Possibilities of the Program

This article an issue of Liberal Education depicts the author’s fear of interdisciplinary studies leading to its own demise. The author, Ethan Kleinberg, discusses how several interdisciplinary programs eventually became disciplines themselves, such as Women’s Studies and African American studies. These interdisciplinary programs becoming university programs added are examples of options at universities expanding, but what the author fears are programs being replaced altogether. Certain interdisciplinary studies programs get their own colleges within universities, get staff and students teaching it, and it becomes a discipline itself within the university. The author fears that this would cause interdisciplinary to just rearrange the disciplines of colleges rather than being a connection across disciplines.

CC BY-NC-SA John Martin https://flic.kr/p/5YQWr9

Kleinberg uses two models on how he sees interdisciplinary should be in education to prevent this from happening. The first model is at Wesleyan University, they have a College of Letters which is an interdisciplinary program that takes advantage of the multidisciplinary concept of having different professors from different fields teach the disciplines that make up the program rather than making the program a new discipline. The other model is that disciplines come together on a specific issue with a particular combination of areas of study rather than creating a whole ‘nother program to be offered by the college.

Personally, I find this outlook on interdisciplinary studies interesting, because the program can be used for all three of the above examples. What I mean is, it can be used to create another discipline like Women’s Studies. And also a multidisciplinary program as well as an interdisciplinary program to solve an issue. I’m personally trying to create my version of programs that were previously offered at this school and ones that exist at other schools. I’m excited for the next the years and live out the plan I’ve constructed in this class as I’m sure other members are excited to carry out their programs, whether it’s multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, or a possible new discipline altogether.


Education, Liberal. “Interdisciplinary Studies at a Crossroads.” Association of American Colleges & Universities. N.p., 30 Dec. 2014. Web. 16 Apr. 2017.

One thought on “Possibilities of the Program”

  1. I absolutely love this Kleinberg piece because it adds something new to the conversation. I always think about the pros and cons of what it means to develop a major, a department, a program in IDS: how can we keep our identity as outside of and among all disciplines, while still making sure we have the resources and focus we need to assure a quality student experience? Glad you picked this one, and I like your own discussion and perspective at the end there!

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