Unboxing Education- Why Interdisciplinary Studies in Education Matters

“Music, theatre, and dance have always been such an important part of my life, how can I give that up?” I thought, while brushing the dust from the floor of the Studio Theater off my costume. It was during the first day of technical rehearsal for PSU’s The Threepenny Opera that I really struggled with my educational path.

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The cast of PSU’s The Threepenny Opera     Photo by JEM Photography

During my adolescence, music, theatre, and dance helped transform me from a shy and unconfident student, to a person proud to share who they really are with the world. Through the performing arts, I was able to learn how to express myself, gain self-confidence, trust, and become empowered, allowing me to be the person I am today. This passion that I found for the performing arts carried me all the way to college, starting as a Musical Theater major.

During my first year and a half, I started to feel as though the passion I once had was no longer there. I realized that the intense passion I had felt, wasn’t for performing itself, but for the incredible skills and empowerment I had found through the arts. At that moment, I knew that was what I wanted to do; I wanted to empower others through music, theatre, and dance, just as it had empowered me.

However, I knew that was not an option as a major on campus. So there I was, still sitting on the floor, waiting for the stage manager to call the next cue, wondering how I was ever going to choose between the performing arts and empowering others. I felt it was unfair that I had to put my education into a box that best suited what I wanted it to be. Then, I found Interdisciplinary Studies, and was encouraged to break down the boxes, and create my own shape.

Interdisciplinary Studies is about putting education into the hands of the students. It’s about trusting that the students know best about their educational goals and desires. I am hopeful that no student will ever feel as I did sitting on the floor in the Studio Theatre that day. I hope that no one will ever have to consider putting their education into a box again.

There are millions of ways someone can create their education through Interdisciplinary Studies, and every single way would be uniquely different and useful. Why would anyone want to limit those ways? Why would anyone want to generalize their education into someone else’s boxes? If everyone created their own major through Interdisciplinary Studies, how much more diverse would our cultivation of knowledge be?

In my Interdisciplinary Studies Senior Seminar, there are 23 students, each with individually designed, unique majors. Each student will be graduating with a body of knowledge unlike any other, with unique information and skills that will be brought into the world. Plymouth State University offers approximately 80 majors outside of the Interdisciplinary Studies department. That means that out of all the majors being studied across the university, the amount of those in the Spring 2017 Interdisciplinary Studies Senior Seminar is equal to over 25% of all the other majors offered at Plymouth State University.

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CC: Lava 360

In a world that’s constantly growing and changing, we need the multitude of diverse knowledge that Interdisciplinary Studies
offers. Interdisciplinary Studies will continue to provide a broad range of knowledge to our society. And I truly believe, a world with less boxes makes for a much more beautiful shape. It surely did for me.

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