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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2 thoughts on “Interdisciplinarity: conclusions from the semester, hopes for the future.”

  1. Awesome essay Megan. I can tell you spent a lot of time reflecting on the semester and the progression of your career interests. I especially liked your personal definition of IDS. I totally agree that the goal 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.” With your degree especially, I’d anticipate a lot of complex problems that have a lot of perspectives at stake: businesses, climate scientists, marketers…. It’s really cool that you’ve recognized a need for sustainable event planning; you’re bringing two large fields to a crossroads, and I presume you will merge the two paths seamlessly. Your work is going to lead to a convergence of both the business and sustainability industries where folks from both sides can work together on issues and move towards a greater good. Your work is truly commendable!

  2. This is just SO well said: “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.” You have such a good grounding in the fundamentals of interdisciplinary inquiry, and that is what is special about your program, in my opinion. You took a solid business idea, merged with a crucial environmental mission, and wrapped it all in a thorough understanding of how to merge these worlds together. You are going to be a leader in our program, and please, please stay in touch next year– right in the Fall, ok?– so we can find ways to keep you in the leadership of PSU IDS.

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