The Value of Interdisciplinary Education

Our planet presents complex problems, including those that require collaboration by experts from diverse subject areas. But in the world of higher ed, it's often the case that academic disciplines are sharply divided with little communication occurring across departments. This situation has left many to wonder what we may be missing out on. Schools offering Interdisciplinary Studies degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

interdisciplinary studies

A Systemic Problem

Colleges and universities bring together the best and the brightest minds from each generation. Particularly in research institutions, academia is responsible for bringing about some of the most important innovations to be introduced to our world. From remedies for disease to technological advances that transform modern life, researchers at institutions of higher ed have a large role to play societal progress.

Many believe, however, that the strides that are being made in all areas of thought and science are marginal compared to what could be possible with a greater emphasis on interdisciplinary work on the part of scholars. Critics observe that in many universities there is little communication across disciplinary boundaries, leaving academicians from various departments isolated in their perspectives.

interdisciplinary studies

Understanding the Divide

While interdisciplinary studies have been a focus for select institutions in recent years, significant barriers can allow the isolation between academic departments to continue. For example, often an academic field's conception of a particular issue may incorporate terms or theories that are incompatible with the way another department understands issues.

There are also structural barriers; the current divisions between colleges and departments at most American institutions are designed to foster internal communication between students and teachers, but the system does not provide for prescribed methods in which experts from different disciplines can collaborate. Add to this the very real issue that departments are often working directly against other departments to compete for resources that will allow continued research and faculty funding.

interdisciplinary studies

Moving Forward

Despite the challenges, higher ed observers suggest that there can be a very tangible benefit for those universities making an effort to promote interdisciplinary studies among their scholars. Not only can faculty members and students develop a more comprehensive understanding of important issues that are by their nature interdisciplinary, but academicians can also be pioneers of innovation and providers of solutions to global problems.

Some institutions of higher learning are making strides to foster cross-department communication in innovative ways. Many schools feature interdisciplinary departments and degree options that incorporate material from across the humanities and sciences. Other schools have introduced initiatives to create an environment that better enables scholars to interact with colleagues from other disciplines.

Given the potential benefits of fostering these interdisciplinary connections, efforts to promote them are likely to continue at schools intent on positively impacting our 21st century world.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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  • Johns Hopkins University

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  • Kaplan University

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  • Saint Leo University

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  • Ashford University

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  • Regent University

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  • Southern New Hampshire University

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  • Utica College

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  • Penn Foster High School

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  • Abilene Christian University

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  • Central Christian College of Kansas

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