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Interdisciplinary Studies Encouraged For Liberal Arts Colleges

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Eric Hoover reported last week that liberal arts college leaders are talking up the value of interdisciplinary studies.

At “The Future of the Liberal Arts College in America and Its Leadership Role in Education Around the World”, the tendency to exist within disciplinary silos at liberal arts colleges was actually harmful to students.

President David W Oxtoby of Ponoma College told attendees the problem came from the inflexibility that results from the small size of liberal arts colleges. Interdisciplinary work is harder to sustain and, he added, gets caught up in the politics that exist between departments.

However, Oxtoby suggested that colleges must help their faculty move beyond disciplinary “comfort zones”. He suggested collaborations with other colleges to expose students to different resources and modes of learning.