In a wide-ranging discussion about the role and future of interdisciplinary education, Dilly Fung, Carl Gombrich, Jessica Templeton, and Jillian Terry consider the importance of disciplinary empathy and academic literacies, draw on the concept of horizontverschmelzung, and bemoan tired methodological categories, the quant-qual divide, and institutional reward structures
we really need to be able to recognise nuance and also recognise the limitations of our own understanding of a problem. I think that's one thing that interdisciplinary thinking can do.
On 17 June this year, the first Knowledge Beyond Boundaries: An Interdisciplinary Student Research Conference was held at the LSE as part of LSE Student Futures. At a keynote panel chaired by Jillian Terry, assistant professorial lecturer and deputy director of LSE100, LSE, the panellists, Dilly Fung, pro-director education, LSE; Carl Gombrich, academic lead and head of learning, London Interdisciplinary School; and Jessica Templeton, associate professorial lecturer and (former) director of LSE100, LSE debated the role and future of interdisciplinary education in higher education.
The questions for discussion were:
- What is an interdisciplinary education? (02:05)
- How does interdisciplinarity shape the way students learn? (07:10)
- What are the challenges of implementing interdisciplinarity in programmes and courses? (09:07)
- Are we in a post-disciplinary world? (16:15)
- What advantages does an interdisciplinary education offer students? (24:48)
(followed by questions from the audience)
if universities are really looking to tackle big complex problems, there’s going to have to be more collaboration, and it’s going to have to be across disciplines – Jessica Templeton
Here is an edited recording of the panel discussion as part of the LSE Higher Education Blog’s podcast series, The Common Room.
so many graduates that I see now are experts because of their interdisciplinarity, not in spite of it.
Professor Dilly Fung is currently serving as Pro-Director for Education at LSE, which is a role that she first took up in July of 2018. In her role as Pro-Director, Dilly oversees student education across the school, and also serves as Professor in Practice at the LSE School of Public Policy. Her academic work draws on her very own interdisciplinary roots in English, politics, and the philosophy of education.
Professor Carl Gombrich is the Academic Lead and Director of Teaching and Learning at the London Interdisciplinary School, which is a new university in London, which will admit its first cohort of students later this year. Prior to joining LIS, Carl worked at UCL as Professorial Teaching Fellow in Interdisciplinary Education, where he established the Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences degree program for undergraduates. His own education and teaching experience spans maths, physics, philosophy, and music.
Dr Jessica Templeton is Associate Professorial Lecturer and Director of LSE100. Jessica is a political scientist by training. Her research investigates global environmental politics and the regulation of hazardous chemicals. She also works as an editor, writer, and team leader for the Earth Negotiations Bulletin, a nonpartisan publication that analyses UN multilateral environmental negotiations. (At the time of publishing this podcast, Jessica is no longer at the LSE.)
are we already in a post-disciplinary world? While hyper-specialization might be the order of the day in some disciplines like maths and physics, what do you think is the future of the discipline in social sciences?
This post is opinion-based and does not reflect the views of the London School of Economics and Political Science or any of its constituent departments and divisions.