My colleagues complain about the difficulty getting suitably qualified PhD students for their interdisciplinary research, but they don’t even think about developing them; they expect them to have been magicked up from somewhere (Lyall et al. 2015).
Some of the most complex social, environmental, and economic challenges we face today require interdisciplinary working. Employers increasingly call for graduates who are subject experts, but can also work collaboratively with other experts across disciplines to meet global and industry challenges. Higher education institutions tend to develop discipline expertise effectively. Actively building students’ capacity to collaborate beyond these, however, is not so common.
Learning for the Future
The aim of the Learning for the Future toolkit is to help higher education staff create interdisciplinary modules where students can learn and practice the skills needed to do interdisciplinary work.
This toolkit was funded by the HEFCE Catalyst Fund and developed by the University of Plymouth. Informed by innovative and experimental practice, the toolkit:
- provides a rationale for teaching interdisciplinarity
- offers a model of interdisciplinary skills that can be taught to students and made explicit to future employers
- suggests ways to design modules and address logistic and practical issues
- explains how to engage students as co-educators
- helps you to evaluate success.