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Vignette 9 Interdisciplinary scholarship for novice students

Interdisciplinary Higher Education: Perspectives and Practicalities

ISBN: 978-0-85724-371-3, eISBN: 978-0-85724-372-0

Publication date: 8 November 2010


Some scholars believe that students should achieve discipline-specific competence before attempting an interdisciplinary synthesis of knowledge. Furthermore, one of the often-cited downsides of interdisciplinary scholarship is its lack of identity with, and consequently its failure to benefit from, membership of a discipline. Monash and Flinders universities have challenged that perspective by introducing interdisciplinary programmes to novice biotechnology undergraduates in their first semester of tertiary study. The lack of knowledge in the various disciplines presents significant pedagogical challenges. However, the programmes have the benefit of developing the professional identity of the students as biotechnologists and, additionally, through exploration of contexts, can help students understand why they study some disciplines: chemistry being one example. Both programmes use the interdisciplinarity of authentic cases to provide a framework for students to explore particular discipline issues and their interrelationships. The success of these programmes in creating identity reflects their focus beyond the internal and external boundaries of the university.


Brack, C., Schmidt, L. and MacKinnon, P. (2010), "Vignette 9 Interdisciplinary scholarship for novice students", Davies, M., Devlin, M. and Tight, M. (Ed.) Interdisciplinary Higher Education: Perspectives and Practicalities (International Perspectives on Higher Education Research, Vol. 5), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 239-253.



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