Complex world problems require the coming together of multiple areas of expertise. As a result interdisciplinary collaborations are increasingly a vital characteristic of excellence in research. Intricate global issues also require a workforce which can combine depth of discipline knowledge with a broad experience of other disciplines’ perspectives and insights.
This page considers the definition of interdisciplinarity and considers the benefits and challenges of interdisciplinary learning. Examples of interdisciplinary collaborations are offered as food for thought.
Davis and Devlin (2007) explain the differences between:
Benefits of interdisciplinary teaching and learning contexts include that:
Interdisciplinary teaching and learning collaborations present challenges to staff and students:
Grosskinsky, (2008, p5) asserts that “interdisciplinarity in education should be focused at the postgraduate and research stage”. Across Queen’s this argument is reflected in interdisciplinarity and multidisciplinarity being an increasing characteristic of postgraduate programmes and research collaborations.
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University of Aberdeen has recently engaged in extensive curriculum reform. One outcome has been to offer undergraduates increased choice through multi-disciplinary options throughout their degree programme. http://www.abdn.ac.uk/thedifference/background.php
University of Melbourne has also undertaken extensive curriculum review leading to the Melbourne Model. Within this model are interdisciplinary opportunities for undergraduate students within the six New Generation degrees.
Grosskinsky,S. (2008) ‘Interdisciplinarity in higher education: A case study of the Complexity Science DTC at Warwick’, University of Warwick, Coventry.
Holley, K. (2009) ‘The challenge of an interdisciplinary curriculum: a cultural analysis of a doctoral-degree program in neuroscience’, Higher Education, 58, pp 241-255.
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