Interest in doing, funding, and studying interdisciplinary work has built to crescendo in recent years. But despite this growing enthusiasm, our collective understanding of the dynamics, rewards, and challenges of faculty conversations across disciplines remains murky. Through six case studies of interdisciplinary seminars for faculty, Interdisciplinary Conversations investigates pivotal interdisciplinary conversations and analyzes the factors that make them work.
Past discussions about barriers to interdisciplinary collaborations fixate on funding, the academic reward system, and the difficulties of evaluating research from multiple fields. This book uncovers barriers that are hidden: disciplinary habits of mind, disciplinary cultures, and interpersonal dynamics. Once uncovered, these barriers can be broken down by faculty members and administrators. While clarion calls for interdisciplinarity rise in chorus, this book lays out a clear vision of how to realize the creative potential of interdisciplinary conversations.
About the author
Myra H. Strober is a labor economist and Emerita Professor of Education and of Economics at Stanford University. She is coauthor of The Road Winds Uphill All the Way: Gender, Work, and Family in the United States and Japan (1999), and the coeditor of Women and Poverty (1990).
"Leaders in family and consumer sciences will benefit from Myra Strober's candid, qualitative investigation and recommendations to encourage interdisciplinary conversations. She values cognitive diversity as a process to be nurtured and valued over time in order to create imaginative solutions for our world's complex problems. . . Interdisciplinary work is not an outcome but a process leading to probable outcomes, as Strober explains. The rewards for faculty and students are worth the challenges because it is our collective goal to integrate knowledge across disciplines to solve the complex problems of society."
—Carolyn Barnhart, Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences
"[T]his book offers readers new and intriguing insights into an overlooked critical aspect of interdisciplinarity—the conversations among faculty from different disciplines—and provides concrete suggestions for overcoming the challenges of interdisciplinary communication."
—Carolyn Haynes, Journal of Higher Education
"This book is a timely and important resource for all of us who are working to facilitate communication across disciplines. It is clear that solutions to the thorniest problems of the 21st century will require interdisciplinary collaboration, but, as Dr. Strober illustrates, the collaborative process is neither easy nor intuitive. This book provides valuable guidance about how to build those bridges across the disciplinary divides that will allow for more creative and effective problem-solving by experts from diverse fields."
—John L. Hennessy, President, Stanford University
"In this clear and lucid book, Strober illuminates the contributions of capable leaders to the work of interdisciplinary networks and projects. Drawing on her experience as a program officer, she has written a practically-minded and theoretically grounded book that will be particularly informative for academics interested in fostering successful interdisciplinary groups."
—Michele Lamont, Harvard University, author of How Professors Think: Inside the Curious World of Academic Judgment
"Myra Strober boldly challenges widely held assumptions about the value of interdisciplinary interactions and offers fresh and novel insights. If academic and administrative leaders follow her recommendations, they will greatly improve the chances of fostering successful interdisciplinary conversations."
—Steven Brint, University of California, Riverside, editor of The Future of the City of Intellect
"Meeting the challenges of our global society in the 21st century often demands that we raise our sights above the confines of our academic disciplinary training. Myra Strober offers a unique perspective on the opportunities and hurdles associated with fostering such creative interdisciplinary dialogues among scholars. The issues that she raises are important not only at research universities, but are also at the heart of consideration of today's liberal arts college curriculum."
—Janet L. Holmgren, President, Mills College
"An imaginative and well-tuned consideration of the practices, challenges, limitations, and possibilities of interdisciplinarity. Engaging, lucid, and fair, this is an invaluable read for anyone concerned with rhetoric and reality in contemporary academic life."
—Don Brenneis, University of California, Santa Cruz
"Myra Strober enriches understanding of the lived experience of conversations across disciplines with findings from in-depth interviews with members of six faculty seminars on a wide range of topics. She identifies barriers that impeded dialogue and strategies that made it fruitful, while also portraying the cognitive, social, and political dynamics of bridging differences in disciplinary cultures and habits of mind."
—Julie Thompson Klein, Wayne State University