CGHE Webinar 315

Setting off the Dominoes: A Theory of Change for Scaled Interdisciplinarity at a Liberal Arts and Science University in China

Date: Tuesday, 15 November 2022 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Location: Zoom Webinar, registration required
Speaker(s):
  • Huiyuan Ye, Duke Kunshan University (DKU)

Event Materials

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Despite being a key feature of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and a core strength of liberal arts and sciences education, interdisciplinarity is also a noisy buzzword which does not always make sense. Traditional interdisciplinary fields take it for granted like fish in the water while, somewhere else, people keep a distance with questions. Doing interdisciplinarity faces additional boundary challenges due to strong gravitational forces that are national, historical, and increasingly from between college and workplace. For institutions like Duke Kunshan University (DKU) whose vision for robust interdisciplinarity is rooted across these boundaries, it is not enough to set up a curriculum, hoping that once and for all the train of interdisciplinarity will roar on. In reality, it may take a higher magnitude of interdisciplinarity and constant enabling mechanisms to balance out certain gravitational forces, such as the pro-STEM and pro-exam tendencies in Chinese higher education. This study surveyed the inaugural undergraduate class of DKU (Class of 2022) as well as its undergraduate faculty to propose a theory of change for scaled interdisciplinarity. The resulting theory of change elaborates on an actionable definition of interdisciplinarity using a vocabulary common to college and workplace, a mobility lens for measuring and leveraging different and especially higher magnitudes of interdisciplinarity, and a linchpin mechanism for energizing this mobility so that interdisciplinarity is more entwined with other institutional facets of teaching, learning, and research.

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