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CBE—Life Sciences Education

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Interdisciplinary approach in education, Undergraduates -- Education (Higher), Science -- Study and teaching (Higher)


An expanded investment in interdisciplinary research has prompted greater demands to integrate knowledge across disciplinary boundaries. Vision and Change similarly made interdisciplinary expectations a key competency for undergraduate biology majors; however, we are not yet synchronized on the meaning of interdisciplinarity, making this benchmark difficult to meet and assess. Here, we discuss aspects of interdisciplinarity through a historical lens and address various institutional barriers to interdisciplinary work. In an effort to forge a unified path forward, we provide a working definition of interdisciplinary science derived from both the perspectives of science faculty members and scientific organizations. We leveraged the existing literature and our proposed definition to build a conceptual model for an Interdisciplinary Science Framework to be used as a guide for developing and assessing interdisciplinary efforts in undergraduate science education. We believe this will provide a foundation from which the community can develop learning outcomes, activities, and measurements to help students meet the Vision and Change core competency of “tapping into the interdisciplinary nature of science.”


© 2019 B. Tripp and E. E. Shortlidge. CBE—Life Sciences Education © 2019 The American Society for Cell Biology. This article is distributed by The American Society for Cell Biology under license from the author(s). It is available to the public under an Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike 3.0 Unported Creative Commons License ( by-nc-sa/3.0).



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Biology Commons