Just Say No to the Fetish of Interdisciplinarity?

Jerry Jacobs, a Penn professor, is the kind of smart guy who I find worth listening to even when my first impression of what he is up to is negative. In his new book, In Defense of Disciplines: Interdisciplinarity and Specialization in the Research University (University of Chicago Press), he marshals evidence and analysis to question the contemporary enthusiasm for all things interdisciplinary. He counsels skepticism and questions whether fields that are most open to external ideas are in fact the most intellectually dynamic. 

Perhaps most relevant to the small college ecosystem is his argument that erasing disciplinary boundaries is more a organizational strategy than an intellectual one. It often involves ceding control from faculty to administration over budgets, hiring, and curriculum; it is a manifestation of the managerial ideology prevalent in higher education rather simply an idea whose time has come. 

From Inside Higher Ed

Author: Dan Ryan

I'm currently an Academic Program Director at MinervaProject.com. I've been a professor at University of Toronto, University of Southern California, and Mills College teaching things like human centered design, computational thinking, modeling for policy sciences, and social theory. I'm driven by the desire to figure out how to teach twice as many twice as well twice as easily.

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