Interdisciplinary studies is like a secret community within our crazy world in which we live in. What is so cool about this community is that there is so much to explore and learn about our world that we are solving collaboratively. In a recent edition of the European Journal of Social Theory, Dr. Arjomand wrote about how interdisciplinary studies is rising quickly and significantly helping with research in the field of social science. Dr. Arjomand talks about how there is so much research in specific areas of social sciences, but as scholars begin to collaborate we are learning so much more about our culture and society. Below, Dr. Arjomand talks about the significant contribution interdisciplinary studies is making to our understanding of development patterns around the world.
“The recent interdisciplinary studies I have surveyed offer a significant contribution to our theoretical understanding of developmental patterns distinctive of different world regions, and thus pave the way to redeeming the promise of comparative sociology, and thereby to undoing the erasure of the historical experience of a very sizeable portion of humankind from the foundations of social theory” (Arjomand 302).
This idea of paving the way for further research and understanding is one of the main draws for me in regards to interdisciplinary studies. Reading articles like this gets me excited to do research and learn as much as possible about issues we face in today’s world. Even early in my interdisciplinary career, professors have challenged me to think about issues from different aspects and with a critical world eye. I have been pushed to think about issues with less tunnel vision and with more than one dimension, but rather with as many dimensions as possible.
Dr. Arjomand also touched upon the idea of comparing and contrasting larger ideas to come up with solutions and/or understand society better. “The enormous growth of interdisciplinary studies is in no small part due to their multifocal approach, which reveals different aspects of a single phenomenon and thus 302 European Journal of Social Theory 20(2) invites comparisons and contrasts” (Arjomand 302-303). Dr. Arjomand’s main point in this quote is to achieve growth by focusing on multiple aspects of the single topic being explored. One way to look at the issues from multiple views is to compare and contrast thoughts. We as a community can learn so much by comparing not only literature, but thoughts between colleagues. Growth will not happen alone, but rather an effort from all members of the community. If we can collaborate on our research and thoughts we can make some significant discoveries together.
Arjomand, Saïd Amir. “The Rise of Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Sciences and Humanities and the Challenge of Comparative Sociology.” European Journal of Social Theory, vol. 20, no. 2, May 2017, pp. 292-306. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1177/1368431016646112.
Recently Plymouth State University has partnered with the Bank of New Hampshire to enhance the newly opened AllWell North Building. This partnership was not only between Plymouth State Administration and the Bank of New Hampshire, but also between Plymouth State Athletics and Plymouth State Academics and the Plymouth community.
This partnership is a clear example of transdisciplinarity work within the community as a company from outside of Plymouth State is helping Plymouth State University. This partnership has increased quality in athletic facilities as well as funds for classrooms, conferences, and other events held in AllWell North. This building will also be used for community walks and other activities since the funds help provide for more staff to maintain the building. Knowledge from business personnel, athletics, as well as administrators were all essential in the building of this partnership and creating the plan for improvements in the buildings. This collaboration is a perfect example of multi-disciplinarity work being done not only for the institution, but for the community.
Without the effort from all of these different groups the improvements would have been made with considerations to all different disciplines. Reaching across the disciplines allowed for funds to be used to benefit all areas of need from hosting conferences and commencement to collegiate athletic and community events. Receiving input from different people with different backgrounds allows for expansion for the good of all people and creation of a place that is a true melting pot of disciplines and/or interests.
As part of my contract, I have a strong emphasis in the psychology discipline. The content of psychology is the study the human mind and how it works. The study of how the brain works can be how the brain works when reacting to certain places, people etc. or how one develops over time, or what motivates a person. Psychology is an unique subject that requires an understanding of many concepts that are often hard to grasp, but are essential to understanding humans on the deepest level possible.
The methods used to study psychology are often different surveys, experiments, and observations. Psychology can be studied using a variety of methods and the research is often used to reexamine an old idea or concept to better understand the current issues in today’s society.
The epistemology of psychology is to understand why certain things happen in the brain and how a variety of variables connect to one another. Psychology aims at understanding what one cannot always physically see on the outside of one’s body. The main goal of psychology is to understand why people do the things they do and what type of things occur internally that have a connection to external factors.
The study of psychology first took off during the late 1800s with the opening of the first psychology lab in the world (located in Germany). Shortly after in 1883, the first American psychology lab opened its doors to students and researcher (History of Psychology 2001).
At Plymouth State, psychology has long been a part of the university and offers may different types of psychology degrees including a B.A. or a B.S. in psychology. Classes in this discipline are fun here at PSU. Classes usually involve some type of self-directed research project which allows students to do some self-exploration and learn about what truly interests them. Most classes are held in Hyde Hall and are small classrooms filled with discussions about our own observations and experiences. In my psychology classes, we view the world with open arms in hopes to better understand all aspects of life. Learning is organized by building upon ideas that have already been discussed and then taking time to dive deeper into each area of discussion.
Psychology Today is probably one of the biggest Twitter leaders. They are connected to many other twitter platforms including the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and Psychology News.
APA, one of the more widely known organizations, publishes several journals including American Psychologist and the American Journal of Psychology. Psychology is also one of those strange subjects where ideas and concepts may not necessarily go out of date, but rather change with time or vary slightly depending on advances in society like technology. For example, Erikson is still studied to this day even despite his view on women and their roles. His ideas may not all apply to today’s world, but his ideas of development and how each stage of life plays a role in identity can still be studied to this day and are considered some of the greatest studies ever done.
The History of Psychology. (2001). Retrieved October 30, 2017, from http://www.learner.org/series/discoveringpsychology/history/history_nonflash.html
Interdisciplinary Studies is an unique program here at Plymouth State University, and although many people may find the idea of creating your own program attractive, few have the ambition to venture into this world. This world of Interdisciplinary Studies is a world of deep thinkers, go-getters, problem solvers, and passionate scholars looking to expand their own knowledge to benefit others. The strong attraction to Interdisciplinary Studies for me was simply this, being able to create my own passionate program that allows me think deeper about issues, solve problems, all while working across the lines of different disciplines. With this program, I can take ownership of my future and find meaning to my academics. College is a crazy time in students’ lives and they often just get fixated on getting their degree and getting there as quick as possible. But Gregorian explains what the goals should be of college perfectly, “Instead of helping students learn and grow as individuals, find meaning in their lives, or understand their role in society, college has become a chaotic maze where students try to pick up something useful as they search for the exit: the degree needed to obtain decent employment” (Gregorian).
When creating my Interdisciplinary Studies program, I worked towards creating a program that was transdisciplinary and/or worked to build bridges and connections between a variety of disciplines. I wanted to create a course load that would best prepare me for my future and create the most comprehensive knowledge base possible. And to do this, I had to be willing to push myself across boundaries and work within multiple disciplines in order to create a bridge of knowledge. “We must reform higher education to reconstruct the unity and value of knowledge. While that may sound esoteric, especially to some outside the academy, it is really just shorthand for saying that the complexity of the world requires us to have a better understanding of the relationships and connections between all fields that intersect and overlap. . .” (Gregorian). Higher education must be willing to change how it views teaching and students must be willing to put in the work to prepare them for the best possible future. As Gregorian previously touched on the idea of the world’s problems being solved through connections and relationships between fields. We cannot begin to solve the world’s problems if we have one area of understanding, but if we work with others and each individual has a broad sense of knowledge we can accomplish much greater things.
My experience in Interdisciplinary Studies thus far has been nothing but positive. I feel in control of my future and am gaining knowledge that is practical and important for my future. I have surrounded myself in a community full of thinkers who want to solve the world’s problems, think about things differently, and speak intellectually about the need for knowledge expansion. “Many complex or practical problems can only be understood by pulling together insights and methodologies from a variety of disciplines. Those who forget this simple truth run the intellectual risk of tunnel vision and the social risk of irresponsible action” (Nissani).
Pulling together insights not only happens in Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies, but also within projects and course work. I am able to take courses that help me understand the mind and body and break out of that tunnel, that is the traditional college program. I am able to participate in projects and classes that give me a sense of ownership as I am learning about all aspects of development whether it be a newborn child or an elderly adult. I am taking classes to gain knowledge about their physical as well as psychological development and how it is all related to one another.
In conclusion, I am passionate about Interdisciplinary Studies, because I feel as though my education is meaningful and goal-driven. I have taken the opportunity to take ownership of my own future and academics as well as found meaning in my school work. I no longer sit in classes counting down the minutes until I get to leave, but rather count down the minutes until I am about to go to class. I am excited and passionate and feel as though each class serves a specific purpose in accomplishing my goals.
Gregorian, V. (n.d.). Interdisciplinary Studies: A Connected Learning Approach. Retrieved October 20, 2017, from https://press.rebus.community/idsconnect/chapter/colleges-should-reconstruct-the-unity of-knowledge/
Nissani, M. (1997). Three Cheers for Interdisciplinarity [Abstract]. Social Science Journal, 34(2), 201-216. Retrieved October 20, 2017, from http://drnissani.net/mnissani/pagepub/10CHEERS.HTM
The title of my program is “Exercise and Psychological Sciences” which is based around my future aspirations to work in occupational therapy. My program includes courses from many different departments with the bulk of courses coming from the Health and Human Performance and Psychology departments. I created this program in pursuit of an education that allowed me to get the best experience possible. I wanted to take both exercise and psychology courses in order to best prepare for graduate school, but no major or minor would have been able to best suit my needs considering the types of psychology courses and the variety of exercise courses I was looking to take. There is no other program here at Plymouth State that allows students to freely take different psychology classes in all areas of life as well as take the hard sciences needed to attend graduate school as an occupational therapy student, therefore, I chose to pursue Interdisciplinary Studies.
The courses in my contract are all tailored to best prepare me for the future and give me the most well-rounded experience here at Plymouth State. To fulfill my QRCO requirement I have completed General Chemistry I. This will also help me as I pursue a career in Occupational Therapy and understand what exactly occurs chemically within someone’s body.
I have chosen a number of Physical Education courses. One course that directly enhanced my knowledge of the human body and function was Functional Anatomy. This course focused on the body’s movements and the mechanisms of injury and how those injuries affect muscle, bones, tendons, and other structures in the body. Adding Wellness Choices for the Active and Healthy Lifestyle was vital in understanding how all parts of wellness are interconnected. When working in the health care field, it is important to understand what overall wellness is and how each choice one makes can affect a different part of one’s wellness. Kinesiology (PE3570) breaks down the biomechanics of the body’s movements as well as how to prevent injury and teach proper technique. This course is related to occupational therapy by breaking down the most intricate of movements and the components that alter the movement. Motor Learning is the perfect course to add as part of my program because this course goes in depth on the art of practice, teaching, and how people learn.
I have chosen two other courses from the Health and Human Performance Department. Understanding the nutritional needs of different people is vital to treating patients as well as understanding the role of different foods in the body, therefore, taking Applied Nutrition for Healthy Living was an excellent addition to my education program. Pharmacology for Allied Health Professionals was included to further understand the physiology of the body’s functions, and how medications and injury play a role in the function of one’s body.
In addition to my exercise science courses, I have also taken courses in math and business including Statistics I and Organizational Behavior. Both these courses taught me different budgeting skills and the ability to look at and analyze a variety of data sets.
The last major portion of my courses comes from psychology to further my understanding of the human mind and how that correlates with one’s ability to exercise and/or rehabilitate. Some of these courses are out of the Psychology Department and some are from the Health and Human Performance Department. These courses include Exercise and Health Psychology (PE4010), Abnormal Psychology, Life Span Development, and Psychological Aspects of Sport. Every one of these courses gives just a little bit of different insight into the human mind and how we not only view others, but culture, ourselves, and how this all relates to exercise. Specifically Exercise and Health Psychology, gives future health professionals an insight to how one may approach their own health and view on exercise. It is often helpful and crucial to understand the different theories behind motivation and self-esteem in order to best help a patient. Psychological Aspects of Sport is also a course that focuses on the different aspects of sport such as team dynamics, coach and player relationships and how it affects sport, and coping with injury. This course is particularly helpful since many people who use occupational therapy services are often coping with injury. As an occupational therapist, I will be able to better understand what my client may be dealing with psychologically and therefore will be able to help them through rehabilitation more smoothly. Life Span Development is one of the most crucial credentials to entering graduate school as occupational therapists serve people as young as 3-6 months old to as old as 100+ years of age. Having the knowledge of how people develop socially, mentally, and physically throughout their lives will give me a better understanding of where my patient may be in his or her life. Lastly, Abnormal Psychology is a course that studies the abnormal patterns in emotion, thought, and behavior. Again, each patient or athlete that an occupational therapist works with is different and has their own story. Understanding these patterns is just another layer of knowledge I can acquire to better care for others as I help them through the rehabilitation process.
Cultural Anthropology is another course I have included on my contract. This course helped me understand different cultures and the different components that makes each culture unique. This is great knowledge to have in the health care field as I will meet many different people with many different backgrounds and being culturally aware is vital to serving my patients to the best of my ability.
My program is interdisciplinary for a variety of reasons, but the major reason is that it is truly a melting pot of disciplines. I seek knowledge from not only exercise-based fields, but also psychology, math, chemistry, physical education, health education, anthropology, and business. Within each of these disciplines I dove even further into the field to take courses covering multiple subjects in the discipline. I worked to create a program that will set me up for success by researching what classes and knowledge are needed to be best prepared for a graduate degree in Occupational Therapy. As I pursue Occupational Therapy I will be able to have a psychological knowledge base of what the patient is experiencing and how to best help them as well as an understanding of their exercise needs and the best route for treatment. With this program, I will be able to understand the body functions as a whole and have a strong baseline knowledge of my field before entering graduate school.
Update and Intellectual Journey: I am extremely close to completing my degree plan and am so excited to graduate this December. I have not changed my contract since creating it last fall. I have enjoyed every course in my contract and felt it has benefited me every step of the way. The preparation towards graduate school has been ideal and allowed me to get a solid fundamental knowledge of my field. I am hoping to use this knowledge gained to propel me forward into a successful future. Before joining the IDS program here at PSU, I planned on pursuing a degree in Exercise and Sport Physiology. However, I wanted more for my education and felt I was lacking an aspect of my field, psychology. Creating an IDS contract has allowed me to connect all areas of my desired field into one focused degree program that is designed for me. I chose to become an interdisciplinarian because I wanted more for my education and a degree that worked for me. I feel more prepared for my field and feel as though I have more to offer leaving Plymouth State. Becoming an interdisciplinarian has been the best choice I have made so far and am grateful to be part of such an amazing program.
Being from Detroit, I have worked with a variety of populations and since joining IDS have gained many experiences to broaden my intellectual life. I have worked for the past year in a nursing home with a large dementia population. I work in the Dietary Department and therefore I am in charge of assisting patients as they eat as well as making sure their food is appropriate for their diet. This experience has helped me understand and implement my classroom work into a field. Using information from a variety of courses such as life-span psychology and applied nutrition has been extremely helpful. Being able to apply this knowledge into the “real-life” work force has been an extremely cool and rewarding as I feel as though I am making a difference in the lives of others.
The reason I chose to pursue Exercise and Psychological Sciences was because I had a severe injury myself and want to be able to help others as others helped me. I think the connection between psychology and athletics is extremely important, but often overlooked. Being able to understand and implement both physical and mental performance is key to a healthy person and I hope to be part of that solution.
As a scholar, I have a lot of classes that have influenced my approach and thoughts about scholar. One class in particular is Abnormal Psychology. This class has changed how I view a variety of mental illnesses and increased my understanding of these conditions. This class has allowed me to explore the mental illnesses and relate them back to exercise and athletics. Athletes whether they are little league baseball players or professional football players deal with a lot of adversity which can increase anxiety and lead to other issues. In addition to classes, I have had several professors change my journey along the way. One professor being Pam Childs who has encouraged me to get involved and explore every option that I come across. Professor Childs has also pushed me to think more broadly about subjects and really understand what is going on in our world and how it affects athletics. Another professor has been none other than Dr. DeRosa. Dr. DeRosa has been an integral part of intellectual journey and encouraging me to be comprehensive with my degree. Dr. DeRosa has also been a great resource and inspiration when it comes to creating my ePort, PLN, and scholarly connections.
In regard to society and politics, I believe that how we care for mental health patients is often overlooked. I also believe we stigmatize mental health especially in the world of athletics. Athletes are pushed to be strong and mentally tough, however, they are one of the populations that struggle the most. I want to be part of the solution in bridging the gap between mental health and athletics. Although my essay shows a lot about me as person, I feel as though my experiences like internships really show what I have learned and the room for growth I have. My essay has no way of detailing all these experiences and the projects that I have been involved in. Each project, internship, and class has helped build the foundation I need to be a successful member of the sport psychology community.
The cluster approach to academics is new to the structure of Plymouth State University. However, this idea has been long in use in our very own Interdisciplinary Studies program. This is a one of a kind program here at Plymouth State that allows students to reach across campus for knowledge and learn what they are most interested in to best prepare them for the future. In each program created within the department there are many components and pieces to a simple, yet complex puzzle. This is much like an athletic team where there are many parts working together to create one cohesive team including the Athletic Event Staff, Coaches, Players, Athletic Trainers, and Fans. The most intriguing part of this comparison is that much as our academics and our sports teams here at PSU work well, they work well together and often enhance the knowledge of their counterparts. PSU is a collaborative university that aims to successfully help each student and staff member reach their goals and this is often accomplished by the sharing of information and the seamless line created between departments. Through these variety of collaboration experiences, Plymouth State is able to create one united team and is fortunate to have staff members that truly care on their team. In my interview, I was able to sit down with PSU Men’s Soccer Coach as well as PSU Professor and Athletic Event Manager, Rob Wright, to ask him about his experiences, accomplishments, and most importantly how collaboration can be a vital role in the success of an individual or team.
Rob Wright has served as the Men’s Soccer Coach for the past sixteen seasons here at Plymouth State. Before finding his way to Plymouth State, Wright earned an undergraduate degree in Sport Psychology and a graduate degree in Sport Development in the United Kingdom. Wright would later go on to earn another graduate degree in Athletic Administration from Plymouth State. Wright wears many hats as he is a part of the US Soccer Federation and currently works for the New Hampshire Soccer Association as a coach to teach others about the art of coaching to earn a license. Wright cited Play Soccer as having one of the most significant impacts on his career as he started off early in his career with Play Soccer and often traveled to teach soccer camps around the United States.
Wright stated that one of his biggest accomplishments is earning an “A Level” soccer coaching license which is a very difficult global license to obtain with strict guidelines. Wright is one of 7 people in the state of New Hampshire to have earned this level license and obtained this license before the age of 30 through the USSFA. With this level license Wright teaches other aspiring coaches who are looking to pursue their careers. Wright has had the opportunity to collaborate with one of the biggest soccer clubs in Sweden and spend four days recruiting, joining the team for meetings, and training as players prepared for professional contracts.
As an educator, here at Plymouth State, Wright has many experiences working with others across campus as well as develop his own thoughts on higher education. Unlike many higher educators, Wright stated that he does not consider himself a professor, but rather an expert in his subject area. When teaching coursework to students, Wright strongly believes that teaching students as an equal and having intuitive conversations amongst adults is one of the best ways to further someone’s education. In the classroom, Wright creates real world projects for students to get hands on experience as early as the second week of class; in addition to real world projects Wright believes having relevant material being taught in class that students can see as realistically being applied to their life is key to the success of students.
As I began to discuss with Wright the importance of collaboration and working in a collaborative environment we dived into the use of technology in higher education. When asked about what can be done to help students learn best, Wright stated “. . .evolving with technology in a positive way. There will always be a constant battle with phones in class, but using other forms of technology can help students expand their knowledge as well as begin to network in their fields”. Wright brings light to an important aspect of higher education as creating ePorts and using Twitter professionally can enhance one’s future career, but if students are on their phones during class therefore missing the important information about how to utilize information we have now come to a cross roads. Technology must be used as a supplement to education in a positive way to further one’s educational experience.
Having experience and working in both the athletic and academic, Wright stated many benefits of collaboration. Wright explained that one of biggest advantages is always learning something new or “having your finger on the pulse”. “You can obtain great insight from other faculty and staff through collaboration as everyone is obtaining the newest and best information in their respected fields”, said Wright. I asked Wright about what skills he feels he has obtained by working across disciplines and amongst the lengthy list was social skills, effective communication, the confidence to stand up for something new, and ability to critically think and translate that to public communication. Wright is one among hundreds of faculty members here at PSU, yet has collaborated with a variety of people and departments at PSU. Some of those collaborations include administration, admissions, UPD, public relations, graphic design (HUB 50th Anniversary), and business. One particular collaboration Wright commented on was with the English department. For this project, two students continually followed PSU Men’s Soccer and wrote reports about the team throughout the season as real life experience in sports journalism. Lastly, when asked the tough question of what are the challenges of collaboration and are there any experiences where the collaboration was not beneficial, Wright’s answers were simple. It was noted that one of the challenges can be not fully understanding the other side, but that is also a beauty of collaboration, learning to understand more than one perspective and enhance your own knowledge or views. Pertaining to the topic of collaborations that were not beneficial, Wright stated that there has never been an issue with any collaborations he has been involved in and has always benefited in some way from crossing over into other disciplines for insight.
Wright’s experiences here at PSU in regards to collaboration is the perfect example of how collaboration can benefit not only one department or two, but an entire campus. Through enhancing one’s own personal experiences, like earning a level “A” license, collaboration can become that more beneficial as professionals each strive to learn the most they can to become an expert in their field. Collaboration is all about creating a team of individuals that can diversify and critically think about one issue/event/study etc. Much like different members of PSU work together to create a masterpiece, Interdisciplinary students have the opportunity to create their own majors with multiple disciplines in effort to create the best possible experience for their future.
The first article, “The Web We Need to Give Students” by Audrey Watters, was a very relatable article as well as shed light on how we can use technology to better not only our society, but education. Often, I feel the younger generation is often shamed for their use of technology, when we can use technology in a positive light. Students can create their own domain and watch themselves grow over the duration of their career. Students can make connections with those already in the field they are choosing to pursue as well as enrich their education at the same time. “The importance of giving students responsibility for their own domain cannot be overstated’ (Watters). I think this is an extremely relevant quote to furthering the use of technology in education as we continue to pursue different ways to utilize technology to connect with others in our field.
The second article, “A Personal Cyberinfrastructure” by Gardener Campbell, was article that really made me think a lot about the Plymouth State University style of education. Plymouth State has a unique cluster and integrative approach to education that propels students into their futures. Campbell said it best when they stated “Higher Education, which should be in the business of thinking the unthinkable” (Campbell). This is the idea that I believe is pushing forward the concept of integrative clusters as we as a university think past the typical college education experience.
The third article, “Do I Own My Domain If You Grade It?” by Andrew Rikard, points out a very interesting idea that if students feel graded there is instantly that pressure to impress one person. However, our education should not be based on the what one person values, but rather what we as students can grow from. Giving students this sense of ownership I believe will give them a sense of pride and feel as though there is a deep value in their education. If students can see clear benefits and rewards from their hard work, then the likely hood that they will be more productive in society and in their careers, is extremely likely. However, students need not to learn in fear of a red pen grading every single item they produce in college.