Inquiry, Interdisciplinary Study, and Minor Programs of Study

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Association for Interdisciplinary Studies


The inquiry form of liberal education conveys a much-needed sense of purpose for undergraduate education. Inquiry principles enable the assessment of conventional organizations and practices with much clearer criteria than currently available, and they call into sharp question the efficacy of relying exclusively on disciplinary criteria for organizing undergraduates' advanced, "in depth" study. Through an inquiry approach, we can see that academic disciplines are a part of the professional culture of academics rather than an expression of inherent properties of universal knowledge structures. This enables the case for interdisciplinary study to be made in cogent intellectual and pedagogical terms that do not implicitly accept the centrality of disciplines. The last section of the essay contains a proposal for a curricular structure that holds substantial promise in promoting the type of education advocated in the first two sections. While very aware of the danger of overstating the case, the proposal does directly and plausibly address some of the most pressing concerns in higher education.




Weaver, Frederick S. "Inquiry, Interdisciplinary Study, and Minor Programs of Study." Issues in Integrative Studies 4 (1986): 37-55.