Interdisciplinary Studies

I feel like I had a pretty accurate idea of what interdisciplinarity is going into this. However, I was not expecting the extensiveness of the program. I learned that intermingling various learned skills to apply a new layer of understanding to a problem is categorized differently than having multiple disciplines that stay within each field. During my time here I was taking psychology classes and when I thought about my future and the psychology thesis, it just didn’t appeal to me at all. Getting the degree conflict notice on classes I wanted to sign up for was frustrating, so I started taking gen eds that sounded interesting that were not getting me anywhere. I wish I could remember who gave me the information about the interdisciplinary studies program but I owe them a bit of gratitude because it is exactly what I needed. I am pretty invested in this town and have many friends that are like family, so being able to build my dream program that lets me stay with my family is a level of serendipity I don’t think I can expect again in my life. I want to know everything. I want to know enough about everything to weave seamlessly through processes and contribute helpful information from a unique perspective. I use my tools to solve problems.

I waffle on being nervous about hirablility and job titling. Looking at many engineering firms offering employment to interns or junior assistants makes me feel like there is not room for my new skill set or that they will not be interested in hiring someone who is not fully and traditionally educated. I also have been talking to engineers I know and all of them say they have a hard time communicating between departments. A mentor of mine is a mechanical engineer and he told me just the other day that the people in his department will intentionally make their design ugly and not user friendly to give the design people a hard time. We talked about this department interaction while he and I looked at a panel of my car that had snapped off.  We then went over either using a chemical epoxy and temporary clamp or a small screw to fix the panel.

The usefulness of interdisciplinarity varies between individuals. This path is entirely goal driven. If one’s goal is to become the best specialist in the area, an interdisciplinary degree probably won’t suit their needs. That being said, the ability to seek all kinds of information regardless of specialty has an innumerable amount of value. Multilateral thinking allows pathways to creative solutions from highly sensitive issues that span from individuals to the world. There are no easy answers to any worthwhile question, especially when the questions involve the quality of life of vulnerable people. Interdisciplinarity is so important to have when dealing with these wicked problems, to have so many skills and experiences will allow further understanding. I wish so much that those with the most control over society had more interdisciplinary skills. It is one thing to study history, but the ideal intersidciplinarian would understand the psychology of leaders, the mechanics of industry, and the balance of power and then be able to apply this information to current socio political goings-on.

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2 Replies to “Interdisciplinary Studies”

  1. I can relate deeply to your gratitude in being able continue your education here. I had the same issue when I felt as though I did not fit into any of the already offered majors. I wanted to stay with the people and environment here at Plymouth, but felt lost until I found the interdisciplinary program.

  2. This sentence seems to hit the nail on the head for me: “Multilateral thinking allows pathways to creative solutions from highly sensitive issues that span from individuals to the world.” When I think about the methods for problem-solving that work best in the world, especially a world facing so many complexes challenges as you note, I think the interdisciplinary lenses will be so helpful. Even so, in IDS it is the rare student who spans the fine arts and hard sciences, and I think the way you are working to merge design thinking, creativity, art, science, and other fields make you so unique. I think much will depend on the quality of the research and projects that you produce in your time here, so that employers and graduate schools will be able to understand what you are bringing to the table. I can’t wait to see what you create in your remaining time here!

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