating having just one point of view that is your own, and influenced by your background and studies. This is also vital because it gives inter disciplinarians a better view of others, when we adopt their viewpoints or try to understand their perspective. When you view a problem through another persons lens you get a better understanding of who they are,their concerns and are less likely to generalize or stereotype.

Why is this important? Well the answer is quite obvious, if an inter disciplinarian trying to solve a problem needs to take another perspective, it is usually because that party is usually affected by or involved with the problem somehow. So, not only does it give one a more wholesome perspective, by viewing it from other standpoints, but it takes away negative stereotypes one might associate with others they may not have a comprehensive understanding of, as well as helping produce a better solution for the parties you took the perspective of.

I would personally like to see more people pick up this practice, because it gives an interdisciplinary perspective to people even if they study a certain discipline. I believe it can make any understanding of a problem more comprehensive and thorough, and also makes a person more open to understanding others and their perspective. It is both beneficial to the individual in everyday practice, and also helps people be a more globally aware citizen. I challenge you to try applying this practice, and take another’s perspective in the next problem you may think about or try to tackle!

Interdisciplinary Statement of Purpose Essay

Sustainable Event Planning and Management

The title I chose for my program is Sustainable Event Planning and Management. This is a unique combination of event planning and management that incorporates considerations of sustainability that are crucial in the world today. I am also making the vital decision in utilizing both planning and management in my studies, because I believe that one cannot be without the other. An effective manager knows why things were planned as they were, and an effective planner will be better at meeting the needs of a manageable event.

My interest in this work is grounded in my strong interest in music, which I pursue in part by attending concerts and musical festivals in a large variety of settings and  environments. One of my favorite smaller festivals is the Caramoor International Music Festival, in my hometown of Katonah, New York, with many string ensembles that draws a small crowd of 5,000. In contrast, a large festival such as Camp Bisco, with EDM and Jam music that attracts a crowd of upward of 20,000 people, which is also one of my favorites.

Being the observant and environmentally conscious explorer that I am, I take notice of the way people treat the environment at these events, and how the event staff handle the environment during events. I’ve often been ashamed to see so many people, attendees and staff alike, turn a blind eye to where their waste goes. Much of it goes unsorted into proper recycling facilities, or simply thrown on the ground.Clean Vibes, an organization, has been going to festivals since 1997 diverting many pounds of waste from landfills. I took part in the festival cleanup and recycling sorting at Gathering of the Vibes in 2015 as part of the Clean Vibes Crew and the experience. This really opened my eyes to how such efforts can make a huge difference in an aspect of an event that is often overlooked. For example, at Bonnaroo in 2014, a musical festival with an attending community upwards of 90,000, Clean Vibes recycled 422,760 pounds of waste and composted 240,000 pounds of waste, about 67% of the total waste produced at the event (Clean Vibes LLC). This inspires me for the future of sustainable events and something I hope to become involved in as a professional.

However, water issues are only the tip of the iceberg, of topics that determine how efficient and sustainable events that host such a large, beautiful and colorful community could be. I aspire to see a future of events where being environmentally conscious is second nature to all. Where leave no trace is not just encouraged, but expected, and people are engaged, educated, and participating in a green community that is better for everyone.

There is no major here that satisfies the special needs of this new major I am creating. Although there is a sustainability minor, and a general management major, even the combination of these two would not satisfy my specific needs. This is because the sustainability minor goes into an in-depth look of the science side of sustainable practices, and although I may learn some of that information, I am more focused on the practical applications of sustainable practices. The general management major has a lot of classes that cover a broad span of business aspects that are not the role I hope to have in the planning and management of events, such as legal business classes and executive management. The business classes I included in my major are more focused on marketing, accounting, and managing. The classes I have chosen for my major create a unique blend of sustainability and business classes that will allow me to go into the world prepared to manage events with a keen sustainable eye.

 

The first course listed in my self-designed major is Statistics I, which is described as an introductory course with  “applications in several disciplines such as Business, Psychology, Education, Social Sciences or Natural Sciences.” I chose this course because statistics will be used to convey information about the sustainability and many business dimensions of an event, and I need the ability to look at statistics and comprehend and analyze them to use the information and the foundations for decisions.

For the second course in my major, I chose something that covers both my TECO and WRCO, which is An Introduction to Graphic Design Software. This course teaches the basic processes of image development and word processing in graphic design software. I think this is a vital class to take in my major because marketing is a large part of the business world and being familiar with those kinds of softwares and processes will help me in the marketing aspect of planning events.  

Intro to Environmental Issues is a class I have already taken that is described as “Teaches the multidisciplinary approach necessary for successful investigation and resolution of environmental issues.” (Champlain College course catalog). This was my first introduction to interdisciplinarity, and in my major gives me the knowledge of the complexity of problems and how to approach them with an environmental tone. This will prove useful for me when tackling problems that will pop up in planning events, as well as the task of merging sustainability practices to events.

Foundations of Human Communication is a class that I also have already taken at Champlain College. This course focuses on communicating effectively and analyzing the communication of others and enhancing those skills. This is in my major because it provides me with crucial skills that I will need to communicate my ideas to professionals in my field, and to individuals at events, and staff managing. I believe that the more effectively an idea is communicated the easier it is for people to understand it and take it seriously. Articulating presentations, project ideas, plans, and directions are ways of communicating that are so important in the planning and management of events and I need to be able to effectively communicate in these ways.

Principles of Marketing is a class that teaches how to create value for customers, and the concepts related to marketing. This is in my major to teach me how to create value from my sustainable event management and planning. It will also teach me to be able to market my services to event corporations and to participants at events.

Energy and Society is a course that “Investigates the different forms of energy and the natural laws that govern their use, transformation, and conservation.” (Plymouth Course Catalog). I feel that this will go hand in hand, in terms of use, with my statistics course also included in my major. It will provide me a fresh perspective of looking at the energy consumption of the event as a whole, which as discussed in my introduction can be almost as big as 100,000 people and needs to be viewed sustainably. This will give me some background knowledge, as well as an idea of how to understand energy statistics and contemplate how to make energy consumption more efficient.

Sustainable Structures is a course that offers the insight of sustainable building and the design, methods and materials that go along with it. This is important in my major because it allows me to think creatively and critically about structures and how they can affect the environment. I will carry this knowledge over to my profession in managing events with regards to the structures used there such as stages, campsites, vendors, and food providers.

Business and the Environment looks at the relationship between the Environment and Business in a multidisciplinary way. This is going to provide me with the insight of how business and the environment have worked together in the past, showing what does and does not work well. Then I will be able to use that knowledge to apply to my business in future environmental relations.

Environmental Ethics is a class that views the relationship between humans and the environment. This is crucial for my major to teach me how human values, beliefs, and ethics affect how we interact with the environment on an individual scale.

Sustainability in Practice is a class that views the difficulty of applying sustainability into practice professionally, and how to communicate effectively to encourage others to make more sustainable choices. Identifying, analyzing, conducting research, and addressing sustainability issues is covered in the class. This is in my major to assist me in tackling the problem of merging sustainability with multiple disciplines, and idea generation on how to solve related problems.

Financial Accounting is a class that introduces the principles, measurement techniques, and applications of accounting. This is in my major to ensure I have the capability of planning for and running an event that is sustainable financially as well.

Management Accounting is a class that covers topics of specific detail that management accountants need to make sound business decisions. This is in my major to go along with Financial Accounting in that I know how to run an event that is cost effective and make decisions that make sense.

Event Marketing is a class that teaches concepts and allows students to apply learned concepts into creating and promoting events around the PSU campus. This is in my major to give me the event marketing skills that I will need when promoting and marketing my sustainable events.

The Art of Sustainability is a class that explores environmental sustainability through the portal of art and a variety of topics and concepts such as Eco-Art. This is in my major because I know that it takes a keen creative eye to promote, market, and engage people. The unique aspect of sustainability,art must be a part of that to draw in people into sustainable events. This class will provide me with an insight on how Eco-Art draws people in, and be able to carry it into my sustainable events.

Business Ethics is a class that uses philosophy and business to investigate ethical issues in business. I think this is crucial for my major to ensure I understand how to create an ethical business that doesn’t just concern the environment, but also other ethics, and to account for other views from different perspectives than my own.

Issues in Sustainability is a class that will provide me with the knowledge of the complexity of sustainability and the careful problems that come along with it. This is crucial for my major to be able to tackle problems in sustainability confidently and have the knowledge base of what others already have encountered.

Interdisciplinarity is “a cognitive process by which individuals draw on disciplinary perspectives and integrate their insights to advance their understanding of a complex problem with the goal of applying the understanding to a real-world problem” according to Repko. Sustainable Event Planning and Management is interdisciplinary in nature by combining sustainable knowledge practices and applying them to event planning and management. I believe that this program will give me the knowledge base of environmental issues, sustainable practices, effective communication skills, and business knowledge and skills that will allow me to be a successful sustainable event planner and manager.

Work Cited:

Repko, Allen F., Rick Szostak, and Michelle Phillips Buchberger. Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies. N.p.: SAGE Publications, n.d. Print.

How does interdisciplinary studies effect perspective taking?

An important type of perspective taking is role taking. Which can be described as “adopting a set of perspectives associated with a person, a group, or a culture” (Repko 95). This is a vital part of understanding another person, group, or culture and the way they view the world, or a specific issue or problem. If an individual has a specific disciplinary field of study, it is inevitable for them to view the world, and issues in the world with that disciplinary lens (refer to my interdisciplinary lens post for more information on lenses).  Repko defines Disciplinary perspective as “a unique view of reality that is like a lens through which it views the world” (Repko 97).

So you may be wondering, is there an interdisciplinary lens, or does Interdisciplinary study effect one’s view of the world? The answer is: absolutely! Repko defines interdisciplinary perspective taking as “the intellectual capacity to view a complex problem, phenomenon, or behavior from multiple perspectives, including disciplinary ones, in order to develop a more comprehensive understanding of it.” (Repko 95). But the most important part of this type of perspective taking is that it takes on the perspectives of disciplines only temporarily, and understands their context, and treats them only as one viewpoint of many. This is what sets interdisciplinary studies apart from other specific disciplines. It gives the intellectual capacity to form a more comprehensive understanding by adopting and seeing through multiple disciplinary lenses. I mean hey, who  says you just have to use one! It makes viewing a problem easier to see as a muti-faceted issue, and  enables one to utilize knowledge from as many disciplines as needed. So next time you’re facing an issue in your personal life, or viewing one in the world, challenge yourself to think interdisciplinary. Try viewing it through different perspectives, you just might learn something you would have otherwise overlooked!

©iStockphoto.com/RichVintage

Work Cited:

Repko, Allen F., Rick Szostak, and Michelle Phillips Buchberger. Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

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.

Image: https://smileandbefree.com/tag/artistic-roots/

 

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: http://www.123rf.com/photo_5693122_global-connection-businessman-globally-connected.html

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