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ID Program Faculty

Notes—Meeting with Interdisciplinary Programs

24 September 2012

Attendees: John Gould, Heidi Lewis, Dennis McEnnerney, Gail Murphy-Geiss, Eric Perramond, Tomi-Ann Roberts, Corinne Scheiner, James Silvester, Alistaire Tallent, Barbara Whitten, Lyrae Williams, Sandi Wong, Naomi Wood

Extending our reach: For what should we be known?

  • We provide more pedagogical freedom for faculty than at most places.  We do have a heavy teaching load, but since we teach more, we can teach a wider variety of courses.
  • We do more innovative teaching, in part because of the block plan.  ID programs are a place where innovative teaching can become enhanced.
  • ID research is particularly well suited for outreach to the community (local and beyond).  Example: CC Consults Group does work with a public or timely appeal.  We could take something like this out on the road.  We are good at taking what we do and putting it into a digestible and understandable form for intelligent people.  We should strive to reach those outside of the academy and make what we do accessible to all.
  • Domestic campus: perhaps in Denver or an urban campus in the southwest. The Southwest is not just rivers, mountains, etc.
  • We should be known for living-learning pedagogy.  However, currently students are not applying their “D”-minds outside of class.



  • Place is highly important to interdisciplinary programs. There is a sense of marginalization both in a physical sense and with respect to divisions.
  • A sense of place is a sense of home, which is what ID programs provide for many students.  ID Programs provide a place where one can make connections.
  • An academic building for ID programs: would enhance collaboration, relieve isolation, and develop a sense of strength.  There should be physical space in these buildings for those who do not have appointments in the programs but are involved.  One could apply for an ID semester, receive office space in the ID building, and work on ID projects then.  There should be space for convergence classes.


Engaged Teaching and Learning

  • Structure: The marginalization mentioned above is in part due to lack of structure for ID programs.  One possibility would be to organize ID programs so that certain courses (methods, senior thesis) were shared, taught by one person.  How can we restructure the ID programs so that they can work better together?  Perhaps we need to create an ID division, a department of critical studies, or a department of regional studies.  Divisions are divisive.  Perhaps we should get rid of them altogether.  The college says it is committed to collaborations.  If so, then it should support ID programs.
  • Support: The great strength of our ID programs is due in part to the willingness of the college to support team-teaching.  However, support has diminished.  We need to return to a higher level of support.  How do we support faculty who teach in ID programs, particularly those who do not have departmental appointments? How do we support faculty and students whose work is interdisciplinary in nature?  Although CC does have a rich tradition of ID teaching and learning, it is a result of entrepreneurial faculty, not of institutional support.  Departments are not as generous as they used to be, in part due to move to 6-block year.  Current junior faculty report that teaching outside of the department has not been seen as standard practice.  For example, junior faculty are told they can co-teach or teach outside of the program, but only if the department can first cover its core curriculum.
  • Staffing: We lack joint appointments between departments and ID programs.  Perhaps we should have a rule like Macalaster’s that you must have 3 people to have a program.  How can we put people in lines so that they are in more than one program/department?
  • Importance of ID Programs: ID programs provide a common intellectual ground where we can come together as a community, as multiple communities. They support our goal of creating critical thinkers.  They ask students to deconstruct and reconstruct in a new environment, which is exactly what the block plan is all about.  They provide a space where synthesis has to happen. Some ID programs give students an appreciation of theory and its link(s) to practice.  By constantly asking students to identify theory underpinning given disciplines, they are the place in which the rubber hits the road in terms of disciplinary knowledge.  ID programs offer an alternate perspective on the problems we tend not to get into in disciplines.  They provide a space to do that and then send people back to their disciplines.  And, some ID programs become disciplines and may become departments.
  • Classes in ID programs tend to be more diverse.  Tomi-Ann Roberts has produced a report on this topic.