2011 Working Groups:
A. Beyond the Essay: Exploring alternate communication mediums in
Marta Sadkowski and Julia Zisser
For many university students, course work is limited to written forms of communication. The use of visual art, music, or drama is generally not encouraged in most disciplines. This working group will investigate the value of such “alternate communication mediums” in interdisciplinary education. In particular, we wish to explore the unique ways in which visual art, music, can be used to present information across different disciplines. Discussions will focus on identifying the pros and cons as well as the feasibility of substituting written coursework with alternate forms of communication.
B. Literary Appreciation and Creative Writing as Elements of Critical Thinking Success
Anqi Shen, Meg Peters, Nicole Gamble
The intellectual value (and opportunity to develop critical thinking skills) derived from the appreciation of literary fiction is often underestimated in fields not directly related to literature. Our working group will focus on the intrinsic value of literary writing and the role of creativity and critical thinking in student success. We will also be brainstorming ways in which literary appreciation may improve student learning, as well as feasible methods to incorporate this into post-secondary education.
C. The Afterlife: Discussing the value of interdisciplinary education beyond undergraduate studies
Piyumi Galappatti, Neila Bazaracai, Harrison Niznick, David Campbell
What are the core values of an undergraduate interdisciplinary education? What are its limitations? How does an interdisciplinary education prepare students for a future career and or post-graduate studies? These are some questions a student might ask before choosing an interdisciplinary undergraduate program. The purpose of our discussion is to explore students’ motivations behind choosing their respective programs and to allow participants to reflect on what they value most in their education, and how the fundamental tenets of an interdisciplinary education will follow and affect them for the rest of their lives.
D. Mental health in Ontario: A necessarily interdisciplinary issue
Ruth Collings and Sandra Duffey
1 in 5 Canadians are diagnosed with a mental illness during their lifetime. Mental illness can be described as a medical, psychological, social, and philosophical issue. The causes and treatments of mental illnesses are filtered through multiple, sometimes competing perspectives. This group will take a multidisciplinary approach to examining mental health: as academics, policy-makers, and professionals providing treatment. We will then discuss the merits and challenges of integrating the perspectives of multiple disciplines in order to find holistic, workable solutions to the complex problems raised by mental illness.
E. The Place of Science in a Liberal Arts Education
Hilary Noad and Shawn Fazel
What is the purpose of science in an interdisciplinary education? Our discussion will touch upon questions such as, what counts as science? What do we hope to achieve by including a strong science component in a liberal arts education? How much science is enough, and at what level of detail, to achieve our aims? How can science courses be made meaningful for individuals with diverse academic and extra-curricular interests? The goals of this working group are to become aware of the ways in which various interdisciplinary programs handle science education, and to develop an understanding of the reasons behind the different approaches.
F. Interuniveristy Collaboration Implementation
Simon Gooding-Townsend and Jeremy Henderson
This working group is designed to implement collaboration between different interdisciplinary programs. Broad goals include a stronger
voice, sharing resources, and academic collaboration. Some specific ideas include collecting information on different interdisciplinary programs to make it more readily available to applicants; creating undergraduate interdisciplinary teaching awards to recognize the time that instructors put into these programs; the creation of an intensive one week course offered by one program but open to other programs as an exchange opportunity; and an interdisciplinary undergraduate journal. Additional ideas are welcome. Last year’s working group supported the creation of an interdisciplinary undergraduate society to address the lack of representation that most other programs have from being part of an established disciplinary tradition. While last year’s working group discussed many of these ideas, the emphasis in this year’s working group is on implementing stronger collaboration.
G. Interdisciplinary Careers in Health Care
Amy Tang and Chetna Mistry
The focus of our working group will be on the application of critical thinking, collaboration, and problem-solving skills in the context of the health care system. By sharing perspectives on interdisciplinary education, the discussion will attempt to define the important skills that unify our diverse programs. The analysis of medical literature will uncover an emerging trend of interdisciplinary health care, but how can the skills discussed earlier apply to a career in medicine? Collaboration among inter-professional teams is making patient care more effective, but how sustainable are these interdisciplinary careers?
H. Have Prerequisites Doomed Interdisciplinary Education?
Chelsey Forsberg and Soraya Jung
Students’ lack of experience in a particular field may hinder their willingness to enter interdisciplinary education programs. In this dynamic session, we discuss how prerequisites affect interdisciplinary education, and what courses high school students should complete prior to entering an interdisciplinary program. Following small-group discussions, we will create a visual representation of the emergent concepts to encourage participants to make connections among ideas that are presented. In this way, each participant should leave the session with several ideas that they can apply at their institution to resolve the issues of pre-requisites and interdisciplinary programs.