What’s The Deal With Interdisciplinarity?

CC BY-ND 2.0 Paul Lim https://flic.kr/p/bKRKL

In today’s society and culture, knowledge is being pigeonholed. Every area of study is being shoved into its own space, causing people to focus on one aspect and seldom others. This very reason is why I chose to pursue a degree of Mental Health Studies with the interdisciplinary studies program at PSU. I felt that to get the best out of my four years, I should study what I want and how I want to; which wasn’t going to be accomplished by picking one of the pre-approved majors offered. I liked the idea of being able to decide exactly what I’m doing with my education and be part of the process of developing it.

CC BY-ND 2.0 Kevin Cortopassi https://flic.kr/p/prWEje


In the article “Ten Cheers for Interdisciplinarity”, author Moti Nissani writes, “those who stop at the disciplinary edge run the risk of tunnel vision.” Interdisciplinarity facilitates avoidance of this risk. By broadening our educational scope and expanding on small areas of knowledge, we can get away from tunnel vision and work to unify our knowledge. Interdisciplinarity will prove its immense worth to me when I purse a career concerning mental health. Studying mental health through an interdisciplinary approach can provide for a deeper understanding of all that mental health encompasses.


The time I’ve spent, so far, exploring the meaning and benefits of interdisciplinary learning has given me so much more than I anticipated. I never really took the time to understand the best way to learn. I just did what the people in charge told me to and relied on what I knew other people had done. Interdisciplinary studies, has opened a world of information that I had no idea about. It has shown me how compartmentalized our knowledge really is and how important it is to include other areas of study, aside from our specialties.

CC BY-ND 2.0 Joris Louwes https://flic.kr/p/ZhBexb


It’s also shown me how much a field of work might rely on another. It makes me think of my mom’s career. She is a resource specialist at an elementary school. She doesn’t know if she should test a child until another teacher prompts her. Then after testing she needs to report her findings to the parents and help them to find the best course of action to help their child. If they decide that’s going to see a doctor then we see the reliance of the teacher on the doctor to understand any physical implications the child’s disorder may have on the child. At that point, the doctor might refer the child to a psychologist, who then may refer the child to a behavioral specialist and so on. This need for interdisciplinary work is shown because the teacher cannot officially diagnose the student, and the doctor can’t help much with behavioral strategies. These lines of reliance can be analyzed in many careers, but are only realized if you take some time to think about how important it is to work with other people who aren’t in your designated field.



CC BY-NC 2.0 Philippa Willitts https://flic.kr/p/9Qexfo

The article “Colleges Should Reconstruct the Unity of Knowledge” by Vartan Gregorian, gives another example of this type of reliance pattern. A technical problem of transportation, such as the building of a freeway, becomes a land-use problem, linked with economic, environmental, conservation, ethical, and political issues. Can we really draw a boundary? When we ask to improve a situation, particularly if it is a public one, we find ourselves facing not a problem, but a cluster of problems … and none of these problems can be tackled using linear or sequential methods.” Without consulting people who have extensive knowledge in these areas, our decisions and actions may have disastrous repercussions, that could’ve been avoided had we opened our eyes to the importance of unity of knowledge.


One Reply to “What’s The Deal With Interdisciplinarity?”

  1. I love the way the images you choose guide me through the post and involve me in your arguments, and I also love th eway you blend personal anecdotes (the story about your mom was terrific) with your reading of leading interdisciplinarians like Gregorian and Nissani. And I of course love the way you link your emerging sense of agency around your studies with your interests in making connections between different knowledge domains. So much going on here, and it gives me so much to chew on!

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