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ERIC Number: EJ790435
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0024-1822
Interdisciplinary Studies at a Crossroads
Kleinberg, Ethan
Liberal Education, v94 n1 p6-11 Win 2008
In today's competitive college market, "interdisciplinary studies" are a major selling point for colleges and universities. Yet, on closer examination, it is apparent that the academic structure and place of the majority of interdisciplinary programs, departments, and centers are not substantially different from the academic disciplines, departments, and divisions they were originally designed to challenge. The shift to university-as-service-industry has led to a need for increased specialization to provide specific marketable skills or sites of interests that can attract the student/customer. This most cynical reading sees institutional support for interdisciplinary studies as an attempt to create and foster niche markets. Furthermore, in striking this deal, interdisciplinary studies became complicit, if not responsible, for the fragmentation of the university into a series of localized specializations isolated from, and in competition with, one another to attract niche customers/students. Thus the interdisciplinary departments, programs, and centers found willing partners but at a price: their interdisciplinarity. Far from marking the dawn of an interdisciplinary era, this pact with the devil has marked the end of real interdisciplinarity. Is the very success of interdisciplinary studies leading to its demise? And are they displacing and discrediting the traditional disciplines along the way? Not yet, but these are real and pressing possibilities. In this article, the author proposes to take the threat seriously and use these questions as a springboard to think through the past, present, and future of interdisciplinary studies in an attempt to find productive and substantive ways for it to work and flourish within the current university system. The author suggests that everyone should work to usher in an era when interdisciplinary departments, programs, and centers do not supplant or replace the traditional disciplines but serve instead to create pathways and intersections, bringing faculty and students together for the common endeavor of intellectual exchange.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A