Being Introduced to Interdisciplinary Studies
My final reflection for IS 2222 Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies at Plymouth State University.
At the beginning of my Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies course, I thought I knew what I was getting myself into. I knew that the course was where I would create my own major, by combining two or more different disciplines to create my own studies. To be honest, I felt this class would be a breeze, considering I had already build my major almost a year previously. I was ambitious and excited to make my path final- and start learning what would be in my major. But the truth was, I did not have any idea what I was getting myself into, because I did not know the true meaning of Interdisciplinary Studies. Luckily, I do now.
If on day one of taking this course I had been asked to define interdisciplinary studies, I would have probably said “it’s taking two or more majors and combining them into one.” Although I was on the right track, interdisciplinary studies is so much more than combining majors into a new one. Interdisciplinary studies is about taking control of your own learning. Interdisciplinary studies is about not only learning, but about how to learn. Interdisciplinary studies is about taking a situation and looking at it from all kinds of different perspectives in order to get the most useful ideas. Interdisciplinary Studies is so many things, but most importantly, Interdisciplinary Studies is absolutely essential.
Throughout the course, we have used Allen F. Repko’s book Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies, to get a good understanding of the field. Based on all my studies, my definition of interdisciplinary studies is studying multiple disciplines and their connections, in order to address topics from multiple different perspectives. For example, by using an interdisciplinary approach of studying education and health, you can use your knowledge of health to benefit your educational goals, as well as use your knowledge and experience of education, in tackling matter of health. Interdisciplinarity offers the ability to speak outside of one perspective of knowledge, and into another in order to create a more well-round way of thinking, problem-solving, and growing.
The title of my Interdisciplinary Studies degree in The Performing Arts for Community Empowerment. This degree allows me to study the positive effects that music, theatre, and dance have in terms of community outreach, education, and empowerment- on both micro and macro-levels. At the micro-level, the performing arts can help individuals in many different ways including providing an outlet for self-expression, help build personal self-esteem, and even provide a style of learning that could best suit a particular child. On a macro-level, the performing arts can also have a positive benefit on a community. Music, theatre, and dance all have many beneficial qualities that affect communities such as bringing people together, helping people remember things, and getting across feelings or emotions. Because of these attributes, the performing arts can have a positive impact on community outreach efforts, education, etc. In many communities as well, the performing arts can be a tool to advocate for Social Justice. My program is interdisciplinary because it uses lots of different perspectives and outlooks in order to get the best understanding of how to help me achieve my goal- helping others through the performing arts. By combining multiple courses from multiple disciplines, I will have an overall better understanding of the different impacts that music, theatre, and dance can have on social situations.
CC: University of New Hampshire’s Little Red Wagon
One specific theory that we have talked about that directly corresponds with my major is the Complexity Theory. The Complexity Theory is the combination of two or more disciplines that have unique connections, oftentimes unexpectedly. The disciplines that I have combined are the performing arts (music, theatre, and dance) and the social disciplines (social work, social justice, education, etc.) Now looking at those disciplines, you might not see any connections whatsoever. However, the more you study them, the more connections you see between them. For example, music (whether it be through singing, playing an instrument, or even just listening to it) naturally has qualities that improve memory, assist in empowerment, and reduce stress. By using in interdisciplinary approach, you are able to identify those benefits, and use them towards providing social success. A few examples would be using a song in an education setting to improve academic success or performing a song to help a client break through an emotion barrier. The possibilities are truly endless.
My number one goal for the future is simple. I want to be constantly helping other people, and making a difference through the performing arts. I would love to work with youth members on an empowerment-based program through the Musical Theatre. I would love to use performance to advocate for Social Justice. I would love to become a teacher and help students identify with their material through song and dance. I would love to do so many things, and luckily with my Interdisciplinary Studies knowledge, my future is not unreachable.
Photo: Public Domain
My hope for the future of Interdisciplinary Studies is that the future IS Interdisciplinary Studies. By studying this field, I have learned more about knowledge as a whole then I ever thought possible. By studying just one discipline, it is truly impossible to see all of the opportunities that that discipline can have. An interdisciplinarian knows that there is never an end point to knowledge. There is always another perspective to view something from. There is always a nothing side of the story to explore. There is always room for more knowledge and growth. Knowing this, I urge all high schools, universities, and even every single student to take responsibility for their own education, and learn about interdisciplinary studies. My hope for the future is that Interdisciplinary Studies will no longer be seen as a new and interesting field, but a key concept in learning and obtaining knowledge- in the formal school setting as well as every day in real life.
Well, Interdisciplinary Studies, thank you for introducing yourself to me, and I promise to never be a stranger.
A huge thank you to Robin DeRosa, the professor of IS 2222 Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies. You have truly inspired me. Thank you for showing me the light that is Interdisciplinary Studies.