As the scientific community increasingly grapples with wicked problems that defy easy solutions and that cannot be addressed through singular disciplinary lenses, higher education institutions have increasingly been called upon to develop interdisciplinary curricula at the undergraduate level— particularly in STEM fields. Ostensibly, these programs can prepare students to address multi-faceted, real-world problems while also giving them the skills necessary for the challenging realities of team science. However, while ample research has examined the tensions between disciplinary cultures and interdisciplinary programs for faculty and graduate students, relatively little is known about the experiences of undergraduate students in interdisciplinary programs. A particularly pressing knowledge gap concerns the motivations for the selection and development of an emerging identity as an interdisciplinarian within interdisciplinary programs.
In this talk, Dr. Ezekiel Kimball, associate dean for undergraduate and teacher education a the University of Maine College of Education and Human Development, will describe findings from a recent grounded theory study that included interviews with 45 STEM students and alumnx from an interdisciplinary program at a public research institution in the Northeastern United States. These findings reveal how undergraduate students understand interdisciplinarity, integrate it into their academic pathways, and frame interdisciplinarity’s role in their future careers. Although focused specifically on STEM undergraduates, implications from this study help understand tensions between students’ academic and professional identities as well as the role that projections of future selves play in understanding their undergraduate experiences.
The talk will take place in 207 Shibles Hall with a virtual option for those who can’t make it in person. Email email@example.com for a Zoom link.