Interdisciplinary project based learning is arguably the best path to success in my opinion. An interdisciplinary study allows the learner to broaden their academic and personal skill set. It allows you to open yourself up to many other important fields that are helpful, but not directly built in to your major. According to many educational new letters and community companies there has been a “way to success” process called The Four C’s. Accomplishing The Four C’s will make you an ideal candidate for jobs and a productive worker. This ties into interdisciplinary studies because they both work to build a wide range of abilities.
The Four C’s are; Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, and Critical thinking. These are skills are not the commonly seen classes like English, Science, and Math, because they are not taught as much as they are learned through experience. The goal by interdisciplinary projects is that by exploring different disciplines you become open to how these four C’s are laced into mock real life programs.
Here at Plymouth State University we created cluster programs specifically for this reason of providing a chance for students to experience an integrated assignment where they can learn skills such like; communication, collaboration, creativity, or critical thinking. These cluster projects are all success stories of students working together to learn more and take action.
One specific cluster project that I see as a great success was the Take Back the Night forum held on campus. This multi-disciplinary project brought together not just an arrangement of different majors but also stakeholders around campus. Majors that took part were criminal justice, English, social work, and woman studies, along with it being open for any students to take part in. Many clubs or organizations on campus also took part in putting this event together, such like; SAVE All (Sexual Assault and Violence Education Alliance), Title IX, Criminal Justice Club, and Mixed Emotions (accapella group). The trans-disciplinary part of this project was the non-academia partnering that was brought to work with Take Back the Night. This outside involvement was from the local police departments and Voices against Violence.
The purpose of this Take Back the Night forum was to hold an interactive conference where public speakers came and educated about sexual violence, assault, protection, and prevention. This forum not only educated students about the vocabulary, statistics and seriousness of these issues but also informed them about the services and how to handle them. By bring different majors together it allowed people with different sets of knowledge to education everyone on the parts they knew the most about. Multi-disciplinary learning is accentual because every major has something to bring to the table, and by sharing the background each has, everyone can gain different perspectives.
The criminal justice majors and Title IX brought the legal background about how different actions are taken when specific situations happen. There background was also accompanied by University police talking about procedures involving attacks. The English department wrote poems and Mixed Emotions sang, used the power of words to express personal stories and make everyone feel like they were not alone. The social work and prevention clubs shared what we can do to raise awareness and how to spread education on the topic. Together they covered how to communicate problems with each other and outside groups. The teams also learned about collaboration by working with so many departments to make an event like this possible. By including poetry and music and interactive self-expression crafts they made it creative so people could learn through another outlet that was not just speakers. Everyone learned critical thinking skills when they put together this program and worked together to build a future call to action in order to prevent further sexual assault and violence.
This multi and trans-disciplinary project was such a success because when groups of different disciplines work together they share knowledge and spread ideas. Big developments like this one and many other cluster programs also build skills necessary for real life and work fields that are not usually taught in classes.