As the semester is coming to a close, I want to take the time to analyze and review my Introduction to Interdisciplinary course, as well as my experience being a new Interdisciplinary Studies (IDS) major. In the beginning, I honestly had no idea what to expect from this course or from the program in general. I was going into my senior year after freshly being dropped from the Nursing program and quite literally panicking about my future. When I was first introduced to the Interdisciplinary Studies program I was desperately searching for answers as to what my future would hold and ultimately took a leap of faith. I had very high hopes for the introduction course, I thought that it would expand my knowledge on what “Interdisciplinarity” even was, since I wasn’t entirely sure, while guiding me in the right direction as I build a program related to the healthcare field, specifically Patient Advocacy, that would work as a bridge for furthering my education after I graduated. Thankfully, this course and program did exactly that and I am eternally grateful for all of the support I have received thus far.
Referring back to the definition of “Interdisciplinarity”, I had a very faint idea because I had previously discussed the program with an IDS alum but I knew that I had a lot more to learn. What I did know was that it gave me the ability to take all of my previous courses from Nursing and combine it with other courses to make a program that the school didn’t offer. Over the course of the semester, I realized that “Interdisciplinarity” was so much more than that. According to The Big Terms, an article found in Interdisciplinary Studies: A Connected Learning Approach, the textbook for the course that happens to be an open educational resource, written and compiled by Robin DeRosa, Interdisciplinarity “incorporates several fields of study to allow collaboration among diverse disciplines to either specify or broaden students’ education, to gain understanding, and/or to problem solve.” Therefore, it is a more integrative approach to learning, it is more than just compiling some courses that relate to a field. Overall, it is an innovative type of learning and has been truly life-changing, the course itself was always relevant and pertained to my IDS program or future plans in one way or another.
Looking back, I can think of many examples of concepts that we covered in the course that relate to my plans. One of these concepts comes from the beginning of the semester when we had to read a few articles pertaining to having our own domain and learned about Personal Learning Networks (PLN). In the article, The Web We Need to Give Students, Audrey Watters weighs on the issues of student privacy in the education system and the lack of student voices that are heard on the matter. She mentions something known as The Domain Initiative, which I discussed in an earlier post, where universities are assisting and promoting students to build their own domain where they can document their education, expand on ideas, be creative, upload work for sharing and safe keeping, and have somewhat of a digital portfolio to showcase. I found this entire concept to be beneficial because we ended up putting it into action, I now have this website that allows me to post about my education, and I also have a PLN through Twitter that is allowing me to connect with others in my field. It all ties together and relates back to my future plans and major because I believe it is essential to keep in contact and connect with others within the branches of my field. It is important to be able to collaborate with others within your field so that you can expand your knowledge and even bounce ideas off of each other. Going forward, these resources will allow me to continue to connect and post about my education and career.
Another concept we covered that relates back to my own IDS major and plans for the future comes from the article The Challenges of Doing Interdisciplinary Work by Janina Misiewicz, in this, Misiewicz discusses five barriers of interdisciplinarity, which include attitude, communication, academic structure, funding, and career development. She also mentions the “10,000 hour rule”, which is how long it takes for a person to become a master in any field. Due to the collaboration and smoothie-like nature of interdisciplinary studies, it is safe to say that many that take this route will never become masters of anything, but instead a jack of all trades. Considering that I am officially an IDS major I am going to experience many of these challenges not only throughout the rest of my time here at Plymouth State, but also in my career in general. Throughout the semester, it has become obvious that not many people in the world understand the concept of interdisciplinary studies, and quite often, I am met with restraint and discouragement when I share my major and career goals with others. Although, I feel it is important to keep in mind that all fields have their own struggles and challenges that they must face and I am not worried at all about my future and this career path that I am on. These challenges just mean that I may have to do a little bit more explaining along the way.
After mentioning the challenges, it is only fair to mention the substantial amount of benefits of being on the interdisciplinary path. In one of the articles we reviewed this semester, called The Benefits and Challenges of Interdisciplinary, Misiewicz outlines the problems facing specialized education, and discusses the benefits and challenges of interdisciplinary studies in education and in the workplace. This article states that “over the past few decades, with the advent of the technological revolution, the negative consequences of a specialized education are becoming more apparent, demonstrating that graduates need more than one kind of skill if they want to compete in todays’ job market.” Luckily for me, my major of Patient Advocacy combines many branches including communication studies, nursing, psychology, social work, and health and human performance. Therefore, I have developed a wide variety of skills that make me look more desirable for employers. In addition, pursuing interdisciplinary studies versus a single degree, has allowed me to challenge myself with different perspectives of a handful of different disciplines. As the article states, “by challenging themselves with a variety of educational experiences, interdisciplinary students become better critical thinkers, gain more self-awareness, and grow more confident in the way their brains work and who they are as people.” Overall, this type of program is going to help me look more flexible compared to if I studied a single degree, which is going to look great for employers and help me in the long run with my career. Not only is this concept related to my future plans and career, but it also highlights why interdisciplinarity matters to universities and the world as a whole.
Thinking about my future, as well as the future of IDS at Plymouth State and beyond, I have high hopes. For one, I am hoping that this IDS path that I have chosen will make me a well-rounded individual and allow me to have a better understanding of my career as a Patient Advocate. In addition, I hope that all of the skills that I have developed will help me in masters’ school, since I plan on pursuing a Social Work degree so that I can eventually practice as a hospice and palliative social worker or wherever else my heart takes me. I hope that the Plymouth State IDS program continues to thrive and assist students in finding their place in the world, like it did for me. Lastly, I hope that the world starts to become more interdisciplinary in nature, that people will become more aware of the benefits and be more accepting and open minded. If the world had a more interdisciplinary view, I believe that there would be less problems and we would be able to combat many of the pressing issues we face today.