Broadening Narrow Studies: Interdisciplinarity For University Students

Collaboration solves problems and creates new ideas. However, students are being pushed into overly-specific fields of study. Professor Don Nutbeam, vice-chancellor of the University of Southampton, explores this issue and the benefits of a interdisciplinary research.

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Left: Don Nutbeam. (Photo Source: Foreign and Commonwealth Office http://www.flickr.com/photos/foreignoffice/)

Broader studies are gaining importance as potential employers demand flexibility from graduates. Career fields of the future will likely look very different from the ones today, and these graduates will have to navigate a large network of employment paths. It is the university’s role to provide as many paths for success as possible..

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Southampton University. (Photo Source: John Goode http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnnieb/)

Fortunately, universities are beginning to embrace interdisciplinarity in addition to traditional programs. Professor Nutbeam’s own school started introducing courses developed for adaptability.The University of Manchester created the University College For Interdisciplinary Learning to properly prepare students for less subject-intensive fields.

While a full transition for traditional universities will be difficult, great things usually happen when intellectuals come together.

Nathan Repp is a writer for Scholar Hero, Inc.

Searching For Tradition: What Google Searches Reveal About College Trends

What does it mean for distance learning institutions when tech-savvy college students turn more and more towards traditional universities? Recently, searchenginewatch.com released an article revealing a rise in education-related inquiries. While, Search Engine Watch goes in depth about what this means for college marketers, there are important ideas regarding the modern academic as well.

Investigating what searches say about universities. (Photo Source: Danard Vincente http://www.flickr.com/photos/danardvincente/)

Investigating what searches say about universities. (Photo Source: Danard Vincente http://www.flickr.com/photos/danardvincente/)

While the search increase for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) is notable, the growth in searches on educational information from traditional universities is far more interesting. Related to this is the rise in geographic searches for schools and the diminishing use of the word “online.”

Campuses: a physical hub for learning. (Photo Source: uvuphotos http://www.flickr.com/photos/uvuphotos/)

Campuses: a physical hub for learning. (Photo Source: uvuphotos http://www.flickr.com/photos/uvuphotos/)

Potential students seem to more actively seek colleges that provide a system of support, hinting at the growing dropout problem perpetuated by issues of unpreparedness and a disconnection from peers.  Students require some degree of interaction to achieve a successful college life, and the search trends reflect this need.

Students are starting to look for learning among peers. (Photo Source: velkr0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/velkr0/)

Students are starting to look for learning among peers. (Photo Source: velkr0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/velkr0/)

While the debate is still out on the effectiveness of distance learning, we may see a greater degree of interaction between the campus and online components of traditional universities. If the recent search numbers are any indication, students are not just looking for accessibility: they’re looking for community.