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.”
Do not let the traditional ways of education dishearten you to what your education can be. No complex issue can be solved with a single discipline, single belief system, or by a single individual. An interdisciplinary education is the best approach to prepare students for complicated experiences outside of the classroom by teaching them interdisciplinary pedagogical strategies. It’s from my own personal assessment that I can testify to this strategy as I have gained copious amounts of new skills and better understood concepts from being outside of a traditional classroom.
When we are faced with the natural struggle of defeat, unhappiness or anything in life that ales you, we’re told to reach out.
“Reach out to your teacher for help”
“Have you reached out to your doctor yet?”
“Consider reaching out to your friends”
The definition of reach isto extend; to stretch; to thrust out; to put forth – and can be interpreted in all aspects of life. But what happens when you extend yourself for help or to look for answers and your reach is met with nothing? This was my experience with the system of higher education: I felt like my perfect major was out of reach.
So I began to outreach.
In three years, I had been to two different schools and had arguably been in four majors, each one letting me down a little harder than the last. I wasn’t looking for easy A’s or an impressive transcript, I needed a fulfilling educational experience. In Carly Ristuccia’s “Standing Alone” she described my problem with standard college majors,
“…if everyone just stuck to guidelines and tradition, the world would never grow and would never have the chance to become any better”.
Until I majored in Interdisciplinary Studies I was beginning to lose hope that college could be a valuable part of my education. In my pursuit of the perfect major I began to outreach: to reach further than; to surpass or exceed; to go further than the school system allowed me. I started to network myself in ways that I never had before, on and off campus, that granted me friendships with advisers who I previously wouldn’t have connected with. I was producing more thoughtful and lasting work, and I caught myself loving to learn. Even homework stopped feeling like a daunting part of my day and instead became the way I interacted with my peers and saw what new things they were learning. After I had submitted the application for my programs approval I felt empowered: I defeated the diploma mill.
Too often when a student enters a university they prefer a handout, an experience where they’re able to reach out and be given what they desire. Instead, I looked for a hand-up: a program where I was forced to outreach what I had previously known to achieve something that hasn’t already been done before.
My program is named Marketing and Creative Services and is designed to connect visual arts with professional business and communication. With a creative mindset, I am able to envision what doesn’t exist and I strive to create a different future, one better than the present. My ability to create and articulate my vision has manifested in the way that I have designed my major. I chose Interdisciplinary Studies because I quickly realized that the established learning style of the university system could only take me so far when building the foundation for my career. With my Interdisciplinary Studies degree, I’ve incorporated the fields of visual arts, marketing and communication to allow me to a take a fresh approach to traditional business. I plan to pursue creative work such as writing, designing and producing for agencies in the fields of advertising, public relations, branding and talent. Currently, there’s no major or minor offered at Plymouth State that could truly satisfy a creative marketing approach and it’s important that the disciplines in my major feel integrated instead of simply sitting side by side.
I originally started my college education at Massachusetts College of Art and Design before transferring to Plymouth State University. With my background in visual arts, I learned a system of nontraditional communication that utilizes areas like line, composition, shape and space. All of these visual components help translate creative work in a professional setting. Visual Language (AH1140) emphasized traditional and nontraditional work done in 2-D fields, while learning about fundamental visual concepts like color, composition and content. Design History 1650-1920 (AH2999) taught me the origins of democratic design interpreted to the Do-It-Yourself movement and how we relate that to the products we use today. Understanding this concept has given me insight on how consumers understand and connect with mass produced goods. Form Study 3-D (AR1065) benefited the way that I understood objects in the idea of their scale, volume, mass and shape. This information can be widely beneficial when thinking about the products that you are creating and how your audience will interact with them. Drawing Projects (AR3520) strengthened my design discipline and enhanced my creative thinking, seeing and communication skills. I’m incorporating these core classes into my major because they have undeniably improved my craftsmanship, idea exploration and critical thinking skills.
Having a foundation in business with an attention to communication is how I plan on executing my vision. Learning to innovate collaboratively will transform my creative output and taking fundamental marketing classes will help my vision exist within many branches of business. Principles of Marketing (BU2450) will be the core of my business education by introducing marketing strategies. I’m very excited to learn how to innovate, promote and create ways to market products and businesses. Business Law (BU2480) was a crash course in legal practices and ethical conduct in a workplace. I added this course to my major after learning how beneficial it is to be legally ethical in a workplace. Professional Selling Skills I (BU3280) will help improve my technical development of sales, assessments and professional communication. Consumer Behavior (BU3340) will benefit my understanding of customers through psychology and sociology at an individual and group level. This combination of working within myself and a team appeals to me because I am interested in both freelance and contracted work. Branding and Marketing Communications (BU3370) will educate me on how to positively influence a consumer with promotional communication. I can also combine my visual background to help me achieve standout advertisements that can make an impact to the consumer. Corporate Public Relations (BU3600) will better develop my understanding for maintaining a brand or a client’s reputation and image. This class will strengthen my professional writing skills, a main component of communication. Business Innovation (BU3380) will be the highlight of my marketing classes. I’m excited to take this course because it teaches me how to continue learning upon graduation. My capstone project will allow me to bring the concepts I have learned throughout the class to life.
As a branch of marketing, professional communication courses will assist in developing the messages that I’m trying to deliver to my audience. Introduction to Media and Cultural Studies (CM2770) encourages me to explore how the media relates to cultural studies. Discovering the influence that communication theory has on the media will be relevant to my career and give me a better understanding of how to be an effective communicator in the workplace. Social Media Audience Engagement (CM2991) acknowledges the way an audience interacts with a social media presence. I’ll enjoy learning how to develop this presence through creativity, analytics and critical thinking. This course will be relevant to the development of both my clients’ online presence and my own. Technical Communication (CM3090) (TECO/WRCO) is one of the most anticipated courses in my major. This class offers a strong emphasis in writing proposals and reports while utilizing current technology. Designing an effective method of communication tailored to a specific audience will allow me greater success in communicating these messages.
Alongside visual arts, marketing and communication, my major will be accompanied by Business Statistics (BU2240) (QRCO), the most logical choice for my quantitative reasoning requirement. Business statistics appeals to because I will be applying statistics with real life business situations and will gain real life experience from this course. Finally, Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies (IS2222) and Interdisciplinary Studies Senior Seminar (IS4420) will complete my major. Without these two courses I wouldn’t have a strong beginning or end to my degree in interdisciplinary studies.
I can’t say for certain what specific career will await me upon graduation, but I know how to get there. Creativity, working well with people and understanding business are the core concepts that allow my major to be professional yet versatile. There was no better way that I could have achieved this degree without the help of interdisciplinary studies. With this program, I’ve been able to step out of the fast-paced diploma mill that is the university system and into a tight, custom fit major. Within my Marketing and Creative Services major I have encompassed what I am most passionate about and it allowed me to have success in my vision.