What is Interdisciplinary: Definition and 21 Discussions

Interdisciplinarity or interdisciplinary studies involves the combination of two or more academic disciplines into one activity (e.g., a research project). It draws knowledge from several other fields like sociology, anthropology, psychology, economics etc. It is about creating something by thinking across boundaries. It is related to an interdiscipline or an interdisciplinary field, which is an organizational unit that crosses traditional boundaries between academic disciplines or schools of thought, as new needs and professions emerge. Large engineering teams are usually interdisciplinary, as a power station or mobile phone or other project requires the melding of several specialties. However, the term "interdisciplinary" is sometimes confined to academic settings.
The term interdisciplinary is applied within education and training pedagogies to describe studies that use methods and insights of several established disciplines or traditional fields of study. Interdisciplinarity involves researchers, students, and teachers in the goals of connecting and integrating several academic schools of thought, professions, or technologies—along with their specific perspectives—in the pursuit of a common task. The epidemiology of HIV/AIDS or global warming requires understanding of diverse disciplines to solve complex problems. Interdisciplinary may be applied where the subject is felt to have been neglected or even misrepresented in the traditional disciplinary structure of research institutions, for example, women's studies or ethnic area studies. Interdisciplinarity can likewise be applied to complex subjects that can only be understood by combining the perspectives of two or more fields.
The adjective interdisciplinary is most often used in educational circles when researchers from two or more disciplines pool their approaches and modify them so that they are better suited to the problem at hand, including the case of the team-taught course where students are required to understand a given subject in terms of multiple traditional disciplines. For example, the subject of land use may appear differently when examined by different disciplines, for instance, biology, chemistry, economics, geography, and politics.

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  1. S

    Looking for interdisciplinary institutes/groups (Europe preferred)

    Hi everyone, first time posting here! ;) Does anyone have good suggestions for interdisciplinary groups (preferably based in Europe), focusing on a physics topic/problem? I am considering doing a PhD, and currently, I am doing the broadest research for places. I don't mind if the research is...
  2. ElectronicTeaCup

    Studying Learning mathematics in an interdisciplinary program

    Hello everyone! I finished a masters in integrative neuroscience about a year back, which was supposed to have a very strong mathematics tilt. Despite this, and the two semesters of mathematics, I feel that it did not help me out much. I ended up doing my masters thesis in a lab of physicists...
  3. E

    (This is not a question) Interdisciplinarity

    Hi! I'm a Computer Science & Engg. BSc. graduate from Paraguay, having followed also 1 1/2 years of Psychology paralelly. My interest is nothing but understanding the universe, in all its shapes and flavors: physical, mathematical, biological, or our subjective one, etc. Particularly, the...
  4. P

    Programs Can one conduct interdisciplinary work as a biological psych researcher?

    I am a undergraduate in a non clinical psychology with a special focus in evolutionary psychology, human nature, and personality. I will keep it short and sweet: - What restrictions are on me as a biological psychologist compared to that of a biologist in terms of conducting research? - Can I...
  5. D

    Programs Is interdisciplinary engineering worth the money?

    I am considering a masters in interdisciplinary engineering from Purdue with a concentration in either systems engineering or computational engineering. Is this a waste of my time and money compared to just getting an aerospace masters and taking courses in systems engineering or computational...
  6. EternusVia

    Programs Intersection of Physics and Applied Math?

    Hello all, I am interested in both physics and applied math. One of my professors is willing to work with me to get into a great applied math school, but I don't want to abandon my passion for physics. Is there work being done at the intersection of applied math and physics? Is it reasonable...
  7. I

    Master Thesis Topic: GR & Statistical Mechanics

    Hello! I am a master student, and I am about to start working on my master thesis, which, in my counrty, is a substantial work of 6 months which usually involves original research. I will be supervised by two professors of Statistical Mechanics, who have many research interest. In these days...
  8. VoteSaxon

    Preparing for Multiple Science Exams: Tips and Strategies

    Just panicking before exams, thanks to everyone who can clear things up for me across the sciences. You are doing a great service. Immense thanks again, enjoy your weekends!
  9. X

    Interdisciplinary Senior Project vs Senior Project Only In Physics

    I did an REU this summer at the university I go to and thanks G-d we got a lot more work done then expected. The REU was in Chaos theory, and we are waiting for the supercomputer to spit out some results and if the results are what as predicted we'll be able to write a paper in which I'll be...
  10. D

    Programs Need guidance about interdisciplinary degrees/programs

    Hello all, This is my first post here but I read these forums a lot as a lurker. I have a Bachelor's degree in Electronic Engineering and am currently pursuing master's in energy science and engineering from an interdisciplinary department. Based on the electives I have taken, I will be...
  11. F

    B.S Vs. Interdisciplinary B.S.

    I am currently an undergraduate college student that is in a dilemma. I have been in college for a long time, I am currently in my sixth year. My advisor has given me two options: graduate at the end of my sixth year with an "inter-disclipinary" B.S. in geosciences, or spend have one additional...
  12. N

    Programs What is the most interdisciplinary STEM Major?

    My question is my exact title, what is the most interdisciplinary STEM major? I was wondering because I want to be interdisciplinary and someone told me ChemE and it seems interesting but I have no clue what ChemE's do exactly and the tools they use and what they are able to do with what they...
  13. Pythagorean

    Interdisciplinary Academic Career

    I have a goal of starting a new program in a particular school. It's an established program and the school has all the pieces of it (contributing departments with the right specialties)... but... if you want to be involved in cross-department research, early on in your career, who do you apply...
  14. jbrussell93

    Preparation for interdisciplinary grad programs

    I chose physics knowing that I probably will not go to graduate school for pure physics. I'm interested in interdisciplinary research whether that is in EE, biophysics, or Earth science, etc I do not yet know (though I'm leaning geophysics). I switched from engineering to physics because I like...
  15. D

    How Can Engineers Approach Chemistry Through Interdisciplinary Projects?

    I am devising some extra credit projects and/or problems for my students. Very few (in fact, only one) are actually studying chemistry. The rest are mostly engineers. I was hoping to come up with some things which would let them come at chemistry from the perspective of their other...
  16. K

    Interdisciplinary grad studies in Canada

    I'm starting out a Joint Honors Compsci/Physics program, and I'm interested in getting into computational physics. However, I LOVE computer science and want to learn about it as well - So I've decided on going for an interdisciplinary master's/phd. So far I know that Memorial university offers...
  17. P

    Looking for some help: interdisciplinary programs

    I have 1 more year as an undergraduate physics major. I've been looking for programs that are really a mixture of physics and something else (say engineering of medicine, but mostly physics). I've found some really good programs. These programs are titled Applied Science and Medical Engineering...
  18. G

    Programs Searching for Interdisciplinary PhD Program on Logic

    Is there any PhD Program in US on logic where I can apply as a student with a computer science background and further combine my interest in logic, philosophy, math and computer science? For now, I only know a program at CMU, which is PhD Program in Pure and Applied Logic.
  19. N

    GRE's for INterdisciplinary Programmes

    Hi all, Are there GRE's for interdisciplinary programmes and how do graduates schools(for PHD) in the States handle interdiscplinary programme requirements (I understand that it varies from school to school.)? As an interdiscplinary student, I'm not sure if I'm capable of doing well on...
  20. N

    Schools HELP: Interdisciplinary programmes in GRAD SCHOOL

    Hi I graduated 2 years ago with a BSc in Neural Computation /w minor Astrophysics. The past 2 years I've tried to learn game programming but I realized my passion is simulating the sciences in 3D environments(particularly Astrophysics and ALife/Cogsci). I was a B+ student with avg...
  21. Y

    Suggestions for interdisciplinary subjects w/ comp sci major

    I was interested if anyone had suggestions of fields of study to couple with a computer science major. Thanks -Yoss