Disciplinary Hegemony Meets Interdisciplinary Ascendancy: Can Interdisciplinary/Integrative Studies Survive, and, If So, How?


This paper explores the increasing challenges and possible solutions to the sustainability of undergraduate interdisciplinary studies programs at public universities in North America. It analyzes the causes of the current trend that is threatening to undercut experimental and innovative programs in undergraduate interdisciplinary teaching and learning. It asks and seeks to answer why this threat is happening now, at a time of increased recognition of the value and significance of interdisciplinarity, a time when interdisciplinarity is in its ascendancy. It documents some key indicators of this ascendancy and explains why this growth poses a threat to the ideology of disciplinary hegemony. It points out that this threat is particularly acute: during times of declining state budgets for public higher education; when there is a rise of big science and the diminution of liberal arts; and when the politics of grant funding celebrates interdisciplinarity as a strategy for grant success. The paper concludes by identifying strategies to combat these challenges to interdisciplinary undergraduate education. In particular, it describes the tactics of resistance deployed against the politics and practice that threaten merger, downsizing or actual closure of IDS programs. Finally, the paper suggests the development of a dialogue on policy to both inform and to provide a resource base for those programs facing similar challenges in the future.




Henry, Stuart. "Disciplinary hegemony meets interdisciplinary ascendancy: Can interdisciplinary/integrative studies survive, and, if so, how." Issues in integrative studies 23 (2005): 1-37.