|Part of a series on|
Interdisciplinarity or interdisciplinary studies involves the combining of two or more academic disciplines into one activity (e.g., a research project).It draws knowledge from several other fields like sociology, anthropology, psychology, economics etc. It is about creating something by thinking across boundaries. It is related to an interdiscipline or an interdisciplinary field, which is an organizational unit that crosses traditional boundaries between academic disciplines or schools of thought, as new needs and professions emerge. Large engineering teams are usually interdisciplinary, as a power station or mobile phone or other project requires the melding of several specialties. However, the term "interdisciplinary" is sometimes confined to academic settings.
The term interdisciplinary is applied within education and training pedagogies to describe studies that use methods and insights of several established disciplines or traditional fields of study. Interdisciplinarity involves researchers, students, and teachers in the goals of connecting and integrating several academic schools of thought, professions, or technologies—along with their specific perspectives—in the pursuit of a common task. The epidemiology of HIV/AIDS or global warming requires understanding of diverse disciplines to solve complex problems. Interdisciplinary may be applied where the subject is felt to have been neglected or even misrepresented in the traditional disciplinary structure of research institutions, for example, women's studies or ethnic area studies. Interdisciplinarity can likewise be applied to complex subjects that can only be understood by combining the perspectives of two or more fields.
The adjective interdisciplinary is most often used in educational circles when researchers from two or more disciplines pool their approaches and modify them so that they are better suited to the problem at hand, including the case of the team-taught course where students are required to understand a given subject in terms of multiple traditional disciplines. For example, the subject of land use may appear differently when examined by different disciplines, for instance, biology, chemistry, economics, geography, and politics.
Although "interdisciplinary" and "interdisciplinarity" are frequently viewed as twentieth century terms, the concept has historical antecedents, most notably Greek philosophy.Julie Thompson Klein attests that "the roots of the concepts lie in a number of ideas that resonate through modern discourse—the ideas of a unified science, general knowledge, synthesis and the integration of knowledge", while Giles Gunn says that Greek historians and dramatists took elements from other realms of knowledge (such as medicine or philosophy) to further understand their own material. The building of Roman roads required men who understood surveying, material science, logistics and several other disciplines. Any broadminded humanist project involves interdisciplinarity, and history shows a crowd of cases, as seventeenth-century Leibniz's task to create a system of universal justice, which required linguistics, economics, management, ethics, law philosophy, politics, and even sinology.
Interdisciplinary programs sometimes arise from a shared conviction that the traditional disciplines are unable or unwilling to address an important problem. For example, social science disciplines such as anthropology and sociology paid little attention to the social analysis of technology throughout most of the twentieth century. As a result, many social scientists with interests in technology have joined science, technology and society programs, which are typically staffed by scholars drawn from numerous disciplines. They may also arise from new research developments, such as nanotechnology, which cannot be addressed without combining the approaches of two or more disciplines. Examples include quantum information processing, an amalgamation of quantum physics and computer science, and bioinformatics, combining molecular biology with computer science. Sustainable development as a research area deals with problems requiring analysis and synthesis across economic, social and environmental spheres; often an integration of multiple social and natural science disciplines. Interdisciplinary research is also key to the study of health sciences, for example in studying optimal solutions to diseases.Some institutions of higher education offer accredited degree programs in Interdisciplinary Studies.
At another level, interdisciplinarity is seen as a remedy to the harmful effects of excessive specialization and isolation in information silos. On some views, however, interdisciplinarity is entirely indebted to those who specialize in one field of study—that is, without specialists, interdisciplinarians would have no information and no leading experts to consult. Others place the focus of interdisciplinarity on the need to transcend disciplines, viewing excessive specialization as problematic both epistemologically and politically. When interdisciplinary collaboration or research results in new solutions to problems, much information is given back to the various disciplines involved. Therefore, both disciplinarians and interdisciplinarians may be seen in complementary relation to one another.
Because most participants in interdisciplinary ventures were trained in traditional disciplines, they must learn to appreciate differing of perspectives and methods. For example, a discipline that places more emphasis on quantitative rigor may produce practitioners who are more scientific in their training than others; in turn, colleagues in "softer" disciplines who may associate quantitative approaches with difficulty grasp the broader dimensions of a problem and lower rigor in theoretical and qualitative argumentation. An interdisciplinary program may not succeed if its members remain stuck in their disciplines (and in disciplinary attitudes). Those who lack experience in interdisciplinary collaborations may also not fully appreciate the intellectual contribution of colleagues from those discipline.From the disciplinary perspective, however, much interdisciplinary work may be seen as "soft", lacking in rigor, or ideologically motivated; these beliefs place barriers in the career paths of those who choose interdisciplinary work. For example, interdisciplinary grant applications are often refereed by peer reviewers drawn from established disciplines; not surprisingly, interdisciplinary researchers may experience difficulty getting funding for their research. In addition, untenured researchers know that, when they seek promotion and tenure, it is likely that some of the evaluators will lack commitment to interdisciplinarity. They may fear that making a commitment to interdisciplinary research will increase the risk of being denied tenure.
Interdisciplinary programs may also fail if they are not given sufficient autonomy. For example, interdisciplinary faculty are usually recruited to a joint appointment, with responsibilities in both an interdisciplinary program (such as women's studies) and a traditional discipline (such as history). If the traditional discipline makes the tenure decisions, new interdisciplinary faculty will be hesitant to commit themselves fully to interdisciplinary work. Other barriers include the generally disciplinary orientation of most scholarly journals, leading to the perception, if not the fact, that interdisciplinary research is hard to publish. In addition, since traditional budgetary practices at most universities channel resources through the disciplines, it becomes difficult to account for a given scholar or teacher's salary and time. During periods of budgetary contraction, the natural tendency to serve the primary constituency (i.e., students majoring in the traditional discipline) makes resources scarce for teaching and research comparatively far from the center of the discipline as traditionally understood. For these same reasons, the introduction of new interdisciplinary programs is often resisted because it is perceived as a competition for diminishing funds.
Due to these and other barriers, interdisciplinary research areas are strongly motivated to become disciplines themselves. If they succeed, they can establish their own research funding programs and make their own tenure and promotion decisions. In so doing, they lower the risk of entry. Examples of former interdisciplinary research areas that have become disciplines, many of them named for their parent disciplines, include neuroscience, cybernetics, biochemistry and biomedical engineering. These new fields are occasionally referred to as "interdisciplines". On the other hand, even though interdisciplinary activities are now a focus of attention for institutions promoting learning and teaching, as well as organizational and social entities concerned with education, they are practically facing complex barriers, serious challenges and criticism. The most important obstacles and challenges faced by interdisciplinary activities in the past two decades can be divided into "professional", "organizational", and "cultural" obstacles.
An initial distinction should be made between interdisciplinary studies, which can be found spread across the academy today, and the study of interdisciplinarity, which involves a much smaller group of researchers. The former is instantiated in thousands of research centers across the US and the world. The latter has one US organization, the Association for Interdisciplinary Studies(founded in 1979), two international organizations, the International Network of Inter- and Transdisciplinarity (founded in 2010) and the Philosophy of/as Interdisciplinarity Network (founded in 2009), and one research institute devoted to the theory and practice of interdisciplinarity, the Center for the Study of Interdisciplinarity at the University of North Texas (founded in 2008). As of 1 September 2014, the Center for the Study of Interdisciplinarity has ceased to exist. This is the result of administrative decisions at the University of North Texas.
An interdisciplinary study is an academic program or process seeking to synthesize broad perspectives, knowledge, skills, interconnections, and epistemology in an educational setting. Interdisciplinary programs may be founded in order to facilitate the study of subjects which have some coherence, but which cannot be adequately understood from a single disciplinary perspective (for example, women's studies or medieval studies). More rarely, and at a more advanced level, interdisciplinarity may itself become the focus of study, in a critique of institutionalized disciplines' ways of segmenting knowledge.
In contrast, studies of interdisciplinarity raise to self-consciousness questions about how interdisciplinarity works, the nature and history of disciplinarity, and the future of knowledge in post-industrial society. Researchers at the Center for the Study of Interdisciplinarity have made the distinction between philosophy 'of' and 'as' interdisciplinarity, the former identifying a new, discrete area within philosophy that raises epistemological and metaphysical questions about the status of interdisciplinary thinking, with the latter pointing toward a philosophical practice that is sometimes called 'field philosophy'.
Perhaps the most common complaint regarding interdisciplinary programs, by supporters and detractors alike, is the lack of synthesis—that is, students are provided with multiple disciplinary perspectives, but are not given effective guidance in resolving the conflicts and achieving a coherent view of the subject. Others have argued that the very idea of synthesis or integration of disciplines presupposes questionable politico-epistemic commitments.Critics of interdisciplinary programs feel that the ambition is simply unrealistic, given the knowledge and intellectual maturity of all but the exceptional undergraduate; some defenders concede the difficulty, but insist that cultivating interdisciplinarity as a habit of mind, even at that level, is both possible and essential to the education of informed and engaged citizens and leaders capable of analyzing, evaluating, and synthesizing information from multiple sources in order to render reasoned decisions.
While much has been written on the philosophy and promise of interdisciplinarity in academic programs and professional practice, social scientists are increasingly interrogating academic discourses on interdisciplinarity, as well as how interdisciplinarity actually works—and does not—in practice.Some have shown, for example, that some interdisciplinary enterprises that aim to serve society can produce deleterious outcomes for which no one can be held to account.
Since 1998, there has been an ascendancy in the value of interdisciplinary research and teaching and a growth in the number of bachelor's degrees awarded at U.S. universities classified as multi- or interdisciplinary studies. The number of interdisciplinary bachelor's degrees awarded annually rose from 7,000 in 1973 to 30,000 a year by 2005 according to data from the National Center of Educational Statistics (NECS). In addition, educational leaders from the Boyer Commission to Carnegie's President Vartan Gregorian to Alan I. Leshner, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science have advocated for interdisciplinary rather than disciplinary approaches to problem solving in the 21st century. This has been echoed by federal funding agencies, particularly the National Institutes of Health under the direction of Elias Zerhouni, who has advocated that grant proposals be framed more as interdisciplinary collaborative projects than single researcher, single discipline ones.
At the same time, many thriving longstanding bachelor's in interdisciplinary studies programs in existence for 30 or more years, have been closed down, in spite of healthy enrollment. Examples include Arizona International (formerly part of the University of Arizona), the School of Interdisciplinary Studies at Miami University, and the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies at Wayne State University; others such as the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies at Appalachian State University, and George Mason University's New Century College, have been cut back. Stuart Henry[ citation needed ] has seen this trend as part of the hegemony of the disciplines in their attempt to recolonize the experimental knowledge production of otherwise marginalized fields of inquiry. This is due to threat perceptions seemingly based on the ascendancy of interdisciplinary studies against traditional academia.
There are many examples of when a particular idea, almost on the same period, arises in different disciplines. One case is the shift from the approach of focusing on "specialized segments of attention" (adopting one particular perspective), to the idea of "instant sensory awareness of the whole", an attention to the "total field", a "sense of the whole pattern, of form and function as a unity", an "integral idea of structure and configuration". This has happened in painting (with cubism), physics, poetry, communication and educational theory. According to Marshall McLuhan, this paradigm shift was due to the passage from an era shaped by mechanization, which brought sequentiality, to the era shaped by the instant speed of electricity, which brought simultaneity.
An article in the Social Science Journalattempts to provide a simple, common-sense, definition of interdisciplinarity, bypassing the difficulties of defining that concept and obviating the need for such related concepts as transdisciplinarity, pluridisciplinarity, and multidisciplinarity:
"To begin with, a discipline can be conveniently defined as any comparatively self-contained and isolated domain of human experience which possesses its own community of experts. Interdisciplinarity is best seen as bringing together distinctive components of two or more disciplines. In academic discourse, interdisciplinarity typically applies to four realms: knowledge, research, education, and theory. Interdisciplinary knowledge involves familiarity with components of two or more disciplines. Interdisciplinary research combines components of two or more disciplines in the search or creation of new knowledge, operations, or artistic expressions. Interdisciplinary education merges components of two or more disciplines in a single program of instruction. Interdisciplinary theory takes interdisciplinary knowledge, research, or education as its main objects of study."
In turn, interdisciplinary richness of any two instances of knowledge, research, or education can be ranked by weighing four variables: number of disciplines involved, the "distance" between them, the novelty of any particular combination, and their extent of integration.
Interdisciplinary knowledge and research are important because:
"The modern mind divides, specializes, thinks in categories: the Greek instinct was the opposite, to take the widest view, to see things as an organic whole [...]. The Olympic games were designed to test the arete of the whole man, not a merely specialized skill [...]. The great event was the pentathlon, if you won this, you were a man. Needless to say, the Marathon race was never heard of until modern times: the Greeks would have regarded it as a monstrosity."
"Previously, men could be divided simply into the learned and the ignorant, those more or less the one, and those more or less the other. But your specialist cannot be brought in under either of these two categories. He is not learned, for he is formally ignorant of all that does not enter into his specialty; but neither is he ignorant, because he is 'a scientist,' and 'knows' very well his own tiny portion of the universe. We shall have to say that he is a learned ignoramus, which is a very serious matter, as it implies that he is a person who is ignorant, not in the fashion of the ignorant man, but with all the petulance of one who is learned in his own special line."
"It is the custom among those who are called "practical" men to condemn any man capable of a wide survey as a visionary: no man is thought worthy of a voice in politics unless he ignores or does not know nine-tenths of the most important relevant facts."
Research is "creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of humans, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications." It involves the collection, organization, and analysis of information to increase our understanding of a topic or issue. At a general level, research has three steps: 1. Pose a question. 2. Collect data to answer the question. 3. Present an answer to the question. This should be a familiar process. You engage in solving problems every day and you start with a question, collect some information, and then form an answer. Research is important for three reasons.1. Research adds to our knowledge: Adding to knowledge means that educators undertake research to contribute to existing information about issues 2.Research improves practice: Research is also important because it suggests improvements for practice. Armed with research results, teachers and other educators become more effective professionals. 3. Research informs policy debates: research also provides information to policy makers when they research and debate educational topics.
Social science is the branch of science devoted to the study of human societies and the relationships among individuals within those societies. The term was formerly used to refer to the field of sociology, the original "science of society", established in the 19th century. In addition to sociology, it now encompasses a wide array of academic disciplines, including anthropology, archaeology, economics, human geography, linguistics, management science, media studies, musicology, political science, psychology, welfare and nursing studies and social history.
In the social and life sciences, a case study is a research method involving an up-close, in-depth, and detailed examination of a particular case. For example, a case study in medicine may examine a specific patient a doctor treated, and a case study in business might study a particular firm's strategy. Generally, a case can be nearly any unit of analysis, including individuals, organizations, events, or actions.
Qualitative research is a scientific method of observation to gather non-numerical data, while focusing on meaning-making. This often occurs through "case study, personal experience, introspection, life story, interview, artifacts, and cultural texts and productions, along with observational, historical, interactional, and visual texts." This type of research answers questions related to why or how a certain phenomenon may occur, rather than how often it occurs.
Educational research refers to the systematic collection and analysis of data related to the field of education. Research may involve a variety of methods and various aspects of education including student learning, teaching methods, teacher training, and classroom dynamics.
Communication studies or communication sciences is an academic discipline that deals with processes of human communication and behavior, patterns of communication in interpersonal relationships, social interactions and communication in different cultures. Communication is commonly defined as giving, receiving or exchanging ideas, information, signals or messages through appropriate media, enabling individuals or groups to persuade, to seek information, to give information or to express emotions effectively. Communication studies is a social science that uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge that encompasses a range of topics, from face-to-face conversation at a level of individual agency and interaction to social and cultural communication systems at a macro level.
Methodology is the systematic, theoretical analysis of the methods applied to a field of study. It comprises the theoretical analysis of the body of methods and principles associated with a branch of knowledge. Typically, it encompasses concepts such as paradigm, theoretical model, phases and quantitative or qualitative techniques.
Transdisciplinarity connotes a research strategy that crosses many disciplinary boundaries to create a holistic approach. It applies to research efforts focused on problems that cross the boundaries of two or more disciplines, such as research on effective information systems for biomedical research, and can refer to concepts or methods that were originally developed by one discipline, but are now used by several others, such as ethnography, a field research method originally developed in anthropology but now widely used by other disciplines. The Belmont Forum elaborated that a transdisciplinary approach is enabling inputs and scoping across scientific and non-scientific stakeholder communities and facilitating a systemic way of addressing a challenge. This includes initiatives that support the capacity building required for the successful transdisciplinary formulation and implementation of research actions.
Integrative learning is a learning theory describing a movement toward integrated lessons helping students make connections across curricula. This higher education concept is distinct from the elementary and high school "integrated curriculum" movement.
The term interdiscipline or inter-discipline means an organizational unit that involves two or more academic disciplines, but which have the formal criteria of disciplines such as dedicated research journals, conferences and university departments. It is related to interdisciplinarity, but it is a noun used for a certain kind of unit. As shown in the example of demography below a field may be both a discipline and an interdiscipline at the same time. The example of Information science demonstrates that a field may be regarded as a discipline in some countries but an interdiscipline in other countries.
Library and information science (LIS) or "library and information studies" is a merging of library science and information science. The joint term is associated with schools of library and information science. In the last part of the 1960s, schools of librarianship, which generally developed from professional training programs to university institutions during the second half of the 20th century, began to add the term "information science" to their names. The first school to do this was at the University of Pittsburgh in 1964. More schools followed during the 1970s and 1980s, and by the 1990s almost all library schools in the USA had added information science to their names. Weaver Press: Although there are exceptions, similar developments have taken place in other parts of the world. In Denmark, for example, the 'Royal School of Librarianship' changed its English name to The Royal School of Library and Information Science in 1997. Exceptions include Tromsø, Norway, where the term documentation science is the preferred name of the field, France, where information science and communication studies form one interdiscipline, and Sweden, where the fields of Archival science, Library science and Museology have been integrated as Archival, Library and Museum studies.
The history of the social sciences has origin in the common stock of Western philosophy and shares various precursors, but began most intentionally in the early 19th century with the positivist philosophy of science. Since the mid-20th century, the term "social science" has come to refer more generally, not just to sociology, but to all those disciplines which analyze society and culture; from anthropology to linguistics to media studies.
Service science, management, and engineering (SSME) is a term introduced by IBM to describe service science, an interdisciplinary approach to the study, design, and implementation of service systems – complex systems in which specific arrangements of people and technologies take actions that provide value for others. More precisely, SSME has been defined as the application of science, management, and engineering disciplines to tasks that one organization beneficially performs for and with another.
Childhood studies or children's studies (CS) is a multi-disciplinary field that utilizes all areas of study to understand childhoods as experienced by children historically or contemporary. CS addresses that childhood is "a complex social phenomenon." Additionally, it studies the relationship of children's agency, participating as social actors. Children's studies acknowledge that childhood is socially constructed, as there is no such thing of what childhood means and is not universal. CS draws on scholarship in the social sciences, the humanities, and the behavioral sciences.
Robert Frodeman is former Professor and former Chair, Dept of Philosophy and Religion, University of North Texas, previously at the University of Colorado, and Director of UNT's Center for the Study of Interdisciplinarity. A student of Alphonso Lingis and Stanley Rosen, Frodeman works in the areas of environmental ethics and environmental philosophy, the philosophy of geology, the philosophy of science policy, and the philosophy of interdisciplinarity, and has written an extensive body of peer-reviewed academic work in these areas. Throughout his work he emphasizes the role that philosophy can play in addressing ongoing societal controversies such as acid mine drainage, global climate change, and Hurricane Katrina. His most recent work focuses on the use and abuse of knowledge for social amelioration, a topic that has come to be known as critical university studies. Frodeman is also part of a growing movement known as 'field philosophy' where philosophers emphasize working with scientists, engineers, and policy makers rather than an extensive focus on writing and working with other philosophers.
An academic discipline or academic field is a subdivision of knowledge that is taught and researched at the college or university level. Disciplines are defined, and recognized by the academic journals in which research is published, and the learned societies and academic departments or faculties within colleges and universities to which their practitioners belong. It includes language, art and cultural studies and other scientific disciplines.
Sustainability science emerged in the 21st century as a new academic discipline. This new field of science was officially introduced with a "Birth Statement" at the World Congress "Challenges of a Changing Earth 2001" in Amsterdam organized by the International Council for Science (ICSU), the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change and the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP). The field reflects a desire to give the generalities and broad-based approach of "sustainability" a stronger analytic and scientific underpinning as it "brings together scholarship and practice, global and local perspectives from north and south, and disciplines across the natural and social sciences, engineering, and medicine". Ecologist William C. Clark proposes that it can be usefully thought of as "neither 'basic' nor 'applied' research but as a field defined by the problems it addresses rather than by the disciplines it employs" and that it "serves the need for advancing both knowledge and action by creating a dynamic bridge between the two".
Sociology is the study of society, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture that surrounds everyday life. It is a social science that uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about social order and social change. Sociology can also be defined as the general science of society. While some sociologists conduct research that may be applied directly to social policy and welfare, others focus primarily on refining the theoretical understanding of social processes. Subject matter can range from micro-level analyses of society to macro-level analyses.
Leadership studies is a multidisciplinary academic field of study that focuses on leadership in organizational contexts and in human life. Leadership studies has origins in the social sciences, in humanities, as well as in professional and applied fields of study. The field of leadership studies is closely linked to the field of organizational studies.
The science of team science (SciTS) field encompasses both conceptual and methodological strategies aimed at understanding and enhancing the processes and outcomes of collaborative, team-based research. It is useful to distinguish between team science (TS) initiatives and the science of team science (SciTS) field. Team science initiatives are designed to promote collaborative, and often cross-disciplinary approaches to answering research questions about particular phenomena. The SciTS field, on the other hand, is concerned with understanding and managing circumstances that facilitate or hinder the effectiveness of collaborative science, and evaluating the outcomes of collaborative science. Its principal units of analysis are the research, training, and community-based translational initiatives implemented by both public and private sector organizations.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Interdisciplinary fields .|