A Message from Dean Dave Jones
Often these days we hear or read a lament for the effects of the law of unintended consequences. One defense against running afoul of this law is the ability to see problems from more than one perspective. Drexel does a superb job of giving students skills and expertise in specific fields, but in recent years the University has recognized a need to broaden our students’ education so that they appreciate the value of examining problems from various points of view. Interdisciplinary learning is thus a featured goal in Drexel’s recent and current strategic plans.
In support of this goal, the Honors College recently — July 1, 2011 — established the Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry under the direction of Dr. Scott Knowles, Associate Professor of History. The Center’s overall mission is to foster, encourage, develop, and implement innovative approaches to interdisciplinary education not just in the Honors College but throughout the University.
The Honors College is the natural home for such a Center. Our mission is such that almost everything we do is interdisciplinary. Our seminars and colloquia are open to Honors students from all majors. For several years, we have offered the interdisciplinary Great Works Symposium, which each year studies one broad issue for four terms from a different perspective each term, and is taught by a team drawn from several disciplines. This fall we will launch a new major of our own, the Custom-Designed Major, in which each student will draw courses from three or more separate disciplines in order to fashion a major uniquely suited to the student’s goals.
The Great Works Symposium and the Custom-Designed Major will be administered by the Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry and stand as examples of innovative approaches to interdisciplinary study. The Center will also assist with travel-integrated courses. We envision the Center as a laboratory for demonstrating successful strategies for interdisciplinary education, experimenting with new ones, and helping faculty across the University develop interdisciplinary courses.