Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The importance of interdisciplinary thinking in terms of global problems

I found this very interesting article by Robert J. Sternberg. This article talks about interdisciplinary approach being an alternative to current majors and minors. The first 4 paragraphs are the most relevant. Sternberg points out that there are important problems in today’s society. For example, epidemics, terrorism, global warming and finding an ethical leaders. These problems can be only solved through multidisciplinary thinking. Sternberg uses example of the management of epidemics. The successful management of epidemics requires more disciplines to solve the problem. For example, it includes biologists to understand the cellular mechanisms, medical researchers to study potential cures, epidemiologists to understand the spread of the diseases, psychologists to understand how people can behave in ways to minimize spread of the diseases, political scientists to work with governments to adopt national and international policies, economists to study the costs of and funding mechanisms for managing epidemics, sociologists to understand how societies perceive health threats and react to them, historians to see whether we can learn from the past and do not repeat mistakes. There is an importance for the individual to have this kind of interdisciplinary background to better understand the problem. I really like Sternberg’s argument to it: “In the absence of such background, the individual is like the blind person feeling one part of an elephant, but not understanding that it is an elephant that he or she is feeling.” I really like this statement and I think it shows how limited is person with only one background. There is need for connection and cooperation between different disciplines. A person with only one perspective will not get the whole picture and won’t be able to get a comprehensive understanding of the problem.
What do you guys think about it?

I think this article is very relevant to my Interdisciplinary Studies major of International Studies. Today’s world has many global problems that require an interdisciplinary approach in order to solve them. Problems such as terrorism, diseases, environmental degradation, overfishing, border disputes need a variety of disciplines to work towards a successful resolution. Experts from different disciplines need to work together and integrate their perspectives. For example, the problem of deforestation won’t be solved only by biologists. It will require political scientists, sociologists, geographers, environmentalists, etc. In order to better understand the world and to solve the global problems, it is crucial to integrate different disciplines. Therefore, it is necessary for young students to get the interdisciplinary thinking at schools because they need to be prepared to face the global problems that occur and will occur in the future. 

Here is more information about the article:

It is important to understand the connection between global issues and realize how they integrate with each other.

1 comment:

  1. The elephant parable is cited in our textbook as well! It's a wonderful way to think about the importance of interdisciplinarity, and in your field in particular, it's crucial that we understand why these kinds of integrated approaches matter. When we think about global issues like ebola or measles or terrorism or climate change, it's easy to see how singular perspectives will fail to address the problems. We need to have a multicultural and interdisciplinary approach. I think your degree is really going to prepare you to do important things for humanity, Iveta!