MSUToday
Published: May 9, 2012

MSU conference promotes interdisciplinary teaching and learning

Contact(s): Andy Henion Media Communications office: (517) 355-3294 cell: (517) 281-6949 Andy.Henion@cabs.msu.edu, Aaron M. McCright Sociology and Lyman Briggs mccright@msu.edu

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Despite the complexity of today’s social and ecological challenges, university-level teaching and learning practices tend to perpetuate disciplinary boundaries that restrict fresh and creative approaches to complex problems. 

Efforts to initiate a shift towards more interdisciplinary practices are promising, but present their own difficult set of challenges.

To address these challenges, Michigan State University professors Aaron McCright and Elizabeth Simmons have organized the Conference on Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning, which takes place May 13-16 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center.

Invited speakers include 19 prominent scholars and practitioners of interdisciplinary teaching and learning from across the nation. Among the speakers is Miami University professor Carolyn Haynes, author of Innovations in Interdisciplinary Teaching (2002).

“Rarely do we take the time to ponder what interdisciplinary learning means, how it is enacted in practice, or how it is measured,” Haynes said. “This conference offers the unique opportunity to bring together interdisciplinary scholars and practitioners from around the country to explore best practices and generate new ideas for promoting the important and ever-growing form of education.”

Invited speakers will lead panel discussions that will inform subsequent workshops. One key conference outcome will be a white paper on best practices in interdisciplinary teaching and learning, which will be distributed widely in the summer.

The conference is organized around five session themes:

  • The roles of disciplines in interdisciplinary curricula
  • The contributions of specific pedagogies to interdisciplinary learning
  • Global engagement in interdisciplinary teaching and learning
  • Assessing interdisciplinary curricular/learning outcomes
  • Meeting administrative and institutional challenges

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