For the first time, I will have gotten something out of a class besides a letter grade: an education.
Interdisciplinary studies was able to transform the way that I understood and interpreted information without forcing busy work, assigned textbook readings and lectures. Initially, I wasn’t sure what this course would be like or what I would get out of it but the end result has been truly rewarding. The word “interdisciplinarity” didn’t hold meaning to me until I began curating my program of study. I quickly found that there was a paradox within developing my contract. A contract, defined as a legally binding and enforceable agreement, was the way that I found freedom in learning. A contract can be a restricting commitment, but I found my interdisciplinary contract to be a covenant of educational liberation.
I’ve reinterpreted my understanding of what interdisciplinary studies is by dismantling and rebuilding the lessons learned in class and applied them outside of the classroom. For the first time, the information that I was learning was relevant enough to exist within my own life. In August, I only implied that interdisciplinary meant more than one discipline and now I recognize it as a collective learning experience. Being interdisciplinary allowed me to combine my distinct disciplines to invent a program that I was able to be excited about, one that I identified with. The open pedagogy approach became a hallmark of IDS mindset. I was taught how to build a personal learning network, how to research, how to write and how to learn. Open pedagogy put an emphasis on student construction, a main focus point in the course. With the ability to build my own program, I created a major that encompassed my passion for business while still having the allure of creativity. For the first time, was excited to be learning. Outreaching was the moment I realized I was exactly where I needed to be to get the education that I worked so hard for. For the first time, a class revolutionized my ability to articulate the special vision I had for my career by creating a different kind of learning experience. In class we discussed topics of open education and connected learning by recognizing how we can better utilize them in an interdisciplinary education. We learned to work together as a class to build a textbook and then separately, to build our specific programs of study. My peers and I collaborated closely to present work that was lasting and would reflect the progress that we had made through the semester.
My sincere hope for the future of interdisciplinary studies here at Plymouth State and beyond is for it to continue establishing its educational platform. For the first time, a single major defied the conventions which had glorified single discipline programs. This allowed students to have the subtle luxury to choose courses based on their unique interests and career goals instead of taking a “one size fits all” major, which can marginalize students who don’t fit within that single discipline. For the first time, the educational intent of a program is pioneered by the student and not their university. Interdisciplinary studies reflects the changes in our technology and society by encouraging its students to stay connected by empowering them to continue learning outside of the classroom. A degree should not be the final word in education, but the start. Establishing myself within this program and its community of learners has created a triumphant return of my love for education, and it feels as if I’m learning again for the first time.