MyAmericanFuture

MyAmericanFuture
MyAmericanFuture

Thursday, September 3, 2015

September 3, 2015: Fall 2015 Previews: Interdisciplinary Studies Capstone



[As another Fall semester kicks off, a series of preview posts—this time focusing on new things I’ll be trying this semester. Leading up to a special pedagogy post this weekend!]
Three reasons I’m very excited to be teaching our IDIS Capstone for the first time.
1)      The Senior Projects: I’ve had the chance over the years to serve as the advisor for a number of individual such projects, in which our IDIS majors combine three distinct disciplines into one culminating effort. To cite two examples: a student combined English, Psychology, and Human Services/Counseling to create a novella about domestic abuse; another combined English, Art, and Communications/Media to create the opening pages of a graphic novel about King Arthur. These projects exemplify interdisciplinarity and undergraduate achievement, and in this Capstone course I’ll have the chance to work for the first time with a group of students as they design, research, and produce their senior projects. Can’t wait!
2)      Applying Interdisciplinarity: Alongside their work on those individual projects, the course also features a shared topic and group of readings and materials. For my version, I plan to modify and adapt my summer graduate course on Analyzing 21st Century America, asking the students to use a variety of texts, media, and disciplinary perspectives to analyze such topics as #BlackLivesMatter, satire and humor in American culture, controversies and debates in sports, and the role of the media and popular culture in our unfolding presidential election. I hope that these collective conversations will inform the students’ individual projects, but in any case I know that they will produce valuable insights on our 21st century moment and culture, and on what interdisciplinary thinking offers us as members of that society. Can’t wait!
3)      I’m Me!: I don’t imagine that readers of this blog will need much convincing that I’m very much about interdisciplinarity. But long before I began blogging, that concept and skill has informed nearly every academic decision and goal of mine: from choosing to major in History and Literature to working to create an American Studies program at Fitchburg State, to name only two of the nearly limitless examples of this emphasis. I also work to bring interdisciplinarity into every class I teach. But at the same time, the IDIS Capstone will be the first course I’ve taught where interdisciplinary research and writing, reading and analysis, thinking and scholarship will comprise the most central elements and goals. So I say once more, with feeling, can’t wait!
Last preview tomorrow,
Ben
PS. What do you think? Things you’re hoping to try or do this fall?

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