Issues in Interdisciplinary Practice in Higher Education: The Art and Science Connection

Ms. Diana Meckley
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Higher education administrators are spending increasing amounts of time and money searching for ways to foster interdisciplinary research and discourse. Within the disciplines themselves, where many academics feel that avenues of research have been played out or have become too constricting, one also finds an increase in interdisciplinary research, for example, between the humanities and the cognitive sciences. Yet, quite often, interdisciplinary work has proven more difficult in practice than in theory. Scholars investigating issues in interdisciplinary work in higher education have begun to take into account social, cultural, economic, and historical settings in order to identify key elements in successful interdisciplinary practice (Boix-Mansilla & Gardner, 2002); (Frost & Jean, 2003); (Lattuca, 2002). At the same time, the interdisciplinary practice of those collaborating within the more loosely-aligned art, science and technology communities has been the focus of an increasing number of papers, conferences, and think-tanks. This paper represents an initial attempt to synthesize the research and lessons learned from the higher education and art/science/technology communities in order to identify core factors behind successful interdisciplinary practice and identify emergent issues for further study. When viewed together, overlapping themes emerge including the need for a strong grounding in one discipline before engaging in interdisciplinary work; the need for an interdisciplinary mind-set; the evolution of new communities of practice; and the impact of shifts in inquiry within the sciences and the humanities on current trends in interdisciplinary research. Recommendations are suggested for those currently engaged in or attempting to foster interdisciplinary practice at higher education institutions. Emergent issues such as the need for better tools for assessing interdisciplinary work and what impact online and other communities of practice will have on the quality and direction of research, are also identified.

Keywords: Higher education, Interdisciplinary, Art and science, Humanities and science, Knowledge production
Stream: Science, Environment and the Humanities
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Issues in Interdisciplinary Practice in Higher Education

Ms. Diana Meckley

Independent researcher

Diana Meckley is an independent researcher, writer, and former composer whose work over the past two decades reflects her interest in the interfaces between the humanities, science, and technology. Her current research focuses on issues in interdisciplinary practice in higher education and the ways in which interdisciplinary work in the art, science, and technology communities can inform that practice. Other research looks at the role of the humanities in providing cross-disciplinary insights that not only help us understand what it means to be human right now, but engender imaginative and critical responses that may help shape what it means to be human in the coming decades. She has presented at and helped conceptualize a number of conferences and think-tanks that focus on interdisciplinary practice, emergent art forms, and art and science, including ArtSci2002: New Dimensions in Collaboration (Graduate Center of the City University of New York) and Digital Secrets: New Collaborations in Visual Art and Technology (Institute for Studies in the Arts, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ., 2001). Meckley received a B.A. in English from the University of Colorado, continuing graduate work at New York University in Interdisciplinary Art Forms. She sits on the Board of Directors of Art and Science Collaborations, Inc. (ASCI), the Board of Advisors of Harvestworks, Digital Media Arts, and is a member of The Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts.

Ref: H05P0833