To be brutally honest, I didn’t think I was really going to LEARN anything in this class. I figured we’d talk a little bit about the interdisciplinary studies program, learn how to make our majors, have our hands held and deal with rules when designing out majors, then submit our majors, get approved, and be off for the summer. It is clear to see even just looking at my ePort that I was dead wrong. This was honestly the first class that has ever taught me anything about pedagogy, about taking control of my education, or about lifelong learning. Truthfully, I didn’t even REALLY know what interdisciplinarity was before this class. I figured it was just a term that could describe majors or subjects that didn’t quite fit into a singular, defined discipline. More accurately, I learned, it describes blends between 2 or more disciplines; each and every blend can be unique in its own way. It isn’t just a category of misfits, but unique hybrids. Interdisciplinarity is all around us in all walks of life, all you have to do is open your eyes to it.
Throughout my time as an exercise science major, I felt like somewhat of an outcast. While I was interested in what I was learning, I knew it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. I wanted to produce, create, and share. I didn’t want to just focus on memorizing small details about the human body, I wanted to share knowledge with others and have a creative outlet. This is what lead me to interdisciplinary studies. Carly Ristuccia discusses her similar situation in her article titled “Standing Alone”. I identified with a lot of what she said. Interdisciplinary has broadened my horizons, which is necessary when trying to share scientific information with others without science backgrounds. She also said it has helped her to think abstractly. She wrote “if everyone just stuck to guidelines and tradition, the world would never grow and would never have the chance to become any better.Interdisciplinary studies in and of itself is thinking abstractly and creatively.” She also mentions how interdisciplinary studies has helped her become more aware of her learning. I can relate to this and it definitely applies to what I am studying. While I knew I was learning a lot in exercise science, I can actually feel the difference when my communication skills grow with my new major. This is extremely satisfying to me and has allowed me to fall back in love with learning.
This leads right into Vartan Gregorian’s discussion of the unity of knowledge. While students are looking for self-discovery, development of passionate interests, and finding a meaningful career, higher education is focusing on just job-readiness. I’m still at a place in my life where I am figuring out who I am, what I want, and what I truly care about, so an education that will simply make an employee out of me just isn’t right. He writes “mass higher education is heading toward what I call the Home Depot approach to education, where there is no differentiation between consumption and digestion, or between information and learning, and no guidance — or even questioning — about what it means to be an educated and cultured person.” This drove me crazy before I came to interdisciplinary studies. Now I feel more like an individual, I’m trying what I want to try, learning what I want to learn, and more importantly figuring myself out. Instead of just memorizing notes, I’m discovering my talents and passions while developing skills that will lead to lifelong learning instead of simple career preparation.
Interdisciplinary studies are ALL around us. As discussed by some of my classmates and me, everything from non-profit organizations, to museums, to transportation, to personal training, and even scuba dive shops involve different disciplines. Unfortunately, too many universities have students focus on just one discipline when it would be in their best interest to focus on multiple. For example, communication studies can benefit any major one could think of. Communication is going to be involved in all of our lives just about every single day, so having an understanding of effective communication will be beneficial to literally any career. Additionally, when disciplines connect, great progress can be made. Technology, business, sustainability, just about anything could break new ground by combining and working with other disciplines. In today’s world, collaboration can elicit unprecedented growth, so interdisciplinarity could very well be key to our future.
Back to the honesty thing, I’m not really sure what I want in the future. However, I do know I want to continue to grow, explore, and experience everything this world has to offer. I might not know EXACTLY what I want to do for a career, and I might not know EXACTLY what I plan to get out of my college experience, but I’m certain that I will dive into any opportunity IDS, PSU, or life in general puts in front of me. I will stare into the abyss until the abyss stares back, fearless of what the future holds, trusting in the process and filling the glass that is my life to the very brim. I will learn everything I can to fill my brain, I will love and be loved without reserve or fear to fill my heart, and I will be kind to myself and others, doing what feels right and being unapologetically myself to fill my soul.