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CLS Class Highlight – Interdisciplinary Inquiry

students examine cistine chapel in interdisciplinary inquiry

What class?

Interdisciplinary Inquiry

Why is it cool?

This course is the foundation for all the undergraduate programs in the College of Liberal Studies. In a rapidly changing world, interdisciplinary education is essential to meet the personal needs of an individual along with the needs of society. Today, individuals literally face constant erosion or obsolescence of their technical or professional education. Moreover, on a broader level, they also seek unspecialized knowledge that can offer solutions to central problems that relate to their personal growth and to the preservation and enhancement of the free society.

What separates Interdisciplinary Inquiry from other classes is the opportunity for exploration, innovation and discovery. Imagine studying such diverse topics as the Gutenberg printing press, the sculptures and paintings of Michelangelo, nanotechnology, the Egyptian Sphinx and the theory of the snowball earth! The course itself received a major upgrade this semester with the addition of several new videos and interactive components to help students learn how the sciences, the arts and society need each other to answer the big and complex questions that we all ask.

“Interdisciplinary education and specialized professional or technical education complement each other as they serve the unified, integrated individual,” said instructor Robert Dougherty. “Interdisciplinary education gives meaning, provides motivation and purpose, and lends a critical perspective that enables the specialist to adapt his competence to a changing world. It is my hope that every student who takes this course will be able to transfer it to whatever specialization or profession they are currently in.”

What you learn here you can take with you the rest of your life. In this class, you learn how to learn. Specialization and interdisciplinary education make up two ends of an educational continuum. Because it serves broad objectives and purposes, interdisciplinary education tends to be more adaptable. It assists the individual in understanding and solving personal problems, helps preserve and enhance a free society and integrates isolated bodies of factual information into some sense of unity. The incredible volume of sources demand that the individual select, synthesize, generalize, evaluate and apply diverse and fragmented learning. Putting all these pieces together is the work of interdisciplinary education, for interdisciplinary education regards knowledge as a unified whole.

See what else is being offered by the College of Liberal Studies.

Mary Wuestewald
Mary Wuestewald specializes in digital and content marketing at OU Outreach. In 2015, she earned a master's degree in Strategic Communication from OU’s College of Journalism and Mass Communication. She currently contributes to Insight magazine, the CLS blog and CLS social media efforts.

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