My Semester in Intro to Interdisciplinary Studies

When I enrolled at Plymouth State, my first thought of a major was Business Administration.  I thought that related to my prior career in the military, and would be a sure fit for my experience and the best way to utilize my transfer credits effectively.  It was during a meeting with Admissions, that I first heard of Interdisciplinary Studies (IDS).  After that meeting, I scheduled an appointment with Program Director, Dr. Robin DeRosa to learn more about IDS.

I have to admit, that first meeting with Dr. DeRosa left me so excited my head was spinning.  Mostly because I had no idea (or a very vague one at best) what she was talking about.  She looked over my transfer credits, gave me a very positive endorsement, “YES, this is a good path for you”;  she even gave me an override to allow me to enroll in her upcoming Fall semester.   I was on my way to an IDS major… woo hoo!

I did not know what to expect in Interdisciplinary Studies, as this was my first time in a classroom in YEARS.   I thought perhaps it would be more independent learning, but I really wasn’t sure.  I did know that my heart was in it 100%, and this was something I really wanted to do, I was fully committed and I was ready!

There were many steps throughout the semester, but one thing I can say is I got constant support and feedback from Dr. DeRosa.  Her guidance included recommendations for advisors, feedback on my writing (mostly good, with some additional suggestions), and an excellent course that challenged me outside my comfort zone.  I gained a wealth of knowledge, and my technology skills grew tenfold.

photo by Zack Lee Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The class is a learning and networking experience, utilizing our fellow peers, establishing a Personal Learning Network, and best of all it’s all Open-Ed.  There are no printed textbooks, everything is online, which we take part in writing, editing and giving feedback on.   This is Interdisciplinary Studies at its finest.

The class dynamics is a great mix of students pursuing studies in a myriad of different fields.  In our class, we had students with health and wellness, sports, social services, graphic design, science, and administration backgrounds.  When peer to peer review was at work, that brought interdisciplinary skills instantly to the equation.  Using the analogy from “The Big Terms” we were a fruit bowl of skills (multidisciplinary) and experience which came together to offer a fruit smoothie (interdisciplinary) in group dynamics.  The opportunity for each of us to pursue an education that was relevant to our interests, our experiences, and put the control of our education on us, is powerful.

We must also help students gain knowledge of multiple disciplines and their interconnectedness. Team teaching is one obvious way to do that. “……”Within disciplines, of course, teaching should encourage students to draw knowledge together from many sources.”    Vartan Gregorian, Colleges Should Reconstruct the Unity of Knowledge.

While the semester progressed, and more of my own friends and family asked me about school and my major, I was surprised to hear how many of them have an Interdisciplinary Studies major themselves.  I guess when a program has been around since 1974, you should realize that it’s had a broad reach on people.  I’m happy to hear that IDS is growing and gaining popularity here on campus too.  Enrollments have increased the past few years, specifically noting a change from an average of 10.1 enrolled majors from 1974-2014, to currently having 123 enrollments in IDS majors.  Clearly, Interdisciplinary Studies is a valuable route to education that invests in people and their future; and is beneficial for PSU and universities as a whole.

My goal of completing my undergrad is getting close.  I have approximately 9 classes remaining until graduation, which I anticipate Fall 2018.  I plan to use my skills through volunteerism and community support.  I’m enjoying school so much, I’m actually considering going for grad school; but I will cross that bridge when I get over this one….(smile)…  my very own “Charlie’s Bridge”.   (Charlie’s Bridge is the name of my eport, and a very special place within my community / home).

4 thoughts on “My Semester in Intro to Interdisciplinary Studies”

  1. I loved the ending to your post! I think the personal touch makes this post truly meaningful and gives it life. You can tell that you are not only passionate about this piece of writing, but passionate about school, PSU, and IDS. I think you touched on some really great ideas and concepts that were covered throughout the semester such as the fruit bowl and smoothie analogies and the increased use of technology. Great work and good luck as you finish your undergraduate degree!

  2. I related to this post in that I had no idea what Interdisciplinary Studies was when it was suggested to me, and I still didn’t really understand after meeting with Robin the first time. I was also very excited, and I am starting to really enjoy the educational path I have taken here at PSU. I am hoping the IDS program continues to grow in popularity so students have the opportunity to create their own majors and learn how they want to learn. I will end by saying great post, and good luck with whatever you decide to do in the future!

  3. great post! I think it’s great how easily you were able to create a cohesive program with your military background and transfer credits into a passionately created major that is getting you to where you want to be.

  4. I have to say, I started with a laugh here since I am sure people often have no idea what I am talking about!! And somehow I lost track of the fact that you are SO CLOSE to finishing. What an epic triumph!

    You have been so very helpful to me as I think about how to craft programs to accommodate smart, motivated, nontraditional learners. You have such an open mind and an enthusiastic attitude, and I wish you would be in every class I will teach from now on! Great to have you on board, and I hope to see you studying in the office this Spring so we stay connected! <3

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