This was a very uniquely portrayed story and reminded me of Jim Henson’s, “Hey, Cinderella!” a movie I loved to watch growing up. The two characters in the Frog Prince interacted in an argumentative fashion, each holding a strong disdain for the other. The Princess couldn’t be bothered by a lowly Frog and the Frog couldn’t stand the materialistic mindset of the Princess. The role of the princess in this story was that she was vain and deceitful, only thinking of herself. The Frog croaked back that “one person can hardly be called a society” which nicely summed up the way many fairy tales rely on the princess as the center of the plot.
Essentially, the two stories, Little Snow White by the Brothers Grimm, and Red as Blood by Tanith Lee, are depictions of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Each story follows a similar plot: A mother gives her daughter, Snow White, distinct features. Hair black as ebony, skin white as snow, and lips red as blood. The mother then has an all foreseeing mirror who assures her that she’s the fairest in the land, until she’s not. Each mother, birth and step, become angry at Snow White and seek to kill her to remain the most beautiful in the land. Both stories revolve around vanity, jealousy, power and lust. The mothers vanity drives her to kill her daughter so that she can remain the most beautiful. I really enjoyed reading Red as Blood for the religious component, an interesting spin. In this version Snow White isn’t a feeble minded girl but a watchful and understanding princess who quickly identifies to her father her step mothers intentions. Complimented through distinct subtleties, both stories tell about a vengeful, evil mother and a beautiful daughter.
I’ve grown up with the fairy tales of Walt Disney: princesses, glass slippers and forbidden fruits. Growing up, I was enchanted by the stories but as I grew older the happy endings and musical scores became cliches. I hope to learn about the origins of fairy tales to help keep my interest in them alive.
I remember being in middle school and learning about the Grimm Brothers original version of the Little Mermaid story and feeling shocked but excited at how gruesome it was. It left me wondering what the purpose of the story was and who it was intended for. Later on I found other stories and nursery rhymes to be equally as dark and my interest peaked for unhappy endings (needless to say I was a big fan of GOT Red Wedding…) and a more realistic approach to fantasy.
It’s with the rise of the growing Third Millennium that big changes are made throughout our universities. It’s evident that we utilize current technology in our education: LiveTweeting through assigned readings, constructing work through group chats, and submitting papers via an online classroom. This shift in our current technology has impacted the way we learn, we’re connected.
Oskar Gruenwald, the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Institute of Interdisciplinary Research, believes that Interdisciplinary Studies and approaches are on the forefront of the new university system. In his article, The Promise of Interdisciplinary Studies: Re-Imagining the University, he writes that,
“In the Third Millennium, interdisciplinary approaches to learning suggest new methodologies that seek dialogue and integration of research findings across the disciplines to overcome the compartmentalization of knowledge which hinders new discoveries in the natural sciences and “connecting-the-dots” in the social and behavioral sciences, while humanities are key to understanding the emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of human beings.”.
He believes that University as we know it is in crisis and that a re-invention is necessary. Our current system of higher education lacks a distinct wholeness, a connection outside of a traditional discipline. Gruenwald anticipates that more schools adapt to an interdisciplinary approach, although many already have. Brown University, Virginia Tech, North Carolina State University, University of Florida, University of Notre Dame, and (drum roll, please) Plymouth State University, are among a growing list of schools that are implementing connected learning. Just this year, Plymouth State introduced their Integrated Cluster Approach: “A multi-disciplinary, innovative and hands on approach to learning” essentially becoming one of the first schools in the United States to integrate multidisciplinary work on the grand scale of the university. Gruenwald recognizes that there are challenges that come with introducing an interdisciplinary approach but notes that student involvement isn’t one of them. “What attracts students most to interdisciplinary studies is the prospect of clarifying the interrelationships among various fields that show the relevance of theory to practice and real life” he writes.
This information comes as no surprise to my Interdisciplinary Studies peers and I, as we are learning exactly what we want, how we want. We’re intentional, receptive and connected; feeling as though we are entrepreneurs of a new generation of learners.
I find it interesting that a discussion about Interdisciplinary Studies ultimately becomes a conversation about qualifications. It’s without fail that I will explain my approach to Marketing & Creative Services and will no sooner be asked what classes I’m taking, why I chose those particular classes, why didn’t I just major in marketing (wow, I’ve never thought of that before) and the dreaded,
“What do you plan on doing with that”.
Their initial curiosity transforms into speculation as they furrow their brow, unsure of my direction. No one questions the career intent of a biology major or a professional sales major, so why does a degree in interdisciplinary studies become a question of my future success?
There is an attitudinal barrier that separates how people perceive the quality of an education from a traditional, single discipline student, versus a non-traditional, interdisciplinary student. In the article, Barriers to Interdisciplinary Research and Training, it elaborates on the belief that interdisciplinary work is less challenging and more high-risk with the idea that,”those who do collaborative work could not succeed in their own discipline; they would be lost in a team effort and ‘lose their professional identity'”. There are social and academic obstacles that come with studying in an interdisciplinary setting that undeniably set us apart from our peers, and this led me to wonder, how will our degree set us apart in the workplace?
Interdisciplinary Studies allows its students to create their own professional identity and brand themselves based on the disciplines within their program. Yet, even with a diverse background and comprehensive training in each of my fields, I’m worried that I won’t find my niche in the job market. I’m afraid of that dreaded, “you can’t sit with us” moment. Self-doubt and employment rates aside, it’s my fundamental belief that my major has allowed me to be more qualified than other candidates. In comparison to applicants who would all have a single marketing degree, my degree would encompass marketing, communications and visual studies, granting me additional skills outside of a single discipline and help expand my career opportunities far beyond a cubicle farm. Being versed in several disciplines isn’t the only benefit I can present to employers, simply being interdisciplinary teaches a student so much. My work ethic, problem solving and initiative are heightened, but the leadership skills I’ve gained have been a milestone in my professional and personal development. Barriers to Interdisciplinary Research and Training wrote,
“Interdisciplinary research teams need leaders who understand the challenges of group dynamics and who can establish and maintain an integrated program. Leaders need to have vision, creativity, and perseverance… to coordinate the efforts of a diverse team requires credibility as a research scientist, skill in modulating strong personalities, the ability to draw out individual strengths, and skill in the use of group dynamics to blend individual strengths into a team”.
It’s easy for me to be afraid of the challenges that may lie ahead when it comes to my career opportunities or personal success, but it’s easier to trust that Interdisciplinary Studies has prepared me for those challenges. So, the next time someone asks, “what do you plan on doing with that” it won’t be a question of qualifications but rather a chance where I can elaborate on all that I’m qualified for.
The traditional education and university system will fail you. They will give you a degree but will not sincerely prepare you for the real world. Groomed to not question the educational assembly line that has been laid out in front of you, your next four years in higher education will fly by. Honor grades, test scores and low quality of work will allow you to navigate through your previously designed major with ease.
Wouldn’t you like more from your education? Interdisciplinary Studies identifies the exceptional from the common by reaching beyond a single discipline to create an engaging learning experience. In Ronald A. Styron Jr’s, Interdisciplinary Education: A Reflection of the Real World he believes that an honest interdisciplinary approach to education is what is needed to: “better connect theory and content with application, and better prepare students for the real world of the 21st century”. It’s true that interdisciplinary studies is the connecting link between education and application and does so through its open pedagogy approach. Hallmarks of open pedagogy are its ability to be expansive, open, and give construction back to the student.
Student construction is one of the many reasons I feel like I belong in Interdisciplinary Studies.
In my blog post, Outreaching, I discussed why I had to extend myself out of the confines of my traditional discipline and into something more suited with my real life career goals. With this freedom I gained an appreciation for what I was learning. Styron Jr. writes about this feeling as, “interdisciplinary education helps to increase student achievement by promoting positive attitudes toward subject matter, creating curricular flexibility, and integrating rapidly changing information with increased efficiency”. I was never interested in just one discipline, but many. Instead of just using critical thinking and traditional learning methods I began to utilize my creativity and was encouraged to collaborate with my peers by using the system of open pedagogy. Interdisciplinary Education: A Reflection of the Real World, highlights the benefits of open pedagogy:
“This increases the ability of students to make decisions and synthesize knowledge beyond single disciplines,increase the ability to identify, assess, and transfer significant information needed for problem solving, gain a better overall comprehension of global interdependencies, and develop multiple perspectives, points of view, and values.”
Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry, two childhood friends teamed up to create one of the most successful soap brands in stores today. They saw an opportunity to turn the chemical filled shelves of cleaning aisles into something with more pizzazz. Together they created Method, a brand whose vision is:
“Produce surface cleaners and soaps made from nontoxic, mostly natural ingredients, like coconut oil and plants, and package them in sleek modern bottles that people would want to display in their kitchens and bathrooms”.
They found a breakthrough in the cleaning industry through interdisciplinary thinking by combining high efficiency green cleaners with colorful, fun packaging. Instead of being so serious and informative about their mission to go green they made it different, and it helped to stand out to consumers. Today, their products can be found in more than 400 stores and amass an annual revenue of $100 million a year (Method).
Making an enticing cleaning product allowed this brand to stand out in flourish in a saturated market. The simple touch of colors, shape and their mission has allowed them to achieve greats sales and customer loyalty.