Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Education

Interdisciplinary Education brief cover


  • During the most recent decade, interdisciplinary instruction at the undergraduate level has increased rapidly.

  • Independent colleges and universities are both innovators in developing new approaches to interdisciplinary education and strong supporters of traditional liberal arts disciplines. Some observers argue that interdisciplinary approaches are better suited to the complexity of the 21st-century world and workplace.

  • Significant barriers to interdisciplinarity include institutional inertia, evaluation challenges, the strong commitment of faculty members to the disciplines in which they were trained, and the role of discipline-based departments in curricula and faculty rewards.

  • The size, flexibility, and commitment to teaching at smaller independent institutions can make it easier for them to introduce innovative programs in interdisciplinary education.

  • Campus leaders can promote and sustain interdisciplinary initiatives by developing and supporting policies that explicitly reward faculty members and departments for interdisciplinary teaching.

​Council of Independent Colleges
By Philip M. Katz
May 2015

Academic Experience