Interdisciplinary Integration in Professional Education: Tools and Analysis from Cultural Historical Activity Theory
The purpose of this paper is to introduce readers of Issues in Integrative Studies to cultural historical activity theory (CHAT). CHAT represents a systems approach to understanding the sociocultural matrix in which knowledge is transmitted and transformed. Although it was developed in the context of early-childhood learning, CHAT is now invoked in a wide variety of educational and organizational settings. To ground an overview of this intricate theory, we begin the paper by summarizing our own recent study of an issue in integrative learning. That study addressed the challenges of cross-disciplinary integration for students in a professional graduate program of water resources science, policy, and management. In the paper's second major section, we present the origins and development of CHAT and current research based on it. In the final section, referring again to the water program study, we explain how CHAT's conceptual and descriptive tools could be employed to help students integrate knowledge across disciplines in the context of water-related social issues. We hope that this introduction to CHAT suggests to readers other applications of the theory in situations where the object is to understand dynamic connections among interlocked systems. The general relevance of CHAT to the integrative studies community may lie in its demonstrating the critical importance, to the productive growth of any collective endeavor, of identifying, engaging, and expanding beyond inevitable systemic contradictions.
Minnis, Michele. "Interdisciplinary Integration in Professional Education: Tools and Analysis from Cultural Historical Activity Theory." Issues in integrative Studies 24 (2006): 32-88.
Show full item record