3. Why Should Educators Take an Interdisciplinary Approach?

Entrenched social, medical and scientific problems require interdisciplinary creative teams working together to find non-routine solutions.

What is Interdisciplinarity, and Why is the Artistic Lens so Important?

Placing the Arts at the Heart of the Creative Campus, a paper by Alan S. Brown and Steven J. Tepper, Ph.D, takes stock of the Creative Campus Innovations Grant Program, a six-year, $3.5 million grant initiative administered by the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, the national service organization for performing arts presenters, with funding support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The overall goal of the program was to support exemplary campus-based performing arts presenters in developing programs and strategies beyond conventional practice that integrate their work across the academy, with the ultimate goal of elevating the role of the arts in academic life.

Within the academy, there is a growing awareness of the need to rethink our approach to knowledge and creativity. Many believe that academic and intellectual silos are simply not up to the task of meeting and addressing the pressing economic, social, and scientific challenges we face. The creativity and innovation necessary to solve non-routine problems requires interdisciplinarity. Moreover, new technologies drive opportunities for exchange across disciplines that were not possible in the past. And, student learning and engagement thrive when teaching is organized around student interests and real world problems rather than narrow disciplinary perspectives.

Read the section about interdisciplinarity ›

Engaging Campus Partners – an example from Montclair State University

The core campus partners at Montclair State University were the Office of Arts and Cultural Programming (ACP) and the Research Academy for University Learning (RAUL). Under the banner Peak Performances, ACP provides a place for innovative artists to create and present works across multiple disciplines. Artists include established and up-and-coming creators on a national and international level, as well as members from the College of the Arts. ACP’s role in the project was to identify and support the artists collaborating on the project, to spearhead project-related marketing and communications, and to provide administrative and documentation support during course development.

Read about the partners and process lessons ›

Art as a Catalyst to Integrate Art & Science – an example from Wesleyan University

Involving intense interdisciplinary collaboration around a common objective or theme.

Feet to the Fire is a major undertaking on Wesleyan’s campus using art as a catalyst to examine critical environmental issues through multiple lenses, from science to art. This program is dedicated to the proposition that a multidisciplinary examination that includes art will provide a more comprehensive and deeper understanding of these global issues.

Feet to the Fire is a major undertaking on Wesleyan’s campus to examine critical environmental issues through multiple lenses, from science to art.

Learn more about the Feet to the Fire program ›