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Old 08-22-2012, 10:14 PM
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Default Defining Interdisciplinary Studies

Defining Interdisciplinary Studies
For over a century, the American educational system at all levels has relied on academic disciplines as platforms from which to impart knowledge and to generate new knowledge. Today, interdisciplinary learning at all levels is far more common as there is growing recognition that it is needed to answer complex questions, solve complex problems, and gain coherent understanding of complex issues that are increasingly beyond the ability of any single discipline to address comprehensively or resolve adequately. As Carole L. Palmer (2001) writes, “The real-world research problems that scientists address rarely arise within orderly disciplinary categories, and neither do their solutions” (p. vii).

This chapter explains the meaning of interdisciplinary studies, defines interdisciplinary studies and the term interdisciplinarity, explains the premise of interdisciplinarity and interdisciplinary studies, examines how the terms are variably used today, and identifies metaphors commonly associated with interdisciplinary work.

The meaning of interdisciplinary studies or interdisciplinarity continues to be contested by its practitioners and critics. But emerging from this debate are key concepts around which consensus is developing and which inform the integrated definition of interdisciplinary studies that appears in this chapter. The following discussion unpacks the meaning of these terms and, in doing so, introduces students to some of the theory undergirding this developing and diverse academic field.

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